Suggs and McDonald Forgo Senior Seasons at ASU

It was one of the worst kept secrets in Tempe, which was finally made official today. Defensive end Terrell Suggs and wide receiver Shaun McDonald will leave ASU and enter the NFL draft.

Following the presentation of the Ted Hendrick's Award to Suggs, the junior announced that he has played his last season for the Sun Devils. It has been a phenomenal season for Suggs who set the NCAA record for sacks at 24, and recorded the most tackles for loss in the nation at 31.5. Aside from the Hendricks award, Suggs won the esteemed Lombardi award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Pac-10's Morris Trophy, and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

The Chandler Hamilton standout, who excelled as a running back in his high school days was overwhelmed to win the Ted Hendricks Award. "It's amazing to be presented with this prestigious award and have the guy that made it give it to you." Suggs who holds ASU records for single season sacks, career sacks (44), single-season tackles for loss (31.5), and career tackles for loss (65.5), was never mistaken for being shy or introverted. However, he sounded very humble when asked about all of his achievements in the 2002 season. "My parents always tell me to aim for the moon, so if you miss at least you'll be among the stars. I never thought it would blow up like it did, I always strive for greatness, but it's definitely done a great thing for me." Then again, when the defensive end who's a big fan of the big screen asked if he thought they would ever make a movie about his life, he smiled and said: "Hopefully."

The consensus All-American selection credits his improvement this past season to the Sun Devils' conditioning program. "My strength coaches didn't really care what the world was saying about me, they knew we had to build something so they put 15 pounds on me, 15 great pounds of good weight. They got me stronger and I didn't lose any speed." Consequently, he listed his most memorable moment off the field as: "Six a.m. runs and lifts. That's where you get to see the result of hard work. That's the hardest thing I ever did in my life physically. But it was something we did together and I'm going to take that on with me for the rest of my life." When looking at a player of his caliber, it's easy to assume that his god given talent, more than his hard work, is the reason for his success. Nevertheless, Suggs begs to differ on that point. "It's perseverance that everything isn't always going to be roses, that everything you want to achieve in life is going to be hard to get. I've experienced the highs and lows of being on a collegiate football team and it's definitely a hard earned journey, but it just goes to show that hard work doesn't go unnoticed."

Even though he's projected to go in the top 15 picks, the decision to skip his last year in the maroon and gold was hardly a slam-dunk one. "It was very hard, I mean it came down to last night (Wednesday) with my parents and everybody it was kind of like the final say last night…It was a very hard decision especially to leave some things undone I mean especially where are team is, so it was a very hard decision." Suggs added that he didn't seek the NFL's opinion when making his decision. "That would have been a biased perspective if I would have started talking to them. I wanted to only include in my decision the people that affect me most, my family, my teammates. I didn't really care about the NFL's perspective."

When asked which game stands out the most in his ASU career he quipped: "Oregon. Definitely coming from behind against the number six team in the nation. You know when you're down 21 and you turn and look to the sideline and you still see that no fear attitude and you go out there and go down swinging, I mean that was definitely the most memorable game at ASU." He also mentioned the chance getting to the Rose Bowl as the biggest pro of him coming back to ASU. When it was all said and done, that factor paled in comparison to the benefits of going to the NFL.

While Suggs' proclamation was hardly a surprise; McDonald's announcement did raise some eyebrows. The NFL puts much credence in a player's physical stature. The junior who stands 5-8 172, doesn't posses the typical NFL dimensions of his position. Furthermore, Shaun's brother and ex-Sun Devil Tariq also declared early for the pros, and ended up not playing one down on Sundays. "Him and I are two different players." McDonald said. "Two different situations." Just like Suggs, McDonald has etched his name in the school's record books with 87 passes for a record of 1,405 yards.

The Biletnikoff Award finalist also mentioned the difficulty in his decision. "It was a tough decision, it's the hardest decision I've ever made. It took me awhile to talk to my family, talk to my coaches and talk to my teammates and I think this is the best thing for me." McDonald who was named the Pac-10 Conference first-team receiver for the second year in a row, said that his decision was something that: "My parents had talked to me about it throughout the season, but not until the Arizona game did I sit down and look at the pros and cons which is what I made my decision on." And what were those pros and cons? "Some of the pros were this is a dream, it's every guys dream when you're little to play in the NFL so being that I had the opportunity to get drafted it's something that I had to think about and I feel it's the right time to do…I'm trying to accomplish another goal of mine and that was a main factor." The receiver is scheduled to graduate in May, which was another aspect in his decision to leave school early.

ASU's Coach Dirk Koetter was very supportive of both his juniors. He said that he and his staff helped McDonald to get as much information as possible when the receiver contemplated skipping his last year in Tempe. "We just tried to provide Shawn and his family with all the information and numbers based on what kind money he could expect from different rounds, tried to get the best feedback we could from the NFL people and then again we said that you have to do what makes you and your family happy."

Koetter said that Suggs would be difficult to replace both on and off the field. "It's a sad day in the aspect that we are losing a tremendous player and a great team guy…You can't replace a guy like that. He has evolved into a tremendous leader. He has a very unique style, he speaks from the heart and he means what he says and that part will probably be very difficult to replace." However, Koetter wasn't all gloom and doom on this day. "It's also a proud day because like Terrell said this has been a goal of his to play in the NFL and he is certainly ready to go and he's going to be a great professional player and a great representative of Arizona State. The main advice we offered him was just that everybody involved with the Arizona State program would stand behind Terrell and to make the best decision for him and his family and we'd be there to support him 100 percent."

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