Arizona State is a great college with a long history of turning out some great football players. Over the years a number of players from there have gone on to great success in the National Football League. Some have even gone on to be big names in the game.
No quarterback from Arizona State has gone on to have more statistical success in the NFL than Jake Plummer. Plummer started 136 games during his NFL career and won 69 games. He also threw for 29,253 yards and 161 touchdowns during his career, both tops for any former ASU quarterback. The quarterback that is second to Plummer in those and most other categories is for Dallas Cowboys player Danny White. White doesn’t have as many career wins as Plummer, but his record is a lot better as he won 62 and lost only 30 during his career. Other ASU quarterbacks to make their mark in the NFL include Bill Kenney, Mark Malone, Mike Pagel, Bob Lee, Paul Justin, Andrew Walter, Todd Hons, and Jeff Van Raaphorst.
Arizona State has had some great running backs over the years and some of them have even gone on to excel in the NFL. Running back is one of the toughest positions to put up a long career at, and statistically one former Sun Devils player stands above most of the rest. Gerald Riggs, who went on to star for the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins, ranks first in the categories of games started, rushing attempts (1,989), rushing yards (8,188), and rushing touchdowns (69). In second place in most of those and other rushing categories is Hall of Fame fullback John Henry Johnson. Other ASU running backs to play significantly in the NFL include Leonard Russell, Mario Bates, Benny Malone, Art Malone, Tony Lorick, and Gene Foster.
The best NFL receiver ever turned out by Arizona is without a doubt Charley Taylor. Taylor had a long career and was very effective throughout it. He finished his career with 649 receptions for 9,110 yards, and 79 touchdowns. While Taylor sits at the top of the list, John Jefferson also had a very productive career, finishing with 351 receptions for 5,714 yards and 47 touchdowns. Two tight ends from Arizona State have also put up great receiving numbers, Jerry Smith and Todd Heap. Other prominent receivers who came out of ASU include Ron Brown, Larry Walton, Shaun McDonald, Ben Hawkins, Bruce Hill, Morris Owens, J.D. Hill, Bruce Hardy, Keith Poole, Zach Miller, Fair Hooker, Jerry Bell, and Aaron Cox.
Arizona State has also turned out some very good defensive players. Defensive statistics are a little fuzzy as they weren’t always kept before the early 1970’s. Based on available stats though, here is a look at some of the best defensive players from ASU. Trace Armstrong has recorded more sacks in the NFL than any other former Sun Devils player with 106, just ahead of the 102.5 that was put up by Jim Jeffcoat. No defensive player from Arizona State played in as many games (214), intercepted as many passes (54), or scored as many defensive touchdowns (8) as all world defensive back Eric Allen. The leading tackler in the NFL out of former ASU players is Darren Woodson with 803 tackles. This is just one more than the player in second place, Derek Smith. Some of the other notable defensive players to leave Arizona State and go on to play in the NFL include Mark Gastineau, Terrell Suggs, Mike Haynes, John Harris, Dan Saleaumua, David Fulcher, Al Harris, Louis Wright, Adam Archuleta, Phillippi Sparks, Brian Noble, Mike Richardson, Bob Breunig, Derrick Rodgers, Darren Comeaux, and Pat Tillman.
Little known info about Arizona State football players in the NFL:
-Jake Plummer, Danny White, and Bob Lee are the only former ASU quarterbacks to have winning records as starters in the NFL.
-The player who went on to score the most points in the NFL after playing football at ASU is kicker Mike Mercer with 594 points. This is 54 points ahead of the second place name on the list, Charley Taylor.
-The former ASU football player who went on to make it to the most NFL Pro Bowls is offensive guard Randall McDaniel. Twelve times during his career he was a Pro Bowler.
-The longest touchdown run in the NFL by a player from Arizona State went for 87 yards and was run in by John Henry Johnson. Second on the list is a 77 yarder by Robert Weathers.
-Defensive tackle Dan Saleaumua scored on three safeties during his NFL career. This is more than any other former Sun Devil.
-The tallest player ever drafted out of Arizona State University was offensive tackle Juan Roque who measured in at 6’8″.
-The heaviest player ever drafted out of ASU was offensive guard David Dixon who weighed in at 343 pounds at the time of the 1994 NFL Draft.
-When ranking the top ten former Sun Devils players by how many rushing yards they gained in the NFL, number eight on the list is quarterback Jake Plummer (1,853 yards rushing) and number ten on the list is Hall of Fame wide receiver Charley Taylor (1,488 yards rushing).
-No former ASU defensive player recovered more fumbles in the NFL than defensive tackle Dan Saleaumua with 18.
-The longest touchdown pass thrown by a former Arizona State Sun Devils player went for 85 yards and was thrown by quarterback Jake Plummer.
-Quarterback Danny White also played punter for much of his career. He ended up with more punts (610) and put yardage (24,509) in the NFL than any former ASU player.
-The longest career NFL touchdown reception ever caught by a former ASU player went for 92 yards and was caught by Ben Hawkins.
-The second longest touchdown pass ever caught in the NFL by a former Sun Devils player went for 90 yards and quarterback Mark Malone was actually on the receiving end of it.
-The leading kick returner in NFL history from ASU is Ron Brown who scored four kick return touchdowns and gained 4,493 yards. The leading punt returner is Eric Guliford who amassed 1,300 yards and 1 touchdown during his career. Neither player scored the most return touchdowns though, Mike Haynes scored twice on punt returns and Travis Williams scored six times on kick returns.
-Non-quarterbacks from ASU who threw passes for touchdowns during their NFL career include running backs Gene Foster (1), John Henry Johnson (2), and Mario Bates (1); as well as receivers Charley Taylor (1) and Larry Walton (1)
-The highest an Arizona State player has ever been taken in the NFL Draft is with the third pick of the first round. This happened in 1964, when the Washington Redskins used that pick to take wide receiver Charley Taylor.