Arizona State Football: 10 Greatest Sun Devil Players in NFL History

Jeff Chase@@Real_Jeff_ChaseSenior Analyst IIFebruary 14, 2012

Arizona State Football: 10 Greatest Sun Devil Players in NFL History

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    Since the Arizona State Sun Devils' football program started all the way back in 1897, the program has seen some great players come and go. While many of them played great during their college days, some went on and continued to make some noise in the NFL.

    The Sun Devils currently have 30 players in the league, and they will be looking to add to that list following the 2012 NFL Draft.

    Here are the 10 greatest Sun Devils in NFL history.

10. Jake Plummer

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    Jake "The Snake" Plummer was a stud at Arizona State.

    For the Sun Devils, Plummer had an undefeated regular season in 1996. The team lost in the Rose Bowl to the Ohio State Buckeyes, but, to say the least, Plummer was a standout passer.

    Plummer entered the NFL with the hometown Arizona Cardinals, where he played from 1997-2002. With the Cardinals, he played 84 games while throwing for 17,622 yards with 90 touchdowns and 114 interceptions.

    Following the Cardinals he moved on to the Denver Broncos, where he saw much improvement. From 2003-06, Plummer threw for 11,631 yards with 71 touchdowns and 47 interceptions. Plummer was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2005 season.

    Following the 2006 season, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead of joining the team, he decided to retire at the age of 32.

9. Eric Allen

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    Eric Allen was a standout cornerback for the Arizona State Sun Devils. In 1988 he entered the NFL draft, where he was taken in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    With the Eagles, he started in 110 games over his seven years with the team. During that time, he had a total of 34 interceptions, five of which he took back for a score. He also recorded 397 tackles and six forced fumbles.

    After his time with the Eagles, he joined the New Orleans Saints from 1995-97. During that time, he added on another 137 tackles and five interceptions in just 48 games.

    He finished his career with the Oakland Raiders, where he had four strong years, recording 200 tackles with 15 interceptions and three touchdowns.

    Allen was named to the Pro-Bowl six times over his career.

8. Todd Heap

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    Tight end Todd Heap left the Arizona State Sun Devils holding the record for the most career receptions in team history with 115.

    After being a first-round selection by the Baltimore Ravens, Heap was named to the Pro Bowl twice. He played for the Ravens for 10 seasons, recording 467 receptions for 5,492 yards. He also had 41 touchdowns.

    Following the 2010 season, Heap joined the Arizona Cardinals. He didn't see great results, as he only 283 yards on 24 receptions for the season. He also only had one TD, which wasn't his usual output.

    It will remain to be seen how things will go for him from here on out, but Heap will go down as one of the better receiving tight ends ever to play the game.

7. John Jefferson

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    John Jefferson played for the Arizona State Sun Devils from 1974-77. During his time with the team, he was named the MVP of the 1975 Fiesta Bowl. The Sun Devils had a perfect season that year, and much of it was due to Jefferson's success.

    After being selected 14th overall in the 1978 draft by the San Diego Chargers, expectations were high for the standout college wide out.

    With the Chargers, he had a total of 3,431 yards with 36 touchdowns on 199 receptions. Jefferson was named to the Pro Bowl three times as a Charger, which was every season he was with the team.

    He went on from there to join the Green Bay Packers, where he didn't have as much success. He had a total of 50 receptions for 2,253 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl once during his time with the team.

    After one season with the Cleveland Browns, Jefferson called it a career in 1986.

6. John Henry Johnson

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    John Henry Johnson played fullback for the Arizona State Sun Devils, but once he entered the NFL, he took on the role of playing running back as well.

    After skipping his first season to play in the Canadian Football League, Johnson came back to play with the San Francisco 49ers, the team that selected him in the 1953 draft.

    With the 49ers, Johnson didn't have much success, as he ran for just 1,051 yards in 31 games. He also had 12 touchdowns.

    He later joined the Detroit Lions, where his string of success wasn't much better. He had 1,145 yards in 31 games, but his scores decreased to just seven.

    He found his most success with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he accumulated 4,381 yards in 67 games. He also had 26 touchdowns, finally becoming a scoring threat each season.

    Before he retired, he played one season with the Houston Oilers. That season was pretty bad, but it didn't hurt him in the end, as he was still inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

5. Randall McDaniel

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    Randall McDaniel was a pretty essential part to the Arizona State Sun Devils, as the forceful lineman helped propel the Sun Devils' offense to their first Rose Bowl appearance in the school's history.

    After being selected No. 19 overall at the 1988 draft, many people were expecting big things for the big man. Well, he didn't disappoint.

    With the Minnesota Vikings, McDaniel played 12 seasons. He was a part of many great Viking teams, including the 1998 season where the team just missed the Super Bowl.

    Following his tenure with the Vikings, McDaniel joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons starting in 2000. 

    McDaniel was selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times over his career, as well as being named to the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team. He has also been inducted to the NFL Hall of Fame, as well as the Vikings' Ring of Honor.

4. Charley Taylor

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    One of the best wide receivers to ever don the maroon and gold was Charley Taylor.

    For the Arizona State Sun Devils, Taylor was an All-American twice. He actually played more running back and defensive back in college, but he turned into a wide receiver once he entered the NFL.

    Taylor played his entire career with the Washington Redskins, where he was named to the Pro Bowl eight times. During his NFL career, he recorded 90 touchdowns with 9,110 yards on 649 receptions.

    Taylor has been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team. He was also won the Rookie of the Year award in 1964.

3. Darren Woodson

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    As a hometown talent from Phoenix, AZ, Darren Woodson was a solid linebacker for the Arizona State Sun Devils during his three years starting for the team.

    Following the 1992 season, Woodson was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys—the team that he would spend his entire career with.

    As a Cowboy, Woodson converted to a safety. From 1992-2004, he recorded 1,350 tackles and 23 interceptions. He was selected to the Pro Bowl five times. More importantly, Woodson was a part of the Cowboys' three Super Bowl-winning teams during the 1990s.

    While he has yet to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame, many believe he should be considered in the near future.

2. Terrell Suggs

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    Some would argue that his career is just getting started, as Arizona State Sun Devils' great linebacker Terrell Suggs has been a force in the NFL since day one.

    Suggs was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Being put alongside all-time great linebacker Ray Lewis doesn't hurt, as Suggs has anchored one of the best defenses year-in, year-out in Baltimore.

    Suggs is coming off of a Defensive Player of the Year season and is looking to continue to build upon what he has already accomplished. He has already been selected to the Pro Bowl five times, and he holds the record for most sacks in Ravens' team history.

    Over his career, he has recorded 565 tackles with 82.5 sacks and seven interceptions. Most impressively, he has forced 27 fumbles thus far.

    When it is all said and done, Suggs just may go down as the greatest Sun Devil to ever enter the NFL.

1. Mike Haynes

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    At the top of the list is Arizona State Sun Devils all-time great cornerback Mike Haynes.

    As a Sun Devil, Haynes was a two-time All American. He was by far one of the best players to ever play in the Sun Devils' secondary, and he went on to prove just that in the NFL.

    The New England Patriots selected him fifth overall in the 1976 draft. Haynes got off to a hot start, winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, as well as being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

    During his time with the Patriots, he had 28 interceptions in 90 games. Eight of those picks came during his rookie season—which was his career high as well. 

    After spending seven years in New England, Haynes joined the Los Angeles Raiders in 1983. With the Raiders, he had 18 interceptions in 87 games. 

    During his career, he was named to the Pro Bowl nine times and was named to the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

    Jeff Chase is a Featured Columnist for the Chicago Cubs and Arizona State football.

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