Arizona State junior defensive tackle Will Sutton, a consensus All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, will return to the Sun Devils for his senior season in 2013.
Sutton announced his decision to bypass the NFL Draft at a news conference Tuesday on campus, accompanied by ASU head coach Todd Graham.
"I'm going to stay and play another year," said the soft-spoken Sutton, followed by a pause. "That's it."
Upon questioning, he elaborated on his reasoning: "It wasn't one thing. Some of the main things were coming back to win a championship; being with my teammates; getting an education, getting my degree."
Sutton, who had a solid but unspectacular sophomore season with the Sun Devils in 2011, took the Pac-12 by a storm as a junior. He earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year while finishing the season with 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss despite missing all of one game and all but one play of a second with a knee injury. He finished the season with a flourish, recording 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the Sun Devils' 62-28 victory over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
He was the anchor of an Arizona State defense that was the second stingiest in the Pac-12, behind only conference champion Stanford. His value to the defense was readily apparent in the games in which he was sidelined by a bone bruise -- a 43-21 loss to Oregon in which he was injured on Oregon's first play and a 45-43 loss to UCLA.
At 6-feet-2 and 271 pounds, he lacks protypical NFL size for the interior line -- and a heftier weight could cost him the quickness that was his trademark at ASU. Still, playing another college season and risking another injury could have consequences on his draft status and earnings power.
Graham said prior to the announcement that he expects even greater things from Sutton next season: "I really believe we've just scratched the surface of what he can do. As much improvement as he made this year, I think he could make even that much improvement next year."