Will Sutton has a decision to make. On one hand, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year can enter the 2013 NFL Draft and probably get selected rounds two through four. On the other hand, Sutton could return to Arizona State and play his senior season, which could raise his draft stock or lower it. And what happens if he gets hurt?
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was in a similar position in 2002 after the Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats in the final game of the season. Of course, he got much more attention from NFL teams than Sutton will receive, but the situation is still the same. Should I stay or should I go? Suggs offered some advise from first-hand experience.
"He's got to decide if the team has a chance to compete if he comes back to ASU," Suggs said. "And does it help or hinder his chances."
If Sutton stays, the best case scenario is that not only do the Sun Devils have a good year, but he increases his draft stock dramatically. However, there is easily a scenario in which his draft stock falls, whether due to injury or just a mediocre season.
"You don't want to become a fourth- or fifth-rounder because you didn't perform the next year," Suggs said. "At the same time, you don't want to be a third-rounder and wonder ‘what if I had a better year?' There's no easy decision."
And the absolute worst case scenario would be for Sutton to return to ASU only to injure himself on one unlucky play, which could jeopardize everything he has worked for.
"If you make that decision to come back, one play can end it all. It doesn't even have to be an illegal hit. It could just be something unfortunate or some fluke play where a guy hits your knee and blows it out, and then all the things you've worked for, all the things you've dreamed of, are gone."
Suggs only real advice was for Sutton to talk to the people who helped him get to where he is today and to listen to their advise. He said that, in the end, there is no wrong decision. He can return to ASU where he is obviously happy and play the game he loves for another season, strengthening relationships, or he can enter the draft and become an NFL player, which he says is "a good life, too."