Feel The Heat: Top 10 Arizona State Defenders
The House of Heat.
At least that's what Sun Devil fans have called their stadium on obnoxiously hot Saturday nights in Tempe.
Part of the reason for the name is the obvious 100 degree temperatures that are a constant through the first month or so of the season, until the thermometer drops into the chilly 90's.
The more meaningful part of that name is a reflection of the defense, and in particular some of the great defenders that have played with reckless abandon each down they were on the field.
When you think of defense at Arizona State, the first thought that comes to many minds is the flowing hair trailing behind linebacker Pat Tillman when the Sun Devils upset Nebraska.
For others, the visual of Mike Richardson picking off another pass in the thick air and swinging the momentum back to the Devils sideline.
It has been a bit of a drought since Arizona State produced another talent on defense, but from the looks of the future players and recruits, it should not be too much longer.
Here is a look at the top ten defenders to wear the maroon and gold.
10. Robert James
Without question Robert James was one of the more talented linebackers to come through Tempe in recent memory.
But before one could argue statistics, have to understand the story of the linebacker.
James missed almost all of the 2006 season following a car crash. The heavy hitter was defenseless against a diesel truck that ran his vehicle off the road, causing him to suffer severe head injuries.
Robert made efforts to try and play that season, but the intensity of the concussions from previous years coupled with recovery from the auto accident proved to be too much.
Quit, well many would have but not James.
He returned for his senior season and helped lead ASU and their defense to their first ten win season in quite some time.
His combination of speed and size made every hit a spectacular one, and earned him honors on this list.
9. Adam Archuleta
Archuleta seemed to do his best impression of Pat Tillman every time he was on the field for the Sun Devils.
The former walk-on never took a play off, earning him not only a scholarship but a starting job as the teams outside linebacker for three seasons.
Adam's completed his college career as a very decorated player, quite the opposite from when he joined the team a short four years prior.
Following his senior year, he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year to go along with his first team All Pac-10 Honors. Several different media outlets also had the linebacker on their All-American teams.
Many came to know Archuleta following his great senior season, along with his combine numbers in which he ran a 4.37 forty.
With a strong resume Adam was selected 20th overall in th 2001 draft. His career has not quite been like the one in college though, as he has been somewhat of a journeyman between several NFL teams.
8. Mike Richardson
Richardson played and started all four seasons for the Arizona State football during his time there in the early 80's.
From the moment he began his career at corner he dominated the Pac-10 quarterbacks.
Mike is the current leader for the Sun Devils in career interceptions with 18. He picked off 14 of those passes his junior and senior seasons when he was named to the first team All Pac-10 and All-American teams.
He was selected by the Bears during the second round of the NFL draft, and enjoyed a solid NFL career, that included a Super Bowl ring.
Sadly, Richardson may be mostly remembered for his several off the field convictions related to drugs. No one could deny that he was one of the best during his years with the Devils though.
7. Derrick Rodgers
Rodgers was a critical piece of the defense that helped upset then number Nebraska Cornhuskers in Tempe during the 1996 season.
His great speed and quickness off of the edge was something that ASU fans had not yet seen out of there defense.
Following the Sun Devils Rose Bowl run in 1996, Rodgers was awarded with Pac-10 first team accolades, as well as being named first team All-American through at least a three different media sources.
The junior decided to pass on his senior year and declared for the NFL draft a year early. Derrick finished his career as one of the top sack artists in school history.
He was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the draft. Rodgers would go on and play nine years in the NFL.
6. Eric Allen
Allen joins the line of great secondary players to begin their careers with Arizona State University.
Eric played with the Devils from 1983-1987, racking up 15 interceptions during his career.
His shutdown play at the corner position helped in the Sun Devils run to three straight bowl games, including a Rose Bowl victory in 1986.
Allen parlayed his solid college career into an even better NFL one.
He played 14 seasons as a pro, and was named to the Pro Bowl six different times.
To top it all off, Eric Allen recently was inducted in the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame.
5. Darren Woodson
This hard hitting safety began his career with the Sun Devils as an outside linebacker, and like Archuleta, as a walk on.
His versatility also allowed him to play end during pass rushing situations, and at times play safety when needed.
As a junior he was an honorable mention to the All-American team, and as a senior he was second team All Pac-10.
Woodson's versatility was the major reason for the Dallas Cowboys selecting him in the second round of the 1992 NFL draft following his senior season.
Like Eric Allen, Darren would go on to have an outstanding professional career, all with the Cowboys.
He finished his football career as a six time Pro Bowler, and a four time All Pro player.
4. Jim Jeffcoat
Jeffcoat started three years on the defensive line for the Sun Devils, from 1980-1982.
Jeffcoat earned first team All Pac-10 honors with the team, and was an honorable mention to the All-American team.
He also was named to the ASU and Fiesta Bowl Halls of Fame. Jim dominated in Arizona State's Fiesta Bowl victory, earning defensive player of the game in a 32-21 win over Oklahoma.
Many remember Jim Jeffcoat for his contributions in two of the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl wins.
He was a first round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys back in 1983. At the conclusion of his pro career he had racked up over 102 sacks, and nearly 750 tackles as a defensive tackle.
He currently coaches at the University of Houston and has a son that is a standout defensive end in high school.
3. Pat Tillman
Without a doubt the most memorable Sun Devil in the history of not only the football team, but he entire University.
The way that Pat Tillman lived his life was the same way he played on the football field: no regrets.
He began his career with the team back in 1994, where he was not given a scholarship. Hard work prevailed though, and Pat earned the teams final scholarship.
Tillman played his college career at outside linebacker, playing an instrumental roll in stopping the run, especially in the Devils back to back runs at the Rose Bowl.
He was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year following his senior season. Also, he earned various All Pac-10 and national accolades.
Tillman was a late round draft choice by the local Arizona Cardinals. During his rookie season he transfered over to the safety position.
Pat's loyalty to the team showed when he refused to take more money from the Rams so he could stick with the Cardinals.
That loyalty also spread towards his love of his country, when Tillman turned down a contract extension to enlist in the army and fight for his country.
Tillman may have lost his life in the war, but his legacy lives on in and around Arizona State University where they annually hold a Pat Tillman run and highlight the 42 yard line in the field of play for games.
2. Terrell Suggs
Once he concludes his already stellar NFL career, Suggs may be atop the list of Arizona State defenders. Either way, he has been nothing short of great at the linebacker/end position in both college and the NFL.
Suggs set the college football record for sacks in a career with 44 sacks, not to mention the single season record of 24 sacks which he set as a junior.
Any type of award you could give a college player of his prestige he earned. Ted Hendricks, Lombardi, Bronko Nagurski, and Bill Willis were the highlights of those awards.
Terrell was selected 10th overall during the 2003 draft, joining an already suffocating Ravens defense.
His pro career picked up where the college one ended, as Suggs was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
He has gone to three Pro Bowl teams and may silently be just as important to Baltimore as Ray Lewis.
1. Mike Haynes
Mike Haynes is the most decorated defensive player to come through the Sun Devil program.
Haynes has been named to both the Pro football and college football Hall's of Fame.
He was only the second ASU player to be selected into the college football Hall of Fame.
During his time with Arizona State, Haynes was named to the first team All-American team twice as a cornerback. He also was a three time All-WAC player.
His greatest season may have been his junior year when he picked off eleven passes. That was good for most in the nation and second best all time for the team.
This ball hawk finished his career with 17 interceptions, finishing just behind Mike Richardson for the all time high.
Mike's NFL career was even better, as he earned Defensive Rookie of the year with the Patriots, to go along with his eight interceptions that season.
Haynes wrapped up his pro career as a nine time Pro Bowler, and was named to the 1980's All Decade Team along with the 75th Anniversary team.