TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State coach Todd Graham said Friday he believes All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton will return for his senior season rather than enter the NFL Draft.
“He does want to get his degree, he does think he can improve a lot, he does know that he’s benefited from the system that we have here and the people we have in place here to teach him,” Graham said. “If you asked me what I think, I think he will come back.”
Sutton, a consensus All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, said at the end of the regular season that he would decide whether to return for his senior season after ASU’s bowl game. The Sun Devils take on Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29.
Graham, after ASU’s Friday practice, said he wants Sutton to evaluate what his professional prospects would be were he to leave ASU early and factor that into his decision.
“You definitely want to get that evaluation and see,” Graham said. “I treat them just like they’re my son. If he’s going to be a top guy, first-round pick, I’m going to wish him the best. And he’s got to do what’s best for him and his family. I would never want someone to do anything but that.”
Sutton, who earned his seventh All-America nod from Lindy’s on Friday, leads ASU with 20 tackles for loss and leads the Pac-12 with 1.82 per game in the regular season. He also leads the team with 10.5 total sacks. All that came despite missing essentially two games due to a knee injury.
Sutton suffered a sprained toe in the Sun Devils’ regular-season finale that did not keep him out of the game but has kept him out of bowl practices so far. Sutton was out of a walking boot Friday and is still expected to be ready for the game.
Graham said he believes Sutton is still just scratching the surface of his capabilities and would benefit tremendously from another season in college.
“I told him before practice today, as much improvement as he made this year, I think he could make even that much improvement next year,” Graham said. “I tell him every day I’m biased. I want to see him here, but I really, truly want what’s best for him.”
HONORS FOR HOOD, FOSTER
ASU freshmen D.J. Foster and Jaxon Hood both made it a goal at the beginning of the season to earn freshman All-America honors this season, with Hood even writing the phrase on a poster he hung on the back of his bedroom door.
Both accomplished the goal Friday, earning spots on FOXSportsNext.com’s All-American Team, with Foster on the first team and Hood on the second team.
“I remember telling my family and my coaches that was my goal at the beginning of the season,” Foster said Friday. “It’s a dream come true, and it’s crazy that it’s reality now.”
Foster, a running back, was honored as an all-purpose player. He leads the Sun Devils with 1,014 all-purpose yards — 522 receiving yards on 36 catches and 492 rushing yards on 101 carries. He has six total touchdowns.
Hood, meanwhile, worked his way onto the starting defensive line during fall camp and earned All-Pac-12 honorable-mention recognition last week. He finished the regular season with 23 tackles and four tackles for loss, including three sacks.
Hood made freshman All-America honors a goal shortly after signing with ASU, so getting them was a big deal, but he still deflected the recognition.
“It means a lot,” Hood said. “But I don’t do it for the recognition. I just want my team to win, and I have a good time doing it.”
Graham took particular pride in the honors because both players were top local recruits. That, he said, should be an example for other local players interested in ASU.
“I’m really proud of D.J. Foster and Jaxon Hood,” Graham said. “It speaks volumes about those putting their faith in us and trusting us. To see them get recognized like that on a national level is exciting for our program.”
Senior punter Josh Hubner finally got some recognition Friday, earning a third-team spot on the Lindy’s All-America Team.
Hubner was notably snubbed when the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s top punter, was trimmed to three finalists. Hubner did not make the list despite the nation’s third-highest punt average — 47.13 yards per punt — and 22 punts of more than 50 yards.