No. 32: Defensive end Junior Ah You, 1969-71
Each day we are counting down the top 50 football players of all time at Arizona State:
Honors, accomplishments at ASU: Three-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection. ... 1984 inductee into the ASU Sports Hall of Fame. ... 2012 member of ASU’s Ring of Honor.
Why he made our list: Put simply, Ah You was tough. Legend has it that the former ASU defensive end had a confrontation with a bear during a 1969 trip to Camp Tontozona. “That would’ve been a pretty good match,” coach Frank Kush said at the time.
Ah You turned into a force on the defensive line. In 1970, he was a key contributor on a defensive unit that allowed only 236.9 yards and 12.2 points per game. He was a three-year starter and a three-year All-WAC selection.
“Nobody looks more like a Polynesian warrior than Junior,” Sports Illustrated once wrote of Ah You. “He has a body builder’s physique, smoky eyes flanking a hawk nose in a high-cheekboned face, a Fu Manchu moustache embracing a mobile mouth full of flashing white teeth — and nobody’s name sounds less like one.”
The Sun Devils went 30-3 during Ah You’s years as a starter. In 1971, United Press International named him a second-team All-American.
Ah You often played his best in bowl games. In 1970, he was co-Outstanding Player in ASU’s win over North Carolina in the Peach Bowl. The next year, he was Defensive MVP in ASU’s 45-38 win over Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl.
“Junior was one of the first pure pass rushers to ever play the game,” said John Teerlinck, a veteran NFL assistant coach said.
Life after college: The New England Patriots selected Ah You in the 17th round of the 1972 NFL draft, but he opted to play in the CFL. Ah You played for the Montreal Alouettes until 1982. In 1987, he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
In 1996, Ah You addressed ASU before the Sun Devils played Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. “I was the first Polynesian player at ASU,” he told them, according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. “I played my heart out because I could have been picking pineapples here. Instead, I got picked up by a good coach (Frank Kush), just like you have been picked up by a good coach.”