As noted in our second-team piece, the linebacker position at Arizona State is one of pride and great skill. A quick look of past linebackers who wore the maroon and gold and you will find a "who's who" when it comes to great football players. This means that the following players were some of the best ever to come through Tempe.
Pat Tillman: A few brief sentences about Tillman's career at Arizona State can't do justice to what he accomplished both on and off the football field. He is a hero not only at Arizona State but also to the country for which he gave his life in 2004.
He began his Arizona State career in 1994 spending most of it on special teams. He collected 47 tackles in his 1995 sophomore campaign also earning honorable mention Pac-10 all-academic honors and second team All-Pac-10 as a utility player.
In his junior year Tillman was honored as an all-Pac-10 second team member and finished second on the team in tackles and again making the Pac-10 all-academic team. Tillman's shining season came in his last year as a Sun Devil. He led the team with 93 tackles and also had four sacks and three interceptions. Tillman also earned second team All-American honors and won the Pac-10 defensive player of the year award which now bears his name.
No. 42 was taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the 226th pick in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL draft. As was the case in all aspects of his life, he gave 110 percent and collected 245 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his time with the Cardinals before opting to join the Army Rangers following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and ultimately lost his life on Apr. 22, 2004 by what the Army later concluded was friendly fire.
Terrell Suggs: Suggs prepped locally at Hamilton High School before making his decision to become a Sun Devil. He started as a true freshman in 2000 and made an immediate impact. He was sixth on the team that season with 48 tackles and also had 10 sacks. He was named Pac-10 freshman of the year for his efforts. In 2001 he was named first team All-Pac-10 with another 42 tackles. He shined the brightest in 2002 breaking the NCAA single-season record for sacks with 24. He earned the Pac-10 defensive player of the year award and was a unanimous first team All-American.
The Baltimore Ravens took Suggs with the 10th pick in the 2003 NFL draft and was rookie of the year that season.He was a first team All-Pro selection in 2011 and most recently won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2013. "Sizzle" has collected 94.5 sacks and 472 total tackles in his NFL career. Among Suggs other footprints that he left on Arizona State is the "Ball So Hard University" moniker.
Ron Pritchard: A Sun Devil from 1966-68, few made as much of an impact on the field as Pritchard. In his first season he was named All-Western Athletic Conference as well as honorable mention All-American. He earned the same honors in 1967 and was named Arizona State's first ever consensus All-American in 1968.
The then Houston Oilers selected Pritchard with the 15th pick in the 1969 common draft. He played in both the AFL and NFL for the Oilers and then spent time with the Cinncinati Bengals as well. He was named second-team all-conference in the 1970 and 1971 seasons by United Press International. Although he may not have been the pinnacle of play as an Arizona State linebacker, he certainly set the tone for great play at the position going forward which is why he earned a spot here.
Bob Breunig: It seems like we're naming a lot of players from those four Fiesta Bowl winning teams in the 1970's and rightfully so. Breunig was a part of three of those wins and played for the maroon and gold from 1971-74. He started his sophomore year and had 91 tackles making his presence known as a force to be reckoned with. In his junior and senior seasons Breunig combined for 273 tackles. He made first team All-Western Athletic Conference every year he started and was named an All-American by numerous outlets after his senior season in 1974. He was inducted into the Arizona State Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.
Breunig was selected in the third round with the 70th selection overall by the Dallas Cowboys where he spent his entire career and went to three Pro Bowls. He was named first team All-NFL in 1980. He also started all 14 games for the America's team on its Super Bowl winning team of 1977.