Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Plummer's First Impression Wasn't Lasting

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Plummer's First Impression Wasn't Lasting

Article excerpt

When Jake Plummer arrived at the Arizona State campus in 1993, he was perceived as less than a savior.

"He had that hat on backwards and was wearing these grubby clothes. He was skinny and scrawny, and I didn't know if he could ever play here," receiver Keith Poole said. "Sometimes you see the people they bring in and you say, `Why'd they recruit this guy?' Jake was one of those."

Offensive tackle Juan Roque was even more dismayed. "I said, `How could they actually recruit this pencil-necked little guy?' " Roque said. His first instinct was to ask Plummer, still a rail at 6 feet 2, 190 pounds, to fetch him a towel. And Plummer's cockiness once compelled Roque to slam him against a wall. "One time," Plummer recalled, "he got his hands around my neck and said he was going to kill me." It's 1997 now, and today the pencil-neck leads undefeated Arizona State into the Rose Bowl against Ohio State with a national championship potentially in the balance. "For what he's done for this team," Roque now says, "I'd lay my life down for him. . . . He's basically the golden goose." Perhaps only because Roque didn't kill the golden goose has Arizona State gotten where it is today. Roque himself believes the Sun Devils would be a 6-5 instead of 11-0 without Plummer, who finished third in Heisman Trophy balloting. "There is not a single player in college football who means more to his team than Jake," Arizona State coach Bruce Snyder said, adding, "He's fiercely competitive. That is something either you're born with or you learn very early. It's not something that we gave him." That helps account for his two "pancake" blocks - 72 fewer than Orlando Pace, but surely two more than any quarterback in a passing offense. What also makes Plummer special are his unpredictability and resilience. Arizona State's most celebrated victory this season was its 19-0 muzzling of two-time defending national champion Nebraska, but the Sun Devils had unlikely victories. …

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