Devils Digest 2012 Post-Season Awards

Will Sutton is our unanimous Team MVP

Best quoted player. Best player to exemplify "All In." Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down." Members of our Devils Digest staff voted on some unique categories, as well as more traditional ones as we bring you our selections for ASU's 2012 Post-Season Awards.

Joe Healey

Offensive MVP

QB Taylor Kelly

Looking back at the 2012 season in retrospect, if there's one undeniable fact it is that all season long the Sun Devils went as Taylor Kelly did. Kelly's performances in wins versus losses were staggering, as in the eight wins he threw 21 touchdowns and zero interceptions but tossed eight touchdowns and nine picks in the five losses. Of course, the argument can be made that had Kelly played better against the likes of Oregon State or USC the Devils could have chipped out a road win, but the fact remains that virtually every other key offensive position featured some measure of rotation but Kelly had to step up to the challenge as starting quarterback all year long. Cameron Marshall, Marion Grice and D.J. Foster all had moments of key contribution during the year, as did Chris Coyle, Rashad Ross, Jamal Miles and Kevin Ozier in the pass game. Kelly was able to facilitate and in main occasions spearhead the Sun Devil offense toward its second-highest win total since 2004 and a less efficient quarterback might not have been able to create a similar accomplishment.

Defensive MVP

DL Will Sutton

There are "gimmes" and then there are "gimmes". Pac-12 Conference Pat Tillman Player of the Year, Consensus All-American...the stack of accolades defensive lineman Will Sutton compiled this season is something that will not soon be forgotten at ASU. As critical as his presence was this year, another factor illustrating his value was how ASU struggled in his absence against Oregon and UCLA. Now that Sutton opted to return for his senior season in 2013, time will tell if what he did as a junior would be eclipsed by what he will accomplish as a senior. Nonetheless, his past season's performance is as awe inspiring as just about any defender in school history.

Team MVP

DL Will Sutton

Similar to Taylor Kelly's impact on the offense, the Sun Devil defense was noticeably different without Sutton compared to when he was in the lineup and terrorizing opposing backfields. Though he only missed basically two games, the long-term impact was significant as one win would have enabled ASU to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Overall, Sutton single-handedly nullified the effectiveness of opposing quarterbacks as he routinely used his combination of speed, strength and technique to knife his way into the backfield. Additionally, the impact he created caused so much attention that players like Carl Bradford, Brandon Magee, Chris Young and others were able to excel and cause havoc on opposing backfields as well.

In all, Sutton gave ASU a dominant defensive force it hadn't seen since the days of Terrell Suggs a decade ago and also helped propel the performances of those around him.

Best Newcomer

RB Marion Grice

Through the first half or so of the regular season, this topic likely would have created a debate but no player on the team—let alone specifically among the newcomers—had a greater impact that running back Marion Grice. Sure, D.J. Foster is an absolute phenom in the making and will be one of the Pac-12's most dynamic skill players next year, true freshman Jaxon Hood was a incredibly pleasant surprise on the defensive line and JUCO transfer Chris Young was solid all year, but as the season concluded Grice was the team's go-to player and has All-America qualities heading into his senior season.

Over the final two games of the season, Grice was nothing short of spectacular as he totaled 315 rushing yards on only 32 carries with five touchdowns—earning both the Bob Moran Game MVP trophy against Arizona and the Offensive MVP award in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Grice also proved to be one of the most underrated and versatile players in the country, leading all FBS running backs with eight receiving touchdowns to go along with his 11 rushing scores. With 19 total touchdowns on 144 combined touches, Grice incredibly averaged six points just about every 7.5 times he caught or carried the ball in 2012. Wow.

Breakout Player

Tie – LB Carl Bradford and TE Chris Coyle

During his redshirt freshman year in 2011, Carl Bradford bounced between middle linebacker and defensive end, with modest first-year statistics of 12 tackles, 3.5 TFL's and 1.5 sacks. Fast forward a year and a new role in the defense at ‘Devil' ‘backer—a perfectly compatible spot as a hybrid OLB/DE—and Bradford becomes one of the league's most fearsome defenders. Though overshadowed by the All-America campaign by Will Sutton, Bradford was similarly dominant as he finished the year with incredible statistics including 81 tackles, 20.5 TFL's and 11.5 sacks. With two years of eligibility remaining, Bradford has fits the mold of a future All-American and saw his role and productivity skyrocket in 2012.

After catching only six passes in 25 games through his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, TE Chris Coyle's offensive output exploded in Todd Graham's offense in 2012. As a junior, Coyle caught 57 passes for 696 yards and five touchdowns, which place him third in the FBS among tight ends in receptions and fifth in receiving yards. Additionally, Coyle's receptions total set a new single-season tight end record at ASU, and any time a Sun Devil surpasses the likes of Todd Heap and Zach Miller on his way into the record books his performance is well worth noticing.

As awesome as Sutton was all year, as dynamic as D.J. Foster and Marion Grice were and as efficient as Taylor Kelly was, if before the season started Sun Devil fans were told of the individual performances that would transpire in 2012, Bradford's and Coyle's would likely have been the most eye-opening.

Most surprising player

QB Taylor Kelly

To define "surprising" in this context, basically I think back to about a year ago—or even into more recent points of the preseason—and consider where certain players were and what their expectations were at those points. Will Sutton always had top-notch potential and was a solid player; Marion Grice and D.J. Foster were four-star prospects expected to contribute in a hurry; Chris Coyle and Carl Bradford, though reserves in 2011, were predicted to take on much larger roles as starters in 2012.

During spring drills, the general thought that ASU's starting quarterback in 2012 would be either of the two scholarship players not named Taylor Kelly. Even as preseason camp began in August, many believed either Mike Bercovici or Michael Eubank would guide the offense in the fall. However, as camp trudged on it was Kelly who was the most consistent and ultimately earned the starting nod. Though Eubank had a role as a short yardage and goal line option, Bercovici sat out and redshirted while Kelly started all 13 games.

Though he had some rough patches, many of his statistics were well above average and his performance level in general, especially when considering where he stood on the depth chart this time last year, is something that has been a substantial surprise.

Most disappointing player

DL Mike Pennel

In many cases, FBS level football players measuring about 6-foot-5 and in the vicinity of 350 pounds with above average athleticism can find themselves on a fast track to seven-figure salaries playing pro football. What can derail that outcome, however, is when a player lacks the mental capacity and self discipline to progress to a pro-ready level. In the current world of Sun Devil football, there's no more accurate of a definition of the word "disappointing" than how we all unfortunately have to describe Mike Pennel, a player with all the physical gifts to be a super star but nowhere near the disciplinary qualities to even remain on the active roster.

When Pennel signed with ASU last February, many thought that by this time we'd all be speculating whether he'd be on the roster in 2013—but because of the thought he'd be an immediate NFL prospect, not because he would find himself so consistently in the coaches' dog house to the point of likely dismissal from the team.

Best player to exemplify "All In"

LB Brandon Magee

Like the flip of a switch, seemingly from the moment Todd Graham was hired in December 2011, Brandon Magee became the emphatically charismatic face of the Sun Devil football program. A living, breathing example of the "everything happens for a reason" notion, Magee would have never played a down for Graham had the linebacker not suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in August of the previous year. Rejuvenated by his return to full health and a fresh start for the football program, Magee would never be found without a smile on his face and without "Speaking Victory" at all times. Having been around Magee prior to the start of the season, it was impossible not to feel the tangible changes that were occurring in the Sun Devil football program and his play on the field helped spur that improvement as well.

Chosen as one of four team captains for the 2012 season, Magee enjoyed a stellar year as one of the squad's key leaders and also earned the Ron Pritchard Outstanding Linebacker Award at the team's banquet.

If any further proof is needed, let's look back to an interview Brad Denny and I did with Brandon last February for our Speak of the Devils podcast:

"I'm so positive about Coach Graham because he's bringing positive energy himself. So are the coaches, the players are buying in—I feel the players are buying in. I'm just an outlet and I just like to voice my opinions, you know, that's how I feel. I'm speaking that victory everyday and I hope the fans are speaking the same for us because we need the most fan support we can get."

Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down"

RB D.J. Foster

When I think of this Todd Graham endorsed catch phrase and consider a Sun Devil to personify it, I think of a player with speed, acceleration, the ability to weave through traffic and the athleticism to do so in a variety of ways. Though just a true freshman, D.J. Foster proved to be one of the most dynamic players in the Pac-12 Conference as he surpassed over 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards (1,026), while ranking second all-time in receptions among ASU freshmen. Whether as a tailback or split out wide, Foster can go from zero to 60 in a blink of an eye and can shift left-to-right without using his blinkers.

Already christened a hometown hero before even starting his engine as a Sun Devil, Foster's freshman season clearly showed that he'll be off to the races for the duration of his ASU tenure and has the skill set to leave all defenders behind him in a cloud of dust.

Best assistant coach

Paul Randolph

Will Sutton went from a good player to a Consensus All-American. Brandon Magee racked up over 100 tackles and was joined by Alden Darby as Second-Team All-Pac-12 members. Jaxon Hood, a year removed from playing at Chandler's Hamilton High, earned Freshman All-America honors and fellow newcomers Steffon Martin and Chris Young excelled as well.

Junior Onyeali went from a potential roster casualty to a generally reformed young man and a key contributor to the Sun Devil defense. The defensive unit as a whole steadily stood among the nation's leaders in multiple categories. In all, the transformation of the Sun Devil defense—a group that lost six starters from 2011—was one of the most impressive occurrences of the season. Though head coach Todd Graham certainly deserves credit for the intensity, standards and philosophies that helped create this outcome, defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Paul Randolph—as a coach and mentor—was a pivotal piece in ASU's successful 2012 season.

Play of the Year

Keelan Johnson's Forced Fumble Against Arizona

In Tucson to wrap up the regular season, ASU trailed Arizona by 10 entering the fourth quarter. After a Jon Mora field goal at the 11:51 mark, the Devils cut the lead down to a touchdown but would allow Arizona to move deep into Sun Devil territory about three minutes later. On a first down play from the ASU 18-yard line, Wildcat quarterback Matt Scott rushed to his left and as he was being stopped by defenders, Keelan Johnson snatched the ball out of Scott's grasp and forced a fumble. Even more fortuitous for the Sun Devils was the scrum that took place after the ball hit the turf as it was pushed and kicked around until ASU's Deveron Carr recovered it at the Sun Devil 44-yard line.

The forced turnover would start an avalanche of Sun Devil momentum as six plays later, ASU would tie the game on a four-yard Marion Grice run, then the Devils added touchdowns after a blocked punt by Kevin Ayers and lengthy interception return by Robert Nelson to ultimately defeat Arizona 41-34. However, had Johnson not forced Scott to fumble, a 10 or 14-point Wildcat advantage might have been too much for the Sun Devils to overcome that night in Tucson.

Best moment of the Year

Marion Grice Wins Bowl Offensive MVP After his Brother's Death

There were many great plays and overall moments over the course of the season—beating Cal on the road, the myriad outstanding plays that led to ASU regaining the Territorial Cup, a smashing victory over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Among several memorable moments, to me, the most heartening moment of the year was seeing Marion Grice earn Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Offensive MVP honors a week after his brother was senselessly killed in Texas. More important than the piece of hardware he earned was the fact that Grice was able to rejoin the team and have a sensational 159-yard, two-touchdown effort against Navy and hopefully have the game serve as a cathartic experience that helped distract him from the pain of a lost family member.

Worst moment of the Year

Will Sutton Injured Against Oregon Only 42 seconds into a nationally televised near sellout against the nation's No. 2 team, the Sun Devils took quick control of the game's momentum after a fumble by Oregon QB Marcus Mariota that was recovered in Duck territory. Though the Sun Devils would score on the next play and take a quick 7-0 lead over Oregon, the bigger issue was a knee injury suffered by eventual All-American Will Sutton. The injury was a deflating factor that contributed to ASU's dismal 43-21 loss against the Ducks, but perhaps more disheartening was Sutton's unavailability the next week against UCLA. Had Sutton played against the Bruins, ASU may very well have avoided the "walk-off" loss and would have eventually found itself—and not the Bruins—as the South's representative in the Pac-12 Championship Game. After falling to Oregon, ASU would lose the next three games to cause some midseason panic before the Devils righted the ship with three victories to close out the year.

Best quoted player

LB Brandon Magee

There are some talented characters on this team in terms of interview fodder and other one-liners, but few can work a room like linebacker Brandon Magee. Brandon's key is versatility – he's a great interview for print, audio and video, but he also excels in person. At one preseason luncheon I attended, Magee and Taylor Kelly joined Tim Healey for a Q&A session and Magee had the entire room in stitches. Brandon was clearly hand-picked by Coach Graham as the face of the program as he was featured in call-in fan forums that ASU held, was featured on local TV sports specials and, above all, is one of the most involved and charitable student-athletes at ASU. Though he faced some substantial adversity in 2011, Brandon's attitude and embodiment of the "Sun Devil Way" the past year have been incredible and it shows through in all he does.

Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2013

LB Salamo Fiso

I'll avoid two "cop outs" (in my view) in S Laiu Moeakiola and LB Carlos Mendoza; true, both technically redshirted this season due to early season injuries but both also would have been stable members of the two-deep all year had they not gotten hurt. Among the "true" redshirts this season, LB Salamo Fiso catches my intrigue. Ranked by Scout.com as the No. 33 OLB prospect last year, Fiso was the most highly-rated defensive recruit to sign with the Sun Devils in 2012. Though shortly after his arrival it was apparent that he needed extended coaching to acclimate to the college level and at 203 pounds he would benefit from a strong offseason in the weight room, Fiso's career at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High School gives high hopes for his college career. As a senior, Fiso recorded 127 tackles and was named his league's defensive MVP and with starter Brandon Magee and reserve Brandon Johnson having wrapped up their Sun Devil careers, openings exist at inside linebacker for the Devils for 2013.

Describe ASU's 2012 season in 140 characters or less

No longer satisfied with awfully good things, ASU is Speaking Victory in the left lane with the hammer down! Future is rosy with CTG! #AllIn

***

Byron Kline

Offensive MVP

QB Taylor Kelly

Following a disappointing conclusion to the 2011 season, the Sun Devils began their offseason workouts with a number of personnel questions with perhaps none bigger than who would fill the void at quarterback after Brock Osweiler opted to forego his senior season and entered last season's NFL Draft. Despite reportedly finishing the spring third on the Arizona State depth chart, Kelly ran away with the starting job behind a phenomenal fall performance, carrying that momentum into the 2012 season. Kelly was the ultimate catalyst for the revamped, up-tempo Sun Devil offense, passing for 3,040 yards and 29 touchdowns, falling just one short of equaling the school record for touchdowns in a season. He did, however, re-write a couple school records along way. Kelly completed a remarkable 67.1% of his passes on the year, tops in the program's history, and completed a school record 18 consecutive passes against Washington State on 11/17, going 20-23 for 246 yards and four touchdowns.

Kelly also proved to be a viable option with his legs, finishing the year with 516 rushing yards and one touchdown. He also managed have seven of his eight punt attempts downed within the opponent's 20 yard line. Impressive for a quarterback!

Perhaps the most telling stat for Kelly in 2012 though: in the team's eight wins, he threw for 21 touchdowns without a single interception. In ASU's five losses though, he passed for just eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Defensive MVP

DL Will Sutton

Sutton submit one of the more impressive seasons for a Sun Devil since former defensive menace Terrell Suggs terrorized the conference. Sutton posted 64 tackles, 13 sacks and a whopping 23.5 tackles for a loss, earning the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award and became a member of the First Team All Pac-12 Defensive Squad for his efforts. Sutton was named a consensus All-American, taking home a large amount of hardware from numerous postseason award ceremonies. He's just the 15th Arizona State player to be named a consensus All-American in the program's history and the fifth Sun Devil to be named the conference defensive player of the year.

Sutton was the centerpiece for an attacking ASU defense that finished second in the nation for sacks and tackles for a loss. He capped off the year being named as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl's Defensive MVP leaving just one thing on all Sun Devil fans' minds.

Team MVP: Will Sutton

(see above)

Best Newcomer

RB Marion Grice

A surprising late addition to Coach Graham's first recruiting class last February, Grice wasted very little time making his presence known in Tempe. The Houston native reportedly broke off a long touchdown run on his first carry from scrimmage in fall practice and never looked back. Grice rushed for 679 yards in 2012, most on the team, and hauled in an additional 425 receiving yards, surpassing 1,000 total yards for the season. The playmaker proved to be an automatic touchdown machine for the Sun Devils as he found the end zone a whopping 19 times during his first campaign in Sun Devil maroon & gold.

Grice helped jumpstart a furious fourth quarter rally in Tucson as ASU overcame a ten point deficit to defeat their rivals and reclaim the Territorial Cup. Grice finished the game with 156 rushing yards and three touchdowns, taking home player of the game honors. He followed that performance up with 159 yards and two more touchdowns against Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, once game being named as the game's most outstanding offensive player. Despite being third on the depth chart for most of this last season, Grice figures to be the Sun Devil starter at running back in 2013. Better order more fireworks.

Breakout Player

LB Carl Bradford/TE Chris Coyle

It wasn't that long ago that Arizona State was a factory for talented tight ends, with former greats Zach Miller and Todd Heap going on to make names for themselves in the NFL. Coach Graham vowed to use the tight end more in his high-octane offensive scheme and the numbers in year one backed up that claim. Coyle set the Arizona State school record for receptions in a season with 57 for a tight end (previously held by Miller, 56) while totaling 696 receiving yards on the year. Coyle, equipped with arguably the surest hands on the team, quickly became the go-to target for quarterback Taylor Kelly across the middle of the field, averaging 12.2 yards per catch and hauling in five touchdowns. Coyle is another Sun Devil who is expected to factor heavily in the ASU offense in 2013, perhaps even challenging to break his own school record in the process.

Most Surprising Player

LB Chris Young/DL Jaxon Hood

It's probably fair to say not many Sun Devil fans expected the local freshman to contribute greatly in his first season at the college ranks. After all, the knock on Hood coming out of Chandler Hamilton High School was that at 6'-0", 290 pounds, he was undersized to play nose tackle in the Pac-12. But you can't measure a player's heart and fortunately for Sun Devil fans, he showed plenty in 2012. Hood and his roommate DJ Foster became just the fifth and sixth true freshmen to ever start their first games at Arizona State, an incredible feat for the two Phoenix phenoms. Hood posted a career-high five tackles against Oregon State in early November and finished the season being named to the Freshman All American teammate, coincidentally along with Foster.

Most Disappointing Player

DL Mike Pennel

Nicknamed "The Beast," Pennel was expected to be a cornerstone for the Sun Devil defense in 2012, anchoring the defensive line and providing the type of force in the middle that ASU sorely lacked in recent years. Instead, the 6'-5", 355 pound junior college transfer hardly saw the field. Attitude problems and a failure to "buy in" to Coach Graham's disciplined approach landed Pennel in the dog house before eventually being suspended from the team early in the season. He was eventually re-instated and played sparingly against UCLA and Oregon State before once again being suspended for a failure to meet team standards. As it stands now, Pennel is still suspended and his availability for the spring and next season remains to be determined.

Best Player to Exemplify "All In"

S Alden Darby

Line Alden Darby anywhere on the field and he'll contribute. In three seasons at Arizona State the Los Angeles native has played at safety, cornerback and even linebacker before returning to his natural safety position for the 2012 season. He quickly asserted himself as one of the defensive leaders of the team, always demonstrating a positive, encouraging attitude on the field and along the sidelines. Darby totaled 80 tackles and three interceptions on the year, including a 70 yard return for a touchdown against USC at the Coliseum in front of family and friends. The talented playmaker, who regularly leads the team in drills throughout practices, was awarded the Pat Tillman camouflage practice jersey by Coach Graham for his commitment to the team and outstanding effort on the field.

Best Player to Exemplify "Left Lane, Hammer Down"

LB Carl Bradford

The distinction may sound like something that should be awarded to an offensive player, but the remarkable play of Bradford during the second half of the season makes him a worthy candidate for the distinction nonetheless. Bradford, who started the season slowly as he learned the duties of his new role within the defense, transformed into a dominating defensive force by season's end and is an early candidate to contend for next season's conference defensive player of the year consideration. Bradford submitted a breakout performance against the Trojans with 10 tackles, a sack and an acrobatic interception that will surely make a few highlight reels to recap the season. He finished the season with 79 tackles, 11.5 sacks and the lone interception, mastering the Devil-backer position and demonstrating why he was so highly regarded coming out of high school.

Best Assistant Coach

Chris Ball, Defensive Passing Game Coordinator

Entering the 2012 season, the Arizona State secondary was considered an area of weakness for the Sun Devils. Thin on depth, and that was before Devan Spann and Laiu Moeakiola suffered season ending injuries in the preseason, and coming off a season where the team ranked 111th in the nation against the pass, ASU finished fourth in the country in pass defense in 2012, allowing just 167.9 yards per game in the air while coming up with 21 interceptions. Aside from the stunning statistics, the ASU secondary showed tremendous poise and discipline, minimizing the number of pass interference and holding penalties that plagued the team in years past and extended drives for the opposition.

Play of the Year

DJ Foster's diving touchdown reception against Colorado

Despite a number of incredible individual and team performances throughout the season, it was difficult to find a single play that stood out from the rest. However, Foster's 34 yard diving grab helped cap off a Sun Devil comeback against the Buffs after a lethargic first half that saw ASU get outplayed by an inferior CU squad. As explosive as Foster was running the ball (493 rushing yards) as a freshman, he was even more dangerous as a receiver with 38 receptions for 533 yards and four scores.

Best Moment of the Year

Overcoming ten-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Arizona in Tucson

Entering the fourth quarter at Arizona Stadium, the odds weren't in ASU's favor. The Wildcats had retaken the lead, re-energized the capacity crowd and even showed off some nifty dance moves on the sidelines before giving way to the most unlikely Sun Devil rally of the year. What started with a Jon Mora field goal quickly became one of the most memorable comebacks in the storied rivalry between the two teams as ASU outscored UA 24-7 in the final period to reclaim the Territorial Cup. The Sun Devils overwhelmed Arizona on both sides of the ball down the stretch, turning a Keelan Johnson forced fumble, a Kevin Ayers blocked punt and a Robert Nelson interception into three touchdowns to seal the victory.

Worst Moment of the Year

UCLA's game-winning 37 yard field goal as time expired at Sun Devil Stadium

How close was Arizona State to competing in the Pac-12 championship game this season? Well, one 37 yard field goal. That's how close. Despite being outplayed by UCLA for most of the afternoon, ASU jumped ahead of the visiting Bruins with a DJ Foster touchdown reception with just over 90 seconds remaining. The Bruins proceeded to drive straight down the field against an Arizona State defense that failed to slow valley native and redshirt freshman Brett Hundley as UCLA positioned itself for the game-winner. The loss proved to be instrumental as UCLA finished 9-3 and claimed the Pac-12 South for the second consecutive season while ASU settled for a 7-5 regular season finish. A win against UCLA would have left both teams at 8-4 with ASU controlling the tie-breaker. So close.

Best Quoted Player of the Year

Deveron Carr

Eloquent, polished and always extremely candid, Deveron Carr has routinely been one of the better Sun Devils with a recorder in his face, even after all the exhausting practices he went through under Coach Graham this year. The Scottsdale native turned in his best year as a Sun Devil helping rejuvenate an ASU secondary that competed for tops in the nation throughout the season. Having already graduated, Carr indicated recently that he'll be moving to Florida to train for the NFL combine and ASU Pro Day later this spring.

Redshirted Player You Most Look Forward to Watching in 2013

Terrell Davis

The Canadian running back made a name for himself with a shining performance in the team's maroon-gold scrimmage to conclude their return to Camp Tontozona back in August, highlighted by an 80 yard touchdown run that showcased his speed to compliment his physical running style. With the departures of seniors Cameron Marshall and James Morrison, the Sun Devils will have a need for another able running back to add to their backfield in 2013. We've already seen what fellow newcomers Foster and Grice have been able to do within the new Sun Devil offense; we'll soon get a chance to see if Davis can make a name for himself as well.

Describe ASU's 2012 season in 140 characters or less

It was a step in the right direction. After successfully changing the culture of the program, Coach Todd Graham has the Sun Devils primed for a big year in 2013.

***

Kyle Caldwell

Offensive MVP

QB Taylor Kelly

Kelly showed lots of signs of a first year starter, yet time and time again he proved he was the perfect fit at Quarterback in this Offense. Kelly finished the year close to several single season records and ranks 8th Nationally in QB Rating.

Defensive MVP

DL Will Sutton

Not much to debate on this one. Personally, I was very surprised to see Will develop into the beast he was this year. Previous years had shown an up and down path and yet Sutton prevailed through all of it to get where he is today. When he was out the team suffered greatly. Will is a class act in Maroon and Gold and rightfully has earned all the post season awards.

Team MVP

DL Will Sutton

The team was greatly hurt in his absence. Not often a Defensive Lineman brings in the Team MVP award, yet Will was clearly the most valuable player on the 2012 Sun Devils. 23.5 TFLs, 3 Forced Fumbles, and 13 sacks. And now we know we have him for #OneMoreYear.

Best Newcomer

RB Marion Grice

No doubt there were several key newcomers who greatly helped the Sun Devils in 2012, Grice stood above all others scoring 19 touchdowns just about every which way you can on Offense. As the season progressed he kept finding his rhythm and the coaches continued to feed him the ball. Marion finished the season with an exclamation point in the Kraft Bowl.

Breakout Player

TE Chris Coyle

Coming into 2012 Coyle had been totally absent in the Sun Devils Offense. That quickly came to an end as he hauled in a team leading 57 catches and 696 yards. Coyle was the do it all Tight End/H-Back who lined up all over the Offensive sets causing Defenses to account for him every play.

Most surprising player

Keelan Johnson

Another player who coming into the 2012 season had not accomplished much. Johnson racked up 88 tackles, 5 interceptions and a forced fumble. I call that a big, beautiful surprise!

Most disappointing player

Jamal Miles

It had been an exciting career to watch, with Miles providing the "game changing" type skills every time he touched the ball. 2012, told a different story as Miles failed to ever find the end zone. After some early fumbles in the season it was clear Jamal never found his confidence moving forward.

Best player to exemplify "All In"

Brandon Magee

No question here as Magee has been the poster child for the Todd Graham era, leading by example through the whole process. Magee is the "rock" that helped build the foundation in 2012 for what Sun Devil Football should pride its self on.

Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down"

D.J. Foster

The true freshman proved his stock was as advertised. Coming in a close second to Marion Grice in total yards, Foster is the type of player that looks like he is going to score nearly every time he touches the ball. 2013 is going to be more of the same as Foster looks to benefit big time from the off season program of Coach Griswold.

Best assistant coach

Paul Randolph

Coach Randolph was a key this season in helping create a Defense that ranked 2nd Nationally in Sacks, 4th in Interceptions, 2nd in yards lost and 6th in Scoring Defense with 3 touchdowns. Randolph is a high energy, speaking victory type character who every player seemingly loves playing for.

Play of the Year

Arizona was leading 27-17 and driving with less than 10 minutes left. Keelan Johnson came up with the play of the year, forcing a Matt Scott fumble, and creating the momentum that would lead to the ASU comeback win in Tucson. This one single play changed 2012 in every way possible.

Best moment of the Year

As a former player and someone who has extreme passion for the in-state rivalry. There was nothing more joyous than to watch the UofA fan base and sideline celebrate in dance off fashion only to realize the game was not over and the Sun Devil's fought to the end beating them in their own stadium with class. The Gangnam Style dance that night by the Zona Zoo in Tucson will surely live on in Sun Devil history, especially for this guy.

Worst moment of the Year

Last second loss to UCLA

The Sun Devils had put themselves in position to beat the Bruins at home in a crucial game only to see it slip away on a horrible defensive final drive.

Best quoted player

Punter Josh Hubner. His work in the media speaks for its self. After football Hubner needs to pursue a career in broadcasting. He is creative and can do work with a mic in his hands.

Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2013.

Terrell Davis

His fall camp showed flashes of beast mode and he looks to be a great power back in this Offense. Davis is the big body running back similar to Cam Marshall that can make the Defense cringe when he is in the game. I look for Davis to provide the Sun Devils with some excitement in 2013 as well as the rest of the backfield.

Describe ASU's 2012 season in 140 characters or less

Graham came in, created victory on and off the field, showed that discipline through character and work ethic will yield positive results.

***

Hod Rabino

Offensive MVP

QB Taylor Kelly Tough call between Marion Grice and Taylor Kelly, but ultimately when you have such as explosive offense as ASU did in 2012, scoring over 38 points a game, I feel that the nod at this category should go to the quarterback which is why I gave it to Kelly.

His story has been well documented, being downright underdog going into fall camp that ends up not only winning the starting job but throughout the season setting a few school efficiency records as well as coming within a hair of tying the record set by Andrew Walter for most touchdown passes . And I know you are all "sick" of me talking about the wide receivers' struggles this season, but that aspect makes Kelly's accomplishments in the passing game that much more remarkable. The fact that he led the team in gross rushing yards showcased his dual threat capabilities.

Some say that he doesn't have the highest ceiling of potential among ASU's signal callers and I would tend to agree with that statement. However, Kelly showed more often than not that he's simply the proverbial "gamer" and for that he earned my vote as the team's MVP on offense.

Defensive MVP

DL Will Sutton

Maybe I'll get creative later in this article, but in this category I'll try and not look foolish and simply select the most deserving player. ASU was among the Pac-12 leaders in both sacks and tackles for loss and the junior from Corona (Calif.) Centennial led the way in both stat lines with 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss. One can only wonder how much better his numbers would look if he didn't miss two games (minus a couple of down against Oregon) with a knee bruise.

ASU fans were promised in the off-season that their defense would be just as explosive as the offense would be. That promise was certainly fulfilled in large part to Will Sutton's play.

Team MVP

DL Will Sutton

After covering Terrell Suggs' Lombardi Trophy season ten years ago I thought it would take a few decades until I would see any ASU defensive lineman even come close to that level of dominance every game.

Will Sutton proved me wrong.

He was the most talked about player on this squad and for good reason. More often than not he was simply unstoppable and you can bet that every opposing offensive coordinator spent endless hours scheming on how to stop the 2012 Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

This past season we witnessed the best Sun Devil defensive unit since the turn of the century and Will Sutton was naturally a significant contributor. Now that he's returning for his senior year, the Sun Devil nation is greatly salivating as to what Sutton has in stored for an encore.

Best Newcomer

RB Marion Grice

Much like Will Sutton the mother of all no-brainers is giving this award to Marion Grice. With 19 touchdowns and 1,104 all–purpose yards, the junior college transfer was the offense's most electrifying player evoking memories of former ASU running back J.R. Redmond. He arrived on campus just a couple of weeks before fall camp and to say that he hit the grounding running since then, hardly a given with JC transfers, would be a gross understatement. One can only imagine how much more productive he could be in 2013 after one year in the system, with a larger number of carries and with potentially better offensive weapons around him.

Breakout Player

TE Chris Coyle

If you paid attention, you know that Todd Graham has been signing the praises of Coyle for literally the entire off-season, and this despite the junior being held of contact for literally all of spring practice. Fast forward 13 games later and Coyle flourished, to say the least, in an offense tailor made for him. He led the team with 57 receptions (breaking the school record for tight ends set by Zach Miller) and 696 yards, scoring five touchdowns. I won't get on my "wide receivers soap box" again but needless to say that without Coyle's contributions ASU's passing game would be well below average.

Most surprising player

I can't settle on one player, so I will give the nod to both safety Keelan Johnson and cornerback Deveron Carr. Even with exceptional front seven players such as Sutton, Bradford, Magee, Young, etc. ASU's defense often struggled against the run but was solid with its back four. That by and itself, at least in my opinion, is a surprise, and the tandem of Johnson (second leading tackler on the team with 88 stops) and Carr (eight pass breakups, nine passes defended) played a major role. For their first three years in Tempe, these local players were largely a disappointment. Both seniors certainly saved their best for last and made a statement at the end of their Sun Devil tenure.

Most disappointing player

WR Jamal Miles

Admit it – when you heard about a "High Octane" offense coming to Tempe, who was the first player you thought would benefit from this change? The local senior from Peoria could probably have never imagined a season where he didn't score a touchdown, making his 1,019 all-purpose yards one of the hollowest numbers in ASU's 2012 season statistics. Maybe the writing was on the wall as he missed the season opener due to violation of team rules, as well as with his pre-season struggles he experienced playing in a more traditional wide receiver role. Needless to say that his NFL stock took a beating, but I still feel that Miles, one of the best return men to ever don the maroon and gold, could still be playing on Sundays.

Best player to exemplify "All In"

RB Cameron Marshall

While I'm very tempted to give this award to linebacker Brandon Magee, I would be remised if I didn't select running back and fellow team captain Cameron Marshall.

The senior probably had every reason to sulk when his role in the ASU offense was dramatically diminished over last year, as he saw every week he saw his backfield teammates Marion Grice and D.J. Foster become a much bigger part of the game plan. To some extent, this season must have been nightmare for the running back. Marshall, simply put, is all class and never had a problem putting the team first. His unselfishness cannot be overstated.

Best player to exemplify "Left Lane Hammer Down"

RB D.J. Foster

When you collect over a 1,000 all-purpose yards, let alone as a true freshman who never returned a kick or a punt, and you display surprising toughness to go along with your trademark athleticism, I don't know how you could think of anybody more deserving.

When you come with as many accolades as the former Scottsdale Saguaro standout did, it would to stand to reason that you would have a major impact on the team. Nonetheless, we've seen time and time again, here in Tempe and across the country, freshmen who were four and five-star prospects fall flat on their face in their first year of college football. Foster's style of play, as well as mental fortitude, prevented him from that common pitfall. His Freshman All-American Honors by Fox Sports Next were justified.

Best assistant coach

Chris Ball/Joe Lorig

Will Sutton and the defensive line surely made the ASU's secondary job that much easier. But who in their wildest dreams thought the Sun Devils would rank at season's end in the Top 10 nationally for pass defense? The pass-happy Pac-12 doesn't usually "allow" for that to happen, does it?

Keeping that in mind, I will give a joint award to safeties coach Chris Ball and cornerbacks coach Joe Lorig. These coaches had my aforementioned surprise players of the year (K.Johnson and Carr) play at a level I don't think even those two seniors thought they were capable of playing. Alden Darby and Osahon Irabor played at a high level too and provide an excellent nucleus for ASU's defensive backfield in 2013. Cornerback Robert Nelson, who had an outstanding Territorial Cup game is poised for a breakout year in 2013 and just another reflection of the fine coaching here.

It's no secret that Head Coach Todd Graham worked quite a bit with this group, yet no one spent as much time in the film room and on the filed with the secondary as Ball and Lorig did so that is why I selected that tandem for this award.

Play of the Year

I may be trying too hard to be original here, choosing a play that came in a loss, but Carl Bradford doing is best impersonation of Superman, leaping to intercept USC's signal caller Matt Barkley's pass, was mighty impressive. We heard a lot about Bradford's exploits in ASU's strength and conditioning program and his performance at the L.A. Coliseum that Saturday afternoon definitely exemplified that freakish athletic ability.

And he was only a sophomore in 2012…

Best moment of the Year

The whole post-game atmosphere at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:

An emotional Marion Grice, who's brother was murdered a week before, receiving the Outstanding Offensive Player of Game award, ASU players showing the class they have exhibited all year joining the Navy team in their post-game tradition signing the Navy Hymn, Will Sutton smiling from ear to ear at the loud chants of "One More Year!" by the ASU fans (it worked), and seeing an elated senior class that was finally able to enjoy a winning year and post-season victory to boot.

Worst moment of the Year

UCLA's late game scoring drive which handed ASU's its most disappointing loss, 45-43, on a last second field goal. It was a scoring drive that last lasted just 93 seconds, covered 60 yards, ultimately took the Sun Devils out of the running for a Pac-12 South crown, and was another sore reminder that field goals in contest versus the Bruins never end well for ASU…

Best quoted player

Although I really enjoyed interviews by players such as Josh Hubner, Alden Darby and Deveron Carr No way I'm shutting Brandon Magee from getting any Devils Digest 2012 Post-Season Awards. A true face of the program/team ambassador with an infectious positive personality and a great sense of humor. Sure, ASU's leading tackler will be missed on the field, but off the field ASU beat writers know that players such as Magee made their job that much easier.

Redshirted player you look most forward to seeing in 2013

RB Terrell Davis

For ASU's running game to be successful in 2013, it will need a "three-headed monster" like it did this year. Terrell Davis (can you think of a better running back name?) could be part of that group.

It was hard to standout in a crowded offensive backfield, but Davis was able to do that with one the best ever Camp Tontozona scrimmage performances as he collected 123 yards on 16 carries and scored on a 75-yard touchdown. The staff has raved about his performance throughout the year on the scout team which usually is a good barometer for future success.

While I still think it's important for ASU to secure a high caliber running back in the 2013 recruiting class I think that Davis does provide some good depth at this position.

Describe ASU's 2012 season in 140 characters or less

Some said Graham was "all-talk" but at season's end the proof was that his players were indeed #Allin #seeingisbelieving

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