Football Gearing Up for 2003 Season
July 30, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Preparations for the 91st season of Sun Devil football get underway Wednesday, July 30 with Pacific-10 Conference Football Media Day at the Sheraton Gateway LAX in Los Angeles. Head coach Dirk Koetter and junior quarterback Andrew Walter will represent the Sun Devils at Pac-10 Football Media Day. Arizona State, which is ranked as high as 14th in the country in Street and Smith's preseason annual, will hold its annual Football Media Day on Monday, Aug. 11 at 1 p.m. in the Hobbs Family Stadium Club on the fifth floor of the Carson Student-Athlete Center. After four days of practices in Tempe, the Sun Devils will travel 100 miles northeast to Camp Tontozona (near Payson, Ariz.) on Aug. 15 for nine days of preseason workouts. ASU will hold its annual Camp Tontozona scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 8:40 a.m. ASU returns to the Valley on Aug. 23, while the Sun Devils kick off the 2003 season Saturday, Sept. 6, playing host to Northern Arizona at 7 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium.
Important Upcoming DatesJuly 30 Pac-10 Football Media Day (Los Angeles)July 31 Dirk's Details, 12 p.m. (Karsten Golf Course)August 10 All Players ReportAugust 11 ASU Football Media Day, 1-2 p.m. (Carson Center, 5th Floor)August 11-14 Practices in Tempe, 7:30-10:30 a.m. (Kajikawa Field)August 15 Team Departs for Camp Tontozona First Camp Tontozona Practice, 3:30-5:55 p.m.August 15-22 Camp Tontozona Practices (see SID staff for exact times)August 23 Camp Tontozona Scrimmage, 8:40 a.m. Team Returns to TempeAugust 25 First Day of ClassesAugust 26 Practices Start in Tempe, 6 p.m. (Kajikawa Field unless noted)August 30 15th Annual Fan Photo Day, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Wells Fargo Arena)September 1 First Weekly Press Conference, 12 p.m. (Carson Center, 3rd Floor)September 6 ASU vs. Northern Arizona, 7 p.m. (Sun Devil Stadium)
Who's BackThe Sun Devils return 37 letterwinners including 16 starters and one specialist in punter Tim Parker, a preseason third-team Street and Smith's All-American who led the Pac-10 in punting last year. The nine offensive starters slated to return are QB Andrew Walter, WR Daryl Lightfoot, LT Regis Crawford, LG Tim Fa'aita, C Tony Aguilar, RG Drew Hodgdon, RT Chaz White, TB Mike Williams and FB Mike Karney. On defense, the seven returning starters include DE Jimmy Verdon, DT Brian Montesanto, DT Shane Jones, CB R.J. Oliver, S Matt Fawley, FS Jason Shivers and CB Brett Hudson. S Riccardo Stewart also returns after starting nine games before missing the last four with a shoulder injury. (note - positions listed are last year's positions - some player positions have changed).
Walter's WorldIn 2002, sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter turned in one of the finest seasons in school history, setting most school records for passing yards and total offense. Walter shattered the school record for passing yards in a single season, throwing for 3,877 yards to become the first passer in school history to top 3,000 yards and surpassing the previous school record of 2,878 by Danny White in 1973. Despite not earning his first start until the fifth game of the year, Walter, who finished third in the Pac-10 and 19th in the nation in passing efficiency at 137.10, turned in the third-best single-season performance in Pac-10 history and became the first quarterback in Pac-10 history to turn in four 400-yard passing games in a season. No Pac-10 quarterback had ever thrown for more than three in a season and Washington's Cody Pickett and Walter are the only two to ever have four in a career. Walter completed 274 of 483 pass attempts, breaking ASU's single-season marks for attempts and completions - records previously held by Jake Plummer with 348 attempts in 1996 and Todd Hons with 199 completions in 1983 - while Walter's 28 touchdown passes marked the second-best effort in school history behind Mike Pagel who threw 29 TD passes in 1981.
With a 536-yard passing performance to upend No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, Walter set Pac-10 and Arizona State school records for single-game passing yards, surpassing the previous mark of 534 yards by fellow Sun Devil Paul Justin vs. Washington State in 1989. He was named the Oct. 20 Sporting News, cnnsi.com and USA Today.com National Player of the Week in addition to earning his first career Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honor.
Walter also shattered the majority of ASU's total offense records, setting the marks for total yards (3,661 yards) and yards per game (261.5 ypg). He also tied Danny White (1973) with four games with at least 300 yards of total offense and turned in the third-best season in Pac-10 history. He finished third in the league and 18th in the nation in total offense.
Walter on Davey O'Brien Award Preseason Watch ListJunior quarterback Andrew Walter has been named to the preseason watch list for the Davey O'Brien Award, which is given annually to the nation's top collegiate quarterback.
The watch list is comprised of 42 Division-I quarterbacks and will be narrowed down to the semifinalists in early November. Three finalists will be chosen later in November, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 11.
Walter has also been named a second-team All-Pac-10 selection by both Athlon Sports and The Sporting News and is listed as the eighth-best quarterback in the nation by The Sporting News.
Oliver, Stewart on Watch List for Jim Thorpe AwardJuniors R.J. Oliver and Jason Shivers have been named to the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top defensive back.
Oliver is coming off a season that saw him lead the Pac-10 in passes defended with 22 (4 interceptions, 18 PBU's) on his way to earning honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors. Shivers has led the Sun Devils in tackles both of his seasons in Tempe. A 2002 honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honoree, Shivers tallied 121 tackles in 2002, which tied for the most in the Pac-10.
The Thorpe Award watch list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists on Nov. 3 and then to three finalists on Nov. 24. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 at ESPN's College Football Awards Show. The official presentation of the award will be in Oklahoma City on Feb. 9.
Lighting Up the ScoreboardIn his two seasons at the helm, head coach Dirk Koetter's offense has turned in an average of 33.0 points per game. Last year, the Sun Devils averaged 32.3 points per game, which ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation. ASU's 45 points in its 45-42 upset at sixth-ranked Oregon on Oct. 19 were the most points in a Pac-10 road game for the team since defeating Arizona 56-14 in Tucson on Nov. 23, 1996, ASU's last regular-season game in that Rose Bowl campaign. The team set a school record for scoring in a Pac-10 game Sept. 28 with its 65-24 win over Stanford, besting the previous mark of 62 points, which also came against Stanford in a 1981 game (62-36 win). The 65 points ASU scored vs. the Cardinal were the most since the team tallied 66 against UTEP on Oct. 22, 1977. It also marked the fifth time that a Dirk Koetter-coached team has topped the 60-point mark (twice at ASU).
In 2001, the Sun Devils averaged 34.0 points per game, which tied for third in the Pac-10 with conference champion Oregon and 19th in the nation. The total marked the most for the team since 1996 when the Pac-10 champion and Rose Bowl-bound Sun Devils averaged 40.7 points per contest.
Turnover TaleThe Sun Devils forced a Pac-10 Conference-leading 40 turnovers last season, including 22 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles. In 2001, the team forced just 18 turnovers all season. Last year, the Sun Devils had a season-high seven turnovers Sept. 28 vs. Stanford (four interceptions, three fumbles) and four Oct. 12 vs. Oregon State (three interceptions, one fumble).
Interception ConnectionThirteen Sun Devils combined for ASU's Pac-10 leading 22 interceptions last year led by R.J. Oliver and Brett Hudson who each picked off four passes to finish tied for sixth in the Pac-10. Oliver also ended up leading the Pac-10 with a total of 22 passes defended. Their four interceptions mark the most for a Sun Devil since Nijrell Eason had five in 2000, while the team's 22 picks were the most for an ASU squad since the 1991 Sun Devils had nine players pick off 23 passes. The Sun Devils snagged four interceptions in the team's Sept. 28 win over Stanford, the most in a single game since ASU had five in a 1998 win over California.
All-Conference SelectionsTen Sun Devils earned All-Pac-10 Conference honors last season including first-teamers Shaun McDonald and Terrell Suggs. Suggs also became the third Sun Devil in school history to be named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Eight Sun Devils earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors, including Mike Williams who was named to the all-academic first team for the second straight year, one of 10 student-athletes in the conference to earn first-team honors for a multiple time. (Players returning in 2003 in bold)
All-Pac-10 First Team: WR Shaun McDonald, DL Terrell Suggs (also named Defensive Player of the Year)
All-Pac-10 Second Team: P Tim Parker (led Pac-10 in punting)
Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team: WR Skyler Fulton
NFL Draft NoteWith defensive tackle Terrell Suggs being taken by the Baltimore Ravens as the 10th pick of the 2003 NFL Draft, it marked the fourth straight season and 21st time overall that a Sun Devil has been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. In fact, Arizona State is just one of three schools in the country to have a player taken in the first round in each of the last four NFL Drafts (Miami and Florida are the other two).
Linebacker Ron Pritchard to Be Inducted into College Football Hall of FameFormer ASU linebacker Ron Pritchard (1966-68) will be one of 11 players and two coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this fall. Pritchard, who will be honored in an on-campus salute Nov. 11 at ASU's game vs. Oregon, becomes the fourth ASU player and sixth Sun Devil to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Legendary head coaches Dan Devine and Frank Kush were inducted in 1985 and 1996, respectively, while quarterback Danny White was inducted in 1997, defensive back Mike Haynes was inducted in 2001 and John Jefferson was inducted last year.
Arguably the greatest linebacker in the history of the ASU football program, Pritchard was Arizona State's first consensus All-American and led the Sun Devils to a pair of eight-win seasons.
A first-team All-American in 1968, Pritchard was elected team captain, voted Most Valuable Defensive Player by his peers and led the Sun Devils in tackles and interceptions that year. A three-time first-team All-Western Athletic Conference pick, he was selected to the 20-Year WAC All-Star Football Team. Following his senior season, he played in the East-West Shrine Game, the Coaches All-American Game, the Hula Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
After his legendary collegiate career, Pritchard was selected 15th overall in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. His professional career ended prematurely after nine years with the Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals due to a knee injury. After his pro football career, he went into sales and eventually ran his own business, Interstate Battery Systems.
Pritchard continues to give back to his community and particularly the game of football. For many years, Pritchard has sponsored and funded a scholarship at his former high school, which goes to aid a scholar-athlete in furthering his or her education. Pritchard also helps raise funds for the United Food Bank in Arizona.