Before we begin, I must say that this is a bit like having a Best Actor race without Daniel Day-Lewis but apparently my editor Brad Denny likes making things difficult for me by excluding slam dunk choice Will Sutton.
So I guess if I can't pick Batman I might as well give this nomination to Robin. Yes, you guessed it, I'm talking about Carl Bradford.
Don't get me wrong though; Bradford wasn't simply a sidekick wearing uncomfortably revealing tights in 2012. The 6'3, 233-pound Devilbacker was an explosive, havoc-wreaking playmaker in his own right who deserves his fair share of love for ASU's defensive resurgence.
Bradford compiled 11.5 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss, four deflected passes, three forced fumbles and one interception all while playing a position that didn't even exist for the Sun Devils last season. Those numbers are all the more impressive when you consider that he squandered an opportunity to pad his stats against NAU in the season opener, instead finishing the game with one measly tackle.
But when the competition became stiffer, Bradford seemed to take his game to another level, logging at least one sack in his final six games. As many of you remember, his highlight reel against USC alone was what most outside linebackers hope to accumulate throughout an entire season.
No matter if he began with his hand in the dirt or upright behind the trenches, Bradford always seemed to finish each and every play around the ball. As the Garfunkel to Sutton's Simon, the redshirt sophomore helped hide the flaws in ASU's secondary by consistently attacking opposing quarterbacks from every imaginable angle. The tag team duo finished 1.5 sacks shy of Arizona State's entire output as a team throughout the 2011 season which is remarkable when you factor in that Bradford was playing fullback not too long ago.
So here's to you Mr. Bradford. And here's to another year of you and Mr. Sutton haunting the dreams of Pac-12 quarterbacks everywhere.