Arizona State linebacker Kyle Soelle emerges as a leader on defense

Kyle Soelle has been at Arizona State for six seasons now, but he’s always finding ways to invigorate the defense.

Soelle missed his first season in 2017, but has steadily improved with each subsequent season. The Scottsdale Saguaro product recorded 44 games with 18 career starts at ASU over five seasons, but really didn’t see his breakout year until last season. As a redshirt senior, he had a team-high 88 tackles, along with four breakups, two rushes and an interception.

Compared to its start to the season, Soelle is on the right track. In the first two games of last year, Soelle made just eight tackles. In the first two games this season, the fifth-year redshirt linebacker leads the team with 21 tackles and has a pick in the first two games.

“It’s just been fun to watch him from when I got here to now, the person he’s become, the leader he’s become, you know, and he’s ready to come out and he’ll say things when I won’t have to say,” said ASU head coach Herm Edwards.

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Soelle’s importance on defense was evident last week at Oklahoma State.

With 10 tackles in the first half, he was ready for a special game. His 16 tackles against the Cowboys were the most of any player on the field that night and replaced his career high.

“I just play, but I couldn’t do this stuff without my defensive line up front. The linebackers in my line are doing their job and there is a good secondary behind me. It’s a complete defensive effort and we’re ready to do everything we can to get into that win column,” Soelle said.

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ASU linebacker Kyle Soelle (34) tackles Coleman Owen (6) during a game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 1, 2022 in Tempe.

The ASU defense is yet to register a sack against an opponent this season, but Soelle has been credited with putting pressure on OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders.

Soelle also knocked out Sanders for his second straight game with an interception. Soelle and defensive back Chris Edmonds are the only two ASU players with a pick in the first two games.

Along with fellow veterans Merlin Robertson and Connor Soelle, the linebacking squad boasts an experienced starting group, a rarity for the rest of the defense. With the team filled with more new faces than veterans, Soelle has thrived under his leadership position in defense.

“I can just say to him, to some of the other managers, ‘Hey, you have to deal with it’ (and they say), ‘You got it, coach. We’ll deal with it’, and you always feel good when you have players like that in your locker room,” Edwards said.

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Soelle’s experience and proven leadership are the reasons he was selected as one of five captains this season.

With Eastern Michigan (1-1) heading to Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday to wrap up the non-conference roster, ASU isn’t taking its next opponent lightly.

From what Soelle has seen, Eastern Michigan is a “fundamentally sound football team” and will be a good opportunity for ASU.

“Whether you win or lose, you have a new opponent coming. They don’t care what you did last week. The reality is that they are trying to win this week. If that’s not your mindset, you’re not playing the right way. Eastern Michigan doesn’t care what we did last week, they’re trying to win this week,” Soelle said.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-647-4122. Follow her on Twitter @jennarortiz.

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