Bill Slane

Sutton keeps quickness with extra weight, continues to lead team

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ASU Devils Den intern Bill Slane will be writing a weekly column for the site during the fall semester.   He can be reached on Twitter @bill_slane

When I stepped into the Verde Dickey Dome to observe my first ASU football practice, the first player I spotted was redshirt senior defensive lineman Will Sutton. The reigning Pac-12 defensive player of the year is an imposing human being, maybe even more so now after putting on extra weight this offseason, and he looks prime for another stellar year in his final season as a Sun Devil.

If there was one knock on Will Sutton after his 2012 season in which he was among the nation’s best in sacks and tackles for loss, it was his size. Sutton received a 5th round draft grade from NFL scouts mainly due to the idea that he was too undersized for his position. Surely, he is not as big as some other players at his position. He doesn’t have the prototypical height of a pass rushing interior defensive lineman (Sutton is listed at 6’1”) and even before his breakout season some questioned if he was too light to play the position. Sutton played last season at around 270 pounds last season and during this offseason has put on 30 pounds of “good” weight.

There have been some questions to come out about Sutton’s weight gain this offseason (Sutton is officially listed now on the team’s roster at 305 pounds), specifically whether or not he will still have the same speed. Sutton’s quickness was certainly a huge part in his outstanding 2012 season. There is quite simply not many men his size who can move the way that he does. While I have only seen Sutton practice for three days now, he does not appear to have lost any of that speed or quickness. Both Sutton and Coach Graham have said that 305 pounds is Will’s natural playing weight. 

Sutton has also not lost any of his enthusiasm or energy for the game. During a goal line drill in Wednesday’s practice, the first team defense stopped the second team offense from putting the ball in for a score. After the drill, Sutton was seen running back to the sideline, elated, screaming “not in here” several times. Sutton is clearly not just an important part of the Sun Devils’ defense on the field; he’s a leader on the sideline as well. The animation and excitement he shows during a goal line drill such as that one can rub off on the other members of his defense and get them in the right place mentally when the games are for real. 

The man from Corona, California can do more than just get his teammates excited to play. Sutton is more than willing to help coach the younger players in the unit. Before practice on Friday, Coach Graham mentioned to media members that Will has said that he would like to be a coach after his playing days were done. This willingness to be that veteran leader on and off the field is good both for this season of high hopes for the team and the future of the Sun Devils.

Will Sutton is clearly a key member of this football team, he will be a big part for many of the Sun Devils’ victories this year as they chase the Pac-12 championship and beyond. But with the good weight that he has put on, and the way he has looked during the short sample of practice I’ve been able to observe at this point, I see no reason why Sutton can’t also be the best defensive lineman in the country. He was already high on the list statistically last season even with the few games he missed with injury, and with the extra weight he will be even harder to defend this season if he shows the same quickness he’s shown on the practice fields. 

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