December 3, 2002
Speak of the Devil
by Keith Weiland
Terrell Suggs is tempting, isn’t he?
Arizona State’s record-setting defensive end could be too much for the Texans to ignore come draft day. Tough to blame them if he was. If Suggs chooses to forgo his senior season, he’ll be the best pass rusher available in the 2003 draft.
Don’t believe me? Well, Oregon head coach Mike Belotti sure sounded like another Devil’s advocate when he said, “Suggs is the most dominant player I have seen on film this year.”
It’s tough to argue with Belotti after watching some film myself. Suggs, at 6’3″ and 250 pounds, is ideal as an outside linebacker in the Texans’ 3-4 defense.
Why? Well, the devil is in the details
Suggs burst on the scene in 2000, notching 10 sacks as a freshman. He then followed up with another 10 sacks in 2001. As a junior this year, he more than doubled his career total. With two more sacks added to his total on Friday against Arizona, Suggs has set a NCAA record with 22 sacks this season.
Ah, but the NCAA has only been keeping sacks as a statistic for three seasons. As I said, the devil is in the details. The PAC-10, however, has been keeping sack stats much longer, and Suggs has three more than the previous record holder, Al Harris, and two others tied at 19. For his career, Suggs surpassed Shante Carver for the school record. Again, Suggs is only through his junior season. If he wanted to, Suggs could make the sack record virtually untouchable if he stayed one more year at Arizona State.
Back to the NCAA record for a moment. The previous record holder, Dwight Freeney, offers us a tempting comparison to Suggs since both are known as fearsome pass rushers but undersized as 4-3 defensive ends. Suggs is a good two inches taller than Freeney, but he lacks Freeney’s flat-out speed and strength.
Suggs is working on his strength. For the first time ever, he logged significant time in the weight room this past offseason. Suggs added two things: first, some much needed weight (nearly twenty pounds), and second, the respect of his peers, many of whom thought Suggs had something of a devil may care kind of attitude. Now, Suggs is a vocal leader on his team.
Suggs is still a little raw as an end because he came to Arizona State as a tailback in high school. When he figured his chances at playing time at the college level were limited, Suggs went on the defensive. The defensive side of the ball, that is.
Some of those tailback skills went with him, too. Suggs has a low center of gravity that keeps him on his feet, especially useful when taking on a block from an offensive tackle. Suggs also has as quick of a first step as there is college football, a very crucial skill for a pass rusher.
Suggs isn’t great against the run, but he can hold his own. He has dropped into zone coverage on occasion, but best of all, Suggs puts forth a lot of effort on every down. His non-stop motor matches his non-stop mouth.
And that mouth has done some talking both on the field as well as off. He spilled the beans that he’s been known to shave off all his body hair before a game for good luck. Smooth.
He also let out the secret that he knows a little of how to read lips, a useful skill when Suggs needs to know the snap count. He learned how when he took a sign language class as a freshman, but the devil is once again in the details. Suggs didn’t take the class to get an edge on the field, but instead to pick up chicks. Again, smooth.
One secret Suggs hasn’t let out yet is whether he’ll stay with the Sun Devils for a senior season. He’s promised his mom that he would get his degree, but another meeting with mom is scheduled once Arizona State has played its bowl game.
If he does declare for the draft, it remains to be seen how high Suggs will go. Comparing with Freeney again, Freeney hopped all over the board pre-draft until the Colts took him at number 12 as a mild surprise. Another pass rushing ‘tweener, Jevon Kearse, slipped on draft day until the Titans selected him at number 16.
The difference this time around is that more teams are playing the 3-4 defense, so demands for a player of Suggs’ speed, ability, and ‘tweener size will be greater than in recent memory. As one of those teams employing a 3-4 scheme, the Texans, may take one look at Suggs on film and find themselves overcome with temptation.
Tune in, Drop Out Not much left before the bowl season commences, but there are still a few conference championship games to scout this weekend, including this one…
Georgia @ Arkansas, CBS, 5pm – The Bulldogs have a linebacker named Boss Bailey who’s in charge of a pretty good defensive unit. Fully recovered from an ACL injury he suffered a couple years ago, Bailey is a textbook talent at linebacker. They’ve also got an offensive tackle named George Foster who has first day potential. The Razorbacks have a junior free safety named Ken Hamlin that could make some noise on draft day, too, if he declares for the draft.
Keith Weiland lists “devil’s food” among the types of cake he enjoys.