While much of the headlines regarding the 2012 ASU defense were reserved for the front seven and…
1 –CB Phillippi Sparks (1990-91)
Before making his way to Tempe, Sparks starred in high school at Phoenix Maryvale High School and then was a key contributor to Glendale (Ariz.) Community College's 1988 NJCAA National Championship team.
During his two-year stay at ASU, Sparks was a full-time starter at left cornerback and earned all-league honors both years. As a senior in 1991, Sparks was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and a First-Team All-Pac-10 selection. Sparks also was featured as ASU's primary returns specialist during the 1990-91 seasons.
After his collegiate career Sparks was chosen in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and played nine total seasons in the NFL with the Giants and Cowboys before retiring prior to the 2001 season. In 2004, Sparks was inducted to ASU's Sports Hall of Fame.
Hons started at quarterback and was a team captain in 1982 and '83 and was named Offensive Most Valuable Player in the Sun Devils' 32-21 New Year's Day victory over Oklahoma in the 1983 Fiesta Bowl…Smith was a team captain in 1999 and after ASU he enjoyed a 10-year NFL career from 2000-09…Bates was a three-year starter at linebacker and earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recognition as a sophomore in 2000 and was later drafted into the NFL by Seattle…Hill started three seasons at defensive tackle, was a team captain both as a junior and as a senior and netted Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades as a junior in 2005…Jones, ASU's leading receiver and a Second-Team All-Pac-10 selection in 2008, also hauled in 10 touchdown receptions in 2007 and spent time on the Sun Devil baseball team.
2 – WR Creig Spann (1996-98)
A local product, Spann came to ASU after graduating from Phoenix South Mountain High School and later Phoenix College. He arrived on campus in 1996 and played in 1997-98, first posting 14 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown in '97. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the 1996 season but was awarded a medical hardship and an extra year of eligibility that was used in 1998 and that season he ranked second on the team in receptions (30) totaling 295 yards and one touchdown while also seeing time on special teams.
Cole, Hudson, London and Elder all saw time as starters in the secondary during their Sun Devil careers…Hudson had a team-high four interceptions in 2002.
3 – WR Keith Poole (1993-96)
For four seasons, Poole was the automatic complement to famed quarterback Jake Plummer, as the pair helped ultimately guide the Sun Devils to an appearance in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Poole came to ASU by way of Clovis (Calif.) High School and left ASU as one of the most accomplished receivers in school history.
A three year starter, Poole exploded as a junior as he became only the third player in school history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards. In total, he caught 55 passes for 1,036 yards with seven touchdowns, helping him net First-Team All-Pac-10 honors.
He again paced the team in receiving as a senior with his 47 catches for 967 yards with 11 touchdowns and earned Second-Team All-America honors by the Associated Press and First-Team All-Pac-10 recognition.
Poole was a fourth round selection in the 1997 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and ultimately spent five seasons at the professional level.
Honorable Mention: CB Kevin Miniefield (1988-92), RB/WR/CB Rudy Burgess (2004-07), CB Omar Bolden (2007-11)
Miniefield started three years and was a First-Team All-Pac-10 recipient and team captain as a senior in 1992…He played five seasons in the NFL and since 2008 he has worked in the ASU athletic department as the Former Student-Athlete Outreach Coordinator…Burgess is regarded as one of the program's most versatile players as he was a key contributor on offense, defense, kick and punt returns…He was a key figure in ASU's comeback victory over Purdue in the 2004 Sun Bowl and was a two-time Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 member…Prior to the 2012 season, Burgess returned to ASU as a graduate assistant with the football coaching staff…Bolden excelled at cornerback and on kick returns during his Sun Devil career, netting Unanimous First-Team All-Pac-10 honors in 2010…A two-year team captain, Bolden was selected by the Denver Broncos in the 2012 NFL Draft.
4 – CB Lenny McGill (1990-93)
A four-year letter winner and a two-year starter at left cornerback, McGill totaled a team-high four interceptions as a junior in 1992 and then garnered Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades as a senior in 1993. McGill was surrounded by NFL talent at cornerback during his Sun Devil career as he followed Phillippi Sparks as a starter and joined future pros Kevin Miniefield and Craig Newsome in the starting lineup during the 1992 and '93 seasons, respectively.
During his prep career at Escondido (Calif.) Orange Glen High School, McGill was not only one of the nation's top defensive back recruits in football but was also the top national triple-jumper. McGill would continue his track career as a Sun Devil, lettering three times at ASU.
After his college career concluded, McGill played in the NFL from 1994-1998 with Green Bay, Atlanta and Carolina.
In 2009 he was named the Denver Broncos' Assistant Director of College Scouting and has held the position ever since. From 2000-08 he was a college scout for the Green Bay Packers.
A Second-Team All-Pac-10 member in 1982, Moyer totaled 104 tackles and three interceptions for the Sun Devils' dominant defense that season…Willis was an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American and a Second-Team All-Pac-10 recipient at free safety on ASU's Rose Bowl champion squad in 1986…Williams was a two-time Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection and was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player in the 2005 Insight Bowl, his final college game…Tryon was a two-year starter after transferring from the junior college level and was an all-conference selection both years.
5 – LB Justin Burks (2003-04)
After transferring to ASU from Cerritos Community College, Burks appeared in every game of his two years as a Sun Devil and started all but one. In 2003, he ranked third on the team with 78 total tackles from his linebacker position and then in 2004, when ASU transitioned to a 4-3 defense from a 4-2-5, Burks earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades after posting a team-high 95 total tackles. He notched a career-high 13 tackles twice during his 24-game career, including his final collegiate outing in the 2004 Sun Bowl against Purdue.
Honorable Mention: DE Jim Reynosa (1982-86), SS Michael Williams (1989-91), ROV Harlen Rashada (1993-94; ‘96), S Zach Catanese (2005-06)
Reynosa was a two-year starter at defense end including ASU's Rose Bowl championship season in 1986…Williams, Rashada and Catanese were all starters in the secondary…Catanese earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recognition both years and was second on the team in tackles (107) in 2005 behind Pac-10 Conference Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Dale Robinson.
6 – LB Darren Woodson (1989-91)
A three-year starter at outside linebacker and an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recipient all three years, though Woodson was an above average collegiate player he grew to his highest levels of prominence during his stellar pro career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Woodson was selected in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft and converted from outside linebacker to safety and spent his entire 13-year pro career in Dallas. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time All-Pro and three-time Super Bowl champion, Woodson retired as the Cowboys' all-time franchise leader in tackles (1,350).
A Phoenix native and graduate of Maryvale High School, Woodson was inducted to ASU's Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
A four-year punter for the Sun Devils, Schuh was named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American in 1985 and '88 and was on all-league lists three times…Thomas only lettered one year at ASU but was the Devils' leading receiver in his lone year in Tempe…O'Neal was a two-year starter after transferring to ASU from the junior college level and earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades as a junior in 2000…ASU's leading receiver in 2009, Williams earned multiple all-conference honors as a returns specialist and just finished his third season with the San Francisco 49ers…Marshall tied ASU's single-season rushing touchdowns mark in 2011 with 18 and finished his career second on the school's career rushing touchdowns list (38) and seventh on the career rushing yards list (2,700).
7 – FS David Fulcher (1983-85)
The ferocious hitting safety came to ASU from Fremont High School in Los Angeles and by the time his Sun Devil career ended he became one of only three players in school history to earn Consensus All-America honors on multiple occasions.
The team's leader in interceptions in 1983 and '85 and the Sun Devils' top tackler in 1984, Fulcher measured 6-foot-3 and nearly 240 pounds, providing ASU an absolutely beastly figure at safety.
Fulcher earned First-Team All-Pac-10 honors all three years he played at ASU and was named a Second-Team All-American in 1983 before earning Consensus First-Team recognition the next two years.
A third round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1986 NFL Draft, Fulcher played eight pro seasons with the Bengals and the Raiders. Fulcher earned Pro Bowl nods three times (1988-90) and was an All-Pro selection in 1989 and '90 and also appeared in Super Bowl XXIII for the Bengals.
In 1996, Fulcher was inducted into ASU's Sports Hall of Fame.
Ford was named Offensive Most Valuable Player in ASU's 33-28 win over Air Force in the 1987 Freedom Bowl…Newsome was a First-Team All-Pac-10 selection in 1993 and an Honorable Mention choice the next year…Stewart nabbed Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades as a sophomore in 2002, Second-Team recognition as a junior in 2003 and First-Team honors as a senior in 2004…Burfict came to ASU as a five-star recruit and was named the 2009 Pac-10 Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year and then a Sporting News First-Team All-American in 2010…Though he went undrafted in 2012 after leaving ASU a year early, Burfict caught on with the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent and registered 127 tackles as a rookie.
8 – K Luis Zendejas (1982-84)
One of the top placekickers in college football history, upon the completion of his Sun Devil career Zendejas was the all-time Division I leader in points scored.
In 1983, Zendejas garnered Consensus All-America honors after earning Honorable Mention All-America recognition the previous two years. A three-year all-league selection while at ASU, Zendejas played professionally in the USFL, NFL and Arena Football League.
In addition to his own achievements, his name lives on in college football lore in the state of Arizona has he has had multiple family members kick for both ASU and Arizona and provide memorable (and at times dubious) efforts in the annual battle for the Territorial Cup.
Honorable Mention: K Alan Zendejas (1987-89), DL Larry Boyd (1990-93), RB Terry Battle (1994-96), RB Delvon Flowers (2001), CB Chris McKenzie (2003-04), WR Gerell Robinson (2009-11), LB Brandon Magee (2010-12)
Following in his brother's footsteps at kicker for the Sun Devils, Alan Zendejas collected Second-Team All-Pac-10 honors in 1988…Boyd tied for the team lead with 17.0 TFLs in 1993…Following two years as a reserve, Battle entered the starting lineup after starter Michael Martin was sidelined with a neck injury in 1996 and Battle ultimately posted one of the top rushing seasons in school history…Battle earned First-Team All-America honors by Sporting News and First-Team All-Pac-10 recognition after rushing for 1,108 yards and tying the school record with 18 rushing touchdowns while also excelling on kickoff returns…Battle left school a year early and was drafted by the Detroit Lions but his pro career was greatly limited due to injuries…McKenzie started at cornerback both years at ASU and has played in the NFL, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League…Robinson came to ASU as the state's top recruiting prospect in 2008 and later enjoyed an incredible senior season with 77 receptions for 1,397 yards and seven scores…Robinson's senior year yardage total is the second-greatest single-season amount in ASU history…Magee endured a season-ending Achilles injury prior to the 2011 season but returned in 2012 for an outstanding year in which he totaled 113 tackles and earned Second-Team All-Pac-12 honors..Magee also spent time on ASU's baseball team during his college career.
9 – DL Israel Stanley (1989-92)
A three-year starter on the defensive line for the Sun Devils, Stanley garnered Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recognition as a senior in 1992.
Honorable Mention: CB Jeff Joseph (1984-88), S Clint Floyd (2008-11)
Joseph saw time in the starting lineup at cornerback in the 1980s…Floyd earned Second-Team All-Pac-12 honors as a senior in 2011 after totaling 69 tackles and four interceptions.
10 – QB Jeff Van Raaphorst (1983-86)
Sure, he never was an All-American at ASU and his playing career came to a close shortly after his college tenure concluded. Yes, in three years as a starter the most notable all-league recognition he received was an Honorable Mention selection in 1984.
For many players these criteria (or lack thereof) won't kick up too many "warm and fuzzies" about a player, but Van Raaphorst—during and beyond his college playing career—has accomplished more than enough to be considered one of the more memorable athletes in Sun Devil history.
Van Raaphorst came to ASU from La Mesa (Calif.) Grossmont High School and started three years for the Sun Devils from 1984-86. As a senior, Van Raaphorst claimed his fame by captaining the Sun Devils to their first Pac-10 title and the program's first ever Rose Bowl appearance. After guiding the Devils to a 22-15 victory over Michigan on New Year's Day of 1987, Van Raaphorst was named the game's Most Valuable Player and instantly forever etched his name into Sun Devil history.
In addition to his Rose Bowl glory, Van Raaphorst also became the first Sun Devil to throw for over 2,000 yards three times, a group that now only includes Jake Plummer, Andrew Walter and Rudy Carpenter. Off the field, Van Raaphorst has been a steady spokesman and advocate for multiple alumni organizations and has long held the position of analyst beside play-by-play man Tim Healey for ASU's radio broadcasts. In 1998, Van Raaphorst was inducted to ASU's Sports Hall of Fame.
Honorable Mention: SS/P Kory Schuknecht (1972-74), QB Dennis Sproul (1976-77), QB Mike Pagel (1979-81), QB Paul Justin (1987-90), CB Jason Simmons (1994-97), LB Eric Fields (1998-01), S Keelan Johnson (2009-12), QB Taylor Kelly (2011-Present)
Schuknecht excelled at strong safety but also was ASU's punter in 1974…He totaled a team-high five interceptions in 1973 and earned Honorable Mention All-America recognition by the Associated Press and First-Team All-WAC honors in 1974 at safety…After wearing No. 16 his first two years, Sproul switched to No. 10 in 1976-77…In total, he was a four-year starter at ASU following legend Danny White and in 1977 he earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades by the Associated Press and First-Team All-WAC recognition as well as Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Game honors in ASU's losing effort against Penn State in the 1977 Fiesta Bowl…Pagel set a school record with 29 touchdown passes in 1981, a record that would stand until 2004…That season he earned Honorable Mention All-America attention by the Associated Press and Sporting News and First-Team All-Pac-10 honors…Pagel was inducted to ASU's Sports Hall of Fame in 1994…In 1989, Justin passed for what at the time represented the second-most yards in a season by an ASU quarterback (2,591), nabbing him Second-Team All-Pac-10 honors…Simmons received Second-Team All-Pac-10 honors as a senior and Honorable Mention accolades as a junior and as a sophomore…He memorably saw spot duty at quarterback in place of Steve Campbell in the 1997 Sun Bowl before embarking on a 10-year NFL career…Fields was a two-year starter at linebacker and also earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors…Johnson picked off a team-high five passes in 2012 and earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 recognition…In his first year as a starter in 2012, Kelly posted one of the most statistically impressive seasons by a quarterback in ASU history.