ASU expands Tillman practice jersey tradition

TEMPE, Ariz. — Four Arizona State players practiced Thursday in camouflage No. 42 Pat Tillman jerseys, which are awarded to players who excel on and off the field as the late former Sun Devil linebacker did.

All-American senior defensive tackle Will Sutton wore his Tillman jersey for a third straight practice after earning it last week, while senior safety Alden Darby earned the jersey for the second time after becoming the first player to do so last season. Senior cornerback Osahon Irabor and senior linebacker Chris Young also wore the jersey Thursday in ASU’s last practice of the spring.

“It’s definitely surreal,” Irabor said. “It was a lot of hard work, so it’s definitely a proud moment for me. Everything that Pat Tillman stood for. …. He is Sun Devil football to us.”

ASU coach Todd Graham hinted earlier in the week that a few players might be close to earning the honor and was pleased to have four wear the jersey Thursday.

“It’s a national-champion mentality with a Pat Tillman standard on the field, off the field, in the classroom, in the community,” Graham said.

Graham also said ASU is expanding the tradition, which he started last season, to include offense and special teams. The offensive jerseys will be maroon camouflage, Graham said, and the special-teams jerseys will be black. Graham said the tradition will continue into the offseason conditioning program, and he hopes it will motivate players who see teammates earn the honor.

“We’re trying to create peer pressure and people wanting that jersey,” Graham said. “I think that jersey means a lot to them. It’s pretty hard to get them, and you’ve got to keep it.

“I told them if we can come out here to practice and those jerseys are dominating the scenery, we’ll have a chance to accomplish our goals.”