VOTE: Who is the best CB tandem in ASU history?Posted: Updated:
The week of tough Arizona State football choices continues.
Who is the best single-season cornerback tandem in ASU history?
Mike Haynes and Mike Martinez (1975)
One of the greatest defensive players in ASU history, Haynes capped off his Sun Devil career by being named a consensus All-American in 1975. Haynes
While teams were afraid to throw Haynes' way, they found no relief when they targeted fellow cornerback Mike Martinez. The junior made a team-high seven interceptions, and in the process earned honorable mention All-American honors.
1975 remains the only season in school history in which two cornerbacks earned All-American recognition.
Eric Allen and Anthony Parker (1987)
Following up on a Rose Bowl year is difficult, but made a little easier when you have a cornerback duo as talented as Allen and Parker.
Allen, already one of the nation's best defensive backs, made eight interceptions on the year, returning two for touchdowns, In the process, he amassed 185 return yards (including a school record 127 against Washington State) , setting an ASU single-season record (now No. 2 to Nathan LaDuke's 255 in 1990). Before moving on to a highly decorated NFL career, Allen was named a first-team All-Pac-10 player in 1987.
Parker, also the team's ace punt returner, would provide a formidable presence opposite Allen before enjoying a nine-year NFL career in which he made 15 interceptions and scored four touchdowns. He also is the father of recent ASU linebacker Colin Parker.
Phillippi Sparks and Kevin Miniefield (1991)
The middling Larry Marmie era at ASU ended after the 1991 season, but at least it went out with excellent play at cornerback.
Sparks led the way as the team's No. 1 cover man. The future second-round pick of the New York Giants nabbed a pair of interceptions on the year and was named a All-Pac-10 first team player.
Opposite Sparks was an up-and-coming player in Kevin Miniefield, who would earn a first-team All-Pac-10 spot a year later in 1992.
Lenny McGill and Craig Newsome (1993)
Newsome came to ASU from the JUCO ranks and made an immediate splash by collecting First-Team All-Pac-10 honors his junior season after picking off a team-high four passes in 1993. He went on to collect Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 distinction the following year before being picked 32nd overall in the 1994 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
McGill, two-year starter at cornerback for the Sun Devils, was Newsome’s running mate for the 1993 season and took home Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recognition his senior season before embarking on a six-year NFL career.
Omar Bolden and Justin Tryon (2007)
One of the top overall defenders of the past decade for the Sun Devils, Bolden made an immediate impact as he quickly entered the starting lineup during his true freshman season in 2007. Bolden started the final nine games of his freshman year, instantly asserting himself as a playmaker by returning an interception 29 yards for a touchdown in his first career start. In all, he totaled 33 tackles with six pass breakups and the one interception and was named a Freshman All-American by numerous outlets. Bolden continued to grow as his career progressed as he claimed First-Team All-Pac-10 honors in 2010 and this past season finished his second year in the NFL with Denver Broncos.
Tryon, a key junior college transfer, earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades his first season at ASU before improving to second-team recognition his senior year when he paired with Bolden in the secondary. On the year, Tryon totaled 56 tackles with 19 passes defended including three interceptions – one returned 69 yards for a touchdown at Washington State. After his stellar two-year tenure, Tryon was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
Osahon Irabor and Robert Nelson (2013)
The only time since 1975 that both Sun Devil corners earned first or second-team all-conference honors in the same year, steady veteran Irabor was joined with first-year starter Nelson, who proved to have a notable nose for the football. Both players complemented each other perfectly, as one was a tenacious, tenured tactician while the other was an opportunistic playmaker.
A starter since midway through his redshirt freshman season, Irabor ended his ASU career having started 47 consecutive games. A second-team All-Pac-12 honoree, Irabor totaled 54 tackles with three interceptions, while also showing a fearless attacking nature with 5.5 tackles-for-loss including one sack.
Nelson, a former Louisiana-Monroe transfer who served as a primary backup as a junior in 2012, caught fire near the end of the season and accumulated 57 total tackles with six interceptions and 12 total passes defended on his way to first-team All-Pac-12 honors, becoming the first Sun Devil cornerback since Courtney Jackson in 1999 to take home first-team all-league recognition.