TEMPE, Ariz–College football has just found its next great interior defensive lineman. Move over Ndamokung Suh, move over Nick Fairley, because Will Sutton has arrived, and will be here to wreak havoc on offenses all around the country.
Sutton, a likely first round pick had he left last season after his redshirt junior year, comes into his redshirt senior year looking to break Arizona State’s illustrious single season sack record with 25 sacks. Sutton is tied with UCLA’s Anthony Barr as the single season leader in sacks among those returning in the FBS this season with 13.
The road for Sutton in his quest for the record as well as a successful season for the Sun Devils will be a tough one. After the opening game vs. Sacramento State, ASU faces four consecutive top-tier opponents in Wisconsin, Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame. Each of those teams feature huge front sevens with big offensive lineman to match up against him. Sutton is more than willing to take on the challenge.
“It’s going to be fun. The most important game on that stretch is probably (USC), a Pac-12 South opponent. It’s us, them, or UCLA for the South, I think,” he said. “We just got to take it one game at a time. We got (Sacramento State) right now, but we know what we’ve got ahead of us.”
The team will face a lot of national attention, with most of it falling on Sutton’s broad shoulders. Despite all of the hype surrounding him and his play, Sutton wants to keep his focus on the team.
“I just got to go out there and play my game. If I don’t make plays, I don’t make plays. As long as my teammates are out there making plays and getting W’s that’s all I care about,” Sutton said.
Sutton will also draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses inside. Despite being a part of a defense that also features stars Chris Young, Jaxon Hood, and Carl Bradford, Sutton will likely be double and even sometimes triple-teamed at the line of scrimmage. But Sutton doesn’t mind.
“No, not at all. I embrace it. Can’t wait. It’s just another challenge for me,” he said.
It is also Sutton’s second season under head coach Todd Graham, whose defensive prowess and attention to detail can be tough to get used to. It certainly worked as the season went on last year, as the defense improved, and the team cut down on penalties. This year, Sutton and the rest of the team seem more comfortable and ready to attack than ever.
“There’s definitely a new comfort zone, but we also have to keep guys from getting complacent, because sometimes guys like to ease up thinking, ‘Oh it’s the second year’ but our standard is higher from last year so we got to go out there and perform,” Sutton said.
Despite his chase for the record and the shot at being a top ten pick in the 2014 NFl Draft, Sutton has his focus on the goals of the team as opposed to personal achievements.
“I don’t have any personal goals. I just want to get wins, that’s it,” he said. “It;s a blessing to get (put on awards lists) and get all of that attention, but I don’t pay it any mind. It’s cool every once in a while to see yourself on ESPN , but it doesn’t affect me at all.”
Sutton was named a 2012 Consensus and AP All-American and an All-Pac-12 selection. He is currently on the 2013 award watch lists for the following awards: Outland Trophy, Bronco Nagurski Trophy, Maxwell Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Walter Camp, and Lombardi Award. He and his trademark dreadlocks will be sure to frighten offenses and offensive coordinators all year as well as at the next level.