SAN FRANCISCO – Arizona State junior defensive tackle Will Sutton will keep an entire community in suspense a little longer. Sutton said after Saturday’s Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl win that he will likely take until Jan. 15, the official filing date for underclassmen, to decide whether to declare for the NFL Draft.
Sutton was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this season after finishing third in the Pac-12 in sacks (10.5) and first in solo tackles for loss (20) despite missing two games due to a knee injury.
“It’s a tough decision, so I have to take as much time as I need to make it,” he said.
Sutton said he hasn’t yet received the NFL report that will give him a better idea of his draft stock, but he said that is just part of the evaluation process. On the flip side, when asked what he had left to prove after earning the Pac-12 honor and being named a consensus All-American, he said:
“I just love this game. College football is different from the NFL. It’s more of a brotherhood here in college than in the NFL.”
GRICE’S BIG DAY
It was a brutal week for ASU running back Marion Grice. His 22-year-old brother, Joshua Wood, was killed in an attempted robbery on Dec. 21 in Houston over his “Air Jordan” basketball shoes.
ASU coach Todd Graham said he had no idea whether Grice would play in Saturday’s game until the very last minute. Even though Grice returned to practice late in the week, his emotional state was in question, so the Sun Devils tried to keep a sense of normalcy for Grice upon his return, with senior running back Cameron Marshall playing the role of big brother as best he could.
“That’s just the best you can do for someone in that situation,” Marshall said. “I can’t even fathom what he’s going through.”
Grice lined up deep for Navy’s opening kickoff on Saturday, and his play thereafter felt like a tribute. He rushed 14 times for 159 yards and two TDs while catching two passes for 19 yards.
Grice declined to speak with the media after the game, but he did get a lot of hugs from teammates on the field as well as a special reward.
“It was great to hand Marion the game ball to take home with him,” Graham said.
CURTAIN CALL FOR CAM
Marshall’s final season wasn’t anything like what he expected. Following a 2011 season in which he topped 1,000 yards and scored 18 TDs, Marshall’s role was significantly reduced this season with Grice and D.J. Foster also in the fold.
Instead of complaining, Graham said Marshall showed the kind of character and leadership essential for smoothing a new coaching staff’s transition.
“He has been one of the most incredible players that I’ve been around, Graham said. “The coaching change didn’t help him that much.”
In his final game at ASU, Marshall carried nine times for 59 yards and two TDs.
“I’m officially an alumni now, so it’s a weird feeling,” he said. “I was able to learn a lot of lessons this year that I needed to learn – guys still had a few things to show me. I’m glad to have come out a champion. A lot of guys don’t get that opportunity.”
The other big-name departing senior, linebacker Brandon Magee, wasn’t available for interviews after the game because he suffered a strained ligament in his elbow.
COYLE IN HEADY COMPANY
Chris Coyle didn’t even make the list of semifinalists this season for the Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end, but he did etch his name in the ASU record books on Saturday. With a third-quarter catch. Coyle set the school’s single-season record for receptions by a tight end with his 57th, breaking Zach Miller’s record.