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ASU Football: Devils top-10 all-time

Breaking down the best on the gridiron for Tempe

USA TODAY Sports-Historical Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

These players were compiled based on contributions to ASU while also taking statistics and success at the next level into account. One player will be released until the start of the season. It is also important to note that this list is completely subjective.

No. 10 Brock Osweiler

No. 9 Randall McDaniel

No. 8 Charley Taylor

Continuing the list of top-10 players on the gridiron as Arizona State closes in on opening day, here is No. 7.

No. 7: John Jefferson

John “J.J.” Jefferson cracks the Devils’ top-10 list as arguably the best receiver in Arizona State history. Jefferson’s touchdown grab, deemed as “The Catch” was his claim to fame. During the 1975 Territorial Cup game, Jefferson made a spectacular leaping grab for six points in the waning seconds before halftime.

However, Jefferson’s career began long before that play.

Jefferson was a Texas transplant that earned a scholarship to Tempe, and fit right into the Sun Devils system. Playing in the maroon and gold from 1974-1977, Jefferson made tremendous strides in putting ASU in the national spotlight as well as developing his raw talent.

During his freshman year, Jefferson recorded 423 yards off 30 receptions with a single touchdown.

He emerged a star during the 1975 season when he reeled in a team-leading 52 receptions for 921 yards and six scores. His tremendous season was highlighted by his aforementioned catch against the rival Wildcats, which boosted ASU in a tight win to keep the Devil’s undefeated season intact.

Arizona State finished its 1975 campaign 12-0 and claiming the Fiesta Bowl over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 17-14.

Jefferson earned Fiesta Bowl MVP and Arizona State finished ranked second in the nation, its highest ranking in the programs history.

During the 1976 season, Jefferson caught 48 receptions for 681 yards and five touchdowns.

In his fourth and final year in Tempe, Jefferson eclipsed his standout sophomore season by reeling in an outstanding 968 yards and eight scores off 58 receptions. He was named a consensus All-American selection and was recognized as Arizona Amateur Athlete of the Year.

Jefferson led the team in receiving all four years and declared for the NFL draft as a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference pick, the NCAA record for 42 consecutive games with a catch, a two-time Sun Devil’s MVP player, and 188 total receptions for 2,993 yards and 20 touchdowns under his belt.

The San Diego Chargers selected Jefferson with the 14th overall pick in the 1978 NFL draft. There, he would excel in the Chargers pass-heavy offense and put the league on watch with unheard of body control.

Jefferson became the first NFL player to submit 1,000-yard seasons in each of his first three years before being put on the trade block to the Green Bay Packers over a contract dispute.

He played four seasons for the Packers before finishing his pro career with the Cleveland Browns.

Over his eight-year pro career, he recorded 351 receptions for 5,714 yards and 47 scores while playing in 102 games.

Although he hasn’t made it to the NFL Hall of Fame, he has racked up an impressive resume, including:

  • Two-time All-Pro (1979, 1980)
  • Second team All-Pro (1978)
  • Four-time Pro Bowl selection
  • NFL receiving yards leader (1980)
  • Two-time NFL leader in touchdowns (1978, 1980)
  • Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team
  • San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team
  • Consensus All-American (1977)
  • Fiesta Bowl MVP