Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The 2011 season simply can't get here fast enough for Arizona State.
A long misfortune-filled offseason got even longer for the presumptive Pac-12 South favorites Wednesday, as senior defensive end James Brooks left the team for the ubiquitous "personal reasons." After missing the Devils' spring game for academic reasons, he is expected to remain in school and continute pursuing his degree.
Brooks had endured a turbulent career in Tempe (having been suspended for three games in 2009 for violating team rules) but became an integral part of the Sun Devil defense and special teams last season, recording 7.5 tackles-for-loss, 4 sacks, and a pair of blocked extra points in ASU's high-wire 30-29 Territorial Cup victory over Arizona. Entering his senior season, Brooks was expected to join with super-sophomore Junior Onyeali and fellow senior Jamar Jarrett to form one of the Pac-12's most fearsome defensive end rotations.
But like a lot of the Sun Devils' plans since winning that game over Arizona, those expectations aren't going to come to fruition; Brooks's decision is believed to be final. He now joins All-Pac-12 corner Omar Bolden, receiver T.J. Simpson, and quarterback Steven Threet on the list of projected ASU starters who won't play in 2011. And the news comes in the same offseason as the shooting of running back Deantre Lewis and the arrest of safety Ramon Abreu, not to mention a dispiriting Signing Day haul.
Even after all the setbacks, the Sun Devils may still deserve their summer tags of "division favorites" and "top-25 material." But if they do fulfill their preseason press clippings, there's no question they'll have done it the hard way.