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Will Sutton returns for senior season at natural playing weight

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton led the Pac-12 in sacks last season and the reigning Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year is bigger and stronger this year. So where can quarterbacks direct their hate mail when Sutton is bowling them over on Saturday instead of preparing for a Sunday game? The NFL Draft advisory committee, which surprisingly gave Sutton only a fifth-round grade.

"Whatever they saw on film they didn't like, so I have to go out there and prove myself," Sutton said Friday at Pac-12 media day.

Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham attributed it to Sutton's lack of a proven track record. Sutton had only 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in his career before exploding for 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss last season.

"I think that had a lot to do with the fact that he wasn't even honorable mention all-conference the year before, so not many people knew much about him," Graham said. "He's better than he was last fall. I think he's going to have a dominant season."

Much of that confidence comes from Sutton's work in the weight room. He now checks in at 305 pounds after being at 271 coming into last season.

"That's his natural playing weight," Graham said. "It was just a natural thing because last year he had some bad weight on him, so he got down to 275 because we knocked the bad weight off him."

Sutton credits cutting sweets from his diet for the dramatic improvement.

"I'm going to have a cookie once in a while because I'm a big guy," he said with a laugh while reaching forward for a plastic-wrapped chocolate chip cookie to make his point.

The bigger concern for NFL scouts might not be weight, but height. Listed at 6-foot-1, Sutton could measure short of the typical attributes of the position.

Graham was quick to shoot that theory down.

"That's not what they tell me," Graham said. "I think he transitions to the NFL like Warren Sapp. I think he will be a very high draft pick."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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