What was once a defense loaded with returning starters continues to be whittled away.
James Brooks, the hero of the double-overtime win over Arizona after he blocked two Wildcat extra points, announced Wednesday that he is leaving the team for personal reasons. This comes after All-Pac-10 cornerback Omar Bolden was lost to a torn ACL in April.
Brooks, a talented 6'5", 279-pound senior, had yet to fully realize his potential during his time in Tempe, yet he showed improvement last season. He registered career highs in both tackles (25) and sacks (4.0) and was projected to start opposite Junior Onyeali.
To his credit, Brooks will remain in school and finish his degree.
Where does this leave the Sun Devils?
It immediately places more pressure on Onyeali, who last season led the team in sacks with 6.5 and tackles for loss with 11.5. The reigning Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year is a speedy and dynamic, although undersized pass-rusher who may now see more blocking attention and double-teams.
The departure also places senior Jamaar Jarrett into Brooks' spot in the starting lineup. Jarrett played well in 2010, in which he appeared in all 12 games and made six starts. He made the most of his time, making 40 tackles and finishing second to Onyeali in both sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (10.5). Also in the mix will be fellow ends Greg Smith and juco transfer Davon Coleman.
Starting defensive tackles Will Sutton and Bo Moos will also need to become factors with the pass rush. Although the linebacking corps isn't typically tasked with pass rushing, they could be given a greater part of that task as the season progresses.
This also will place further strain on the secondary, as they are still working on overcoming the loss of Bolden.
ASU begins their training camp on August 2nd.
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