"Sitting out last year was real tough," Sutton said. "But it's all in the past now. I know the coaches have high expectations for me, so I just have to go out there and play my hardest."
Defensive line coach Scott Brown said he hopes Sutton uses sitting out last season as motivation.
"That's an opportunity for every young player to realize how valuable the game is," Brown said. "When it's not there, there's a tremendous void."
?Though Sun Devil fans haven't seen Sutton in more than year, he isn't a newcomer. Sutton was deemed good enough to play as a true freshman in 2009, starting two games. He signed with ASU along with two of his teammates from Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., linebacker Vontaze Burfict and wide receiver Jarrid Bryant.
The trio joined now senior linebackers Brandon Magee and Shelly Lyons, also from Corona. The five players make up the largest amount of high school teammates from an out-of-state school to ever appear on a Sun Devil roster at one time.
"They are one of the main reasons I chose to go to ASU," Sutton said. "It's been real fun remembering the high school days with them, then just coming out here and playing full speed with them."
While he was ineligible last year, Sutton made use of his redshirt year, and enters 2011 with three full years remaining to play. The sophomore has already begun spring practice in the best shape of his life. Though he is listed at 285 pounds, Sutton said he currently weighs in at about 270.
Now, the redshirt sophomore is at about the same weight as when he entered ASU. By the end of Sutton's freshman season, he said he had ballooned to 305 pounds, and it cost him some of his trademark quickness.
"I lost my speed," Sutton said. "I just gained too much weight so I had to get back down. Speed is my strength because I'm not really that overly-big defensive tackle."
Brown, who is new to the ASU coaching staff, said Sutton is quite capable of playing at a lower weight than most defensive tackles. Brown added Sutton's weight loss has made him more explosive.
"I knew who he was coming out of high school, and I was impressed with him then," Brown said. "Certainly when I watched all the video tape of him practicing last year, I was impressed with him. He has an incredible future."
Sutton will be essential in replacing Lawrence Guy, who started at defensive tackle the last three years before bypassing his senior season for the NFL Draft. Last year's other defensive tackle, Saia Falahola, was the only senior starting on defense.
"Last year we rotated a lot, so the other guys have experience," Sutton said. "I have experience even though I sat out last year. So I feel we know how to play the game. We just have to go out there and have fun."