ASU Football: Bradford Poised For Breakout Season


The junior linebacker ended the 2012 season as one of the biggest surprises in the Pac-12. Teaming with the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton, Bradford was an integral part of an ASU defense that wrecked havoc on opposing offenses. A unit that was ranked near the top of most major defensive categories including tackles for loss; 20.5 by Bradford. For his efforts, the Norco, CA, native earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors and was singled out by his peers and coaches as one of the rising talents in college football.

However, things turned sour for Bradford in March when, a week before spring practice began, his father, Roy, passed away following a heart attack. No one would have blamed the 20-year-old for wanting to be with his family during such a difficult time, but Bradford found strength in his “second family.”

“The whole ASU team, everybody, they’ve all been very supportive through this tragedy I had,” Bradford said. “There’s not a day goes by without thinking about it. I just try not to let it get in my way of coming out here and performing like I can. I try to keep a positive attitude and not let it affect me, even how hard it is on my heart. I try to just push through it, because I know he’d want me to do it.”

Bradford, a high school fullback, has used this spring to hone his skills at the versatile Devilbacker position, a linebacker/defensive end hybrid that allows the player space to use their athleticism and make plays. Bradford did just that last season; filling up the stat sheet to the tune of 81 tackles (58 solo), 11.5 sacks (No. 17 in the country), three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

Some players might rest on their laurels and grow content with numbers such as these, but Bradford sees room for improvement, utilizing spring practice to improve his technique and hip alignment and take his athleticism to a higher level.

“If I combine those, I could be unstoppable,” he said, “I’m still putting in work and performing for my team, and I’m ready to do bigger things this year.”

With the legacy of his father in his heart and a renewed motivation, Bradford will be looking to do just that this fall.