This is as loaded as any list there is an impossible to narrow it down to 10 players.
Finding the 10 greatest defensive linemen to ever come through Arizona high schools is a daunting task. There could easily be another 10 not on this list that could be argued to make it.
Here are my 10 best defensive linemen to play football in Arizona high school history.
No. 1 Curley Culp, Yuma, 1964
An All-American at Arizona State after a standout prep career for the Criminals, Culp later played 14 NFL seasons and made six Pro Bowls. He is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. His name is on the annual Arizona high school football award that goes to the top senior defensive lineman.
No. 2 Terrell Suggs, Chandler Hamilton, 2001
He was a beast carrying the football and sacking quarterbacks in high school when he was All-American. He lined up on the edge and was basically unblockable. He continued that at Arizona State, before becoming an outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens as a six-time Pro Bowler and is still going strong.
No. 3 Mark Gastineau, Eagar Round Valley, 1975
He was special in the White Mountains, but nobody then knew how great he would become in the NFL. He is considered among the top pass rushers in NFL history in a career that spanned 10 years with the New York Jets. He had 22 sacks in the 1984 season and finished with 107 ½.
No. 4 Cameron Jordan, Chandler, 2007
Great discus thrower in track, Jordan was a monster at defensive end with 17 ½ sacks his senior season at Chandler. He went onto California, where he made first-team All-Pac-10, before becoming a Pro Bowl player for the New Orleans Saints.
No. 5 Rob Waldrop, Phoenix Horizon, 1989
While playing for the University of Arizona, this monster in the trenches won the Outland Trophy in 1993 when he was first-team All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He also is in the College Football Hall of Fame.
No. 6 Mike Dawson, Tucson, 1972
He was a two-time all-state player who became a first-round NFL draft pick in 1976 out of UA. He played 10 NFL seasons, the first seven for the St. Louis Cardinals, where he started the majority of the games. He died in 2008 at 54.
No. 7 Trent Murphy, Phoenix Brophy Prep, 2009
He is rated by azcentral sports as the second-greatest football player in Brophy history, behind running back Mike Mitchell. Murphy was a long, athletic, tough defensive end who had offensive coordinators game planning against him. He keyed Brophy’s 2007 state championship team. He went on to star at Stanford and became a first-round NFL draft pick by the Washington Redskins in 2014.
No. 8 Everson Griffen, Avondale Agua Fria, 2005
He was one of the highest-rated recruits ever to come out of high school. A freak athlete at Agua Fria, Griffen he was bulldozer running back, as well as a feared pass rusher at defensive end. After a good career at USC, he is now in his eighth NFL season playing for the Minnesota Vikings.
No. 9 Shawn Patterson, Tempe McClintock, 1983
One of the most versatile defensive linemen in state history, Patterson stood out at both tackle and end for the Green Bay Packers after a standout career at Arizona State, where he made All-Pac-10 and was a second-round NFL draft pick. He was the head football coach at Gilbert Christian last season.
No. 10 Devon Kennard, Phoenix Desert Vista, 2009
He was a beast at defensive end in high school, where he had 24 sacks as a junior in 2007, leading the Thunder to the state final. A knee injury wiped out his senior season, but he returned with a vengeance at USC, eventually moving to linebacker, where he took off. He was taken by the New York Giants in the fifth round in 2014.
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