Sun Devil Football associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Antonio Pierce will also serve as co-defensive coordinator for the 2020 campaign, as announced by head coach Herm Edwards.
In 2008, Pierce hosted a free football camp for youth at the Berkeley Institute School Field.
Pierce – a Super Bowl-winning linebacker with a decade of playing experience in the NFL - was recently promoted to associate head coach after spending his first two seasons in Tempe as the program's linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator. He will retain his title as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.
"Pierce has established himself as one of the elite recruiters in the nation and is one of the brightest up-and-coming coaches around," Edwards said. "His impact with the linebackers and with the Sun Devil program in just two seasons has been tangible and he has been a pivotal part in our defensive success since his arrival in Tempe."
A former Pro Bowl linebacker in the NFL, Antonio Pierce has played a pivotal role in the improvement on defense in the last two seasons while helping the Sun Devils to new heights in the recruiting world.
The Sun Devils have given up just two plays over 50 yards this season, tied for the fifth-fewest nationally. ASU was also tied for 9th nationally in allowing just 3 plays of over 50 yards last year after sitting in the bottom 10 nationally in the previous four years. ASU's eight plays allowed over 40 yards this season are 14th nationally. In 2018, ASU was tied for 11th nationally in allowing just 8 plays over 40 yards, an area the Devils had struggled in in previous seasons (allowing 20, 16, 30, 21 in the previous four seasons and finishing 103rd, 79th, 128th, 110th, respectively).
Pierce linebackers were key in the Sun Devils staunch run defense in 2019. ASU ranked 21st nationally in allowing just 116.8 rushing yards per game – the best ranking at the end of the regular season for ASU since the 2009 Sun Devils were 19th (108.58 rushing yards per game). ASU has allowed 155 or fewer rushing yards in 11 of 12 games this season, the first time in program history to accomplish the feat since regular seasons expanded to 12 games in the late 1990s.
Under Pierce's guidance, Darien Butler was named the first true sophomore team captain in program history for the 2019 campaign. Butler would go on to be the seventh-highest graded linebacker in the Pac-12 on run defense, according to Pro Football Focus, while his 18 total quarterback pressures were tied for eighth among the league's linebacker.
Butler finished with 79 tackles on the season, leading the team in the category and adding five tackles for loss, leading the team with three forced fumbles and a sack and a fumble recovery.
Following the 2018 season and with one full year under his belt, Pierce helped put together the nation's No. 28 signing class for 2019, according to 247Sports' Composite Rankings – the fifth highest-graded class in the Pac-12. Despite being just weeks on the job in the year prior, Pierce helped rally the 2018 Signing Class to 36th nationally and kept the Sun Devils in the top half of the Pac-12 recruiting rankings. The 2020 Signing Class, which is still in program, figures to feature more four-star signees than any class in Sun Devil Football history.
During his nine-year NFL career, Pierce played 137 regular-season games (and seven playoff games) with the Washington Redskins (2001-04) and New York Giants (2005-09). Pierce captained the Giants' defense for five seasons, including 2007 when he helped anchor the championship team that upset the previously undefeated New England Patriots for a victory in Super Bowl XLII. He was also named to the Pro Bowl that season.
Signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2001, Pierce finished his career with 687 tackles, nine sacks, and seven interceptions