Arizona State Football: The Major College Awards in All-Time Sun Devil Style
Mid-July brings with it not only the growing anticipation of the season's kickoff, but also the spate of postseason award watch lists.
Although not a down has been played, these lists seemingly throw together every prominent and semi-prominent player at each position for awards that won't be given out for five months.
While their value is suspect—at best—they do provide an interesting template that should allow for some summertime "what if" fun.
What if we took those yearly awards and applied them to a single school's entire history?
Who would be the single best player at each position?
Who would take home a Sun Devil Heisman?
With that in mind, may I have the envelopes please...
Doak Walker Award: Top Running Back
And the Winner Is...Woody Green
Even a brief look through the Sun Devil record book will be enough to see the thorough dominance that Woody Green had on the school's rushing marks.
During his three seasons from 1971-1973, Green was fantastic. He topped 1,300 yards in each season, including a school record 1,565 in 1972. All of his season rushing totals rank among the top six single-season performances in Sun Devil history.
His 4,188 career rushing yards are tops in school history, as are his 43 rushing touchdowns and 675 attempts.
A two-time consensus All-American, Green was later a first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Also Receiving Votes: J.R. Redmond, Wilford White, Freddie Williams
Fred Biletnikoff Award: Top Wide Receiver
And the Winner Is...John Jefferson
In a close call, the author of the greatest play in school history edges out the all-time leading receiver.
John Jefferson was much more than the just the player who made "The Catch," the spectacular leaping touchdown catch pictured above when No. 8 ASU battled No. 12 Arizona in 1975 with a Fiesta Bowl berth on the line.
Over his four-year career, Jefferson made history by hauling in 188 passes for 2,993 yards, both school records that stood for nearly three decades.
He was a two-time All-WAC selection and a consensus All-American in his final season in 1977.
Jefferson would then be the fourth overall selection by the San Diego Chargers and made four Pro Bowls in his eight-year NFL career.
Also Receiving Votes: Derek Hagan, J.D. Hill, Shaun McDonald, Keith Poole
John Mackey Award: Top Tight End
Steve W. Grayson/Getty Images
And the Winner Is...Todd Heap
In a very close two-horse race between extremely worthy candidates, Todd Heap narrowly beats Zach Miller.
In his three-year Sun Devil career, Heap utterly smashed the school's tight end records, finishing with 115 receptions (later broken by Miller's 144) for 1,685 yards. His 832 yards in 1999 remain ASU's single-season record.
He twice took home first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 1999 and 2000 and was a second-team All-American in 2000.
Also Receiving Votes: Zach Miller, Ken Dyer
Outland Trophy: Top Interior Lineman
And the Winner Is...Randall McDaniel
One of the prestigious players who is both a member of the College and Professional Football Hall of Fames, McDaniel was a dominating presence at guard for the Sun Devils from 1984-1987.
He anchored the offensive lines of three bowl teams, including the 1987 Rose Bowl squad. McDaniel was a two-time All-American, including a consensus pick in 1987 and started 39 consecutive games over his career as a four-year starter.
McDaniel went on to be a first round pick of the Minnesota Vikings and made 12 Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Professional Football Hall of Fame a year later.
Also Receiving Votes: Todd Kalis, Mike Pollak
Davey O'Brien Award: Top Quarterback
And the Winner Is...Danny White
Others may have greater numbers due to the offensive schemes of the modern era and the memory of others stands as more vivid in our minds, but Danny White stands as the greatest quarterback in Sun Devil history.
Despite playing in a run-first era with dynamic running back Woody Green behind him, White still posted exceptional numbers. His 64 touchdown passes and 6,717 passing yards stood for over 20 years as school records.
However, he excels, as all great quarterbacks do, in the most important statistic of all—winning
During his three years as a starting quarterback (1971-1973), he posted a 32-4 record, including a phenomenal 21-1 mark at Sun Devil Stadium and won three WAC titles. In his final season, he was a first-team All-American as he lead the 11-1 Sun Devils to the Fiesta Bowl championship.
Also Receiving Votes: Jake Plummer, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Andrew Walter
Lou Groza Award: Top Kicker
And the Winner Is...Luis Zendejas
This award was Zendejas' from the start, as he is head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
It all starts with Zendejas' school-record 380 career points, 40 more than Thomas Weber. His hold on the award is strengthened by his records in field goals made in a career (81) and season (28) and his four games of four or more field goals.
For good measure, he ended his ASU career as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history (since broken).
He was a consensus All-American in 1983 and later kicked professionally in the USFL, NFL and Arena League.
Also Receiving Votes: Jesse Ainsworth, Thomas Weber, Mike Barth
Dick Butkus Award: Top Linebacker
And the Winner Is...Adam Archuleta
In one of the most difficult selections, Archuleta gets the narrow victory, although any of the other two would make excellent choices.
Archuleta gets the nod on the strength of his two first-team All-Pac-10 selections and his 2000 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Award, which was earned with 127 tackles, 15 for loss and four sacks.
For his career, he made 330 tackles—including 53 for loss—with 14 sacks and two interceptions.
His NFL career wasn't of the caliber of his time in Tempe as he moved to safety, but he remains one of the most dominant defenders in school history.
Also Receiving Votes: Pat Tillman, Vernon Maxwell
Jim Thorpe Award: Top Defensive Back
And the Winner Is...Mike Haynes
Along with Randall McDaniel, Haynes has the distinction of being in both the Collegiate and Professional Hall of Fame.
A three-time All-WAC selection from 1973-1975, Haynes was a dominant performer whose ball-hawking skills netted him 11 interceptions in 1974, a total that led the nation. Legendary head coach Frank Kush labeled Haynes a "luxury" and Lou Holtz referred to him as "the best defensive back I've ever seen."
Haynes was also a two-time All-American selection, with a consensus pick in 1975, the same season ASU finished 12-0 and ranked second in the country. His No. 40 was retired by both Arizona State as well as the New England Patriots and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
After his Sun Devil career, Haynes played 12 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, making nine Pro Bowls and he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
Also Receiving Votes: Mike Richardson, Eric Allen
Chuck Bednarki and Bronko Nagurski Awards: Top Defensive Player
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
And the Winner Is...Terrell Suggs
Another close call due to the quality of ASU's defenses over the years, but the record-setting Suggs gets the nod, as his 2002 season may be the greatest single-season performance by any Sun Devil at any position.
Suggs set the NCAA single-season sack record with 24, a truly staggering total. He also had 31.5 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and took home a mantle's worth of awards, including the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski Award, Hendricks Award and Lombardi Award, in addition to every conceivable All-American team.
He skipped his senior season to enter the NFL draft, ending his Sun Devil career with school records in sacks (44) and tackles for loss (65.5).
Suggs has made four Pro Bowls and was the 2003 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
Also Receiving Votes: Mike Haynes, Adam Archuleta, Pat Tillman, Mike Richardson
Home Depot Award: Top Head Coach
And the Winner Is...Frank Kush
When the football field is named in your honor, you know you are the best.
Such is the case for Frank Kush, with Frank Kush Field at Sun Devil Stadium standing as a tribute to the greatest coach in school history.
Over 22 seasons, Kush guided the Sun Devils to 19 winning seasons while compiling a 176-54-1 record, including undefeated seasons in 1970 and 1975. He led the program to nine conference titles and a 6-1 record in bowl games.
His 1975 team finished 12-0 and ranked second in the nation, which earned Kush the Coach of the Year award. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
Also Receiving Votes: No One
Heisman Memorial Trophy: Most Outstanding Player
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
And the Winner Is...Jake Plummer
While others have greater numbers, awards or wins, few Sun Devils have had the impact of Jake "The Snake" Plummer.
With the program mired in mediocrity, Plummer led the legendary 1996 Sun Devils squad on a once-in-a-generation thrill ride.
The dynamic scrambler had a career year, tossing 24 touchdowns, running for three more and adding another on a reception on the famous halfback option play against UCLA. He was named second-team All-American and finished third in the Heisman voting, the highest any ASU player has ever finished.
Second-ranked Arizona State earned their second-ever berth in the Rose Bowl, facing off against Ohio State with a national title on the line. They fell just short, losing 20-17, but he had secured his place among the pantheon of legendary Sun Devils.
Also Receiving Votes: Danny White, Terrell Suggs, Woody Green, J.R. Redmond
Decision is keeping with the "tradition" of the Heisman Trophy going to the best offensive skill position player who has the most glamorous season on a winning team, rather than its stated and broader recipient of "the outstanding college football player."
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