Dashaun Mallory has been a massive bright spot for Arizona State this season.

Only two interior defensive linemen in the Pac-12 have played more snaps than Mallory through eight weeks. (And one of those players has appeared in eight games to Mallory’s seven.) Among qualified interior linemen, Mallory has one of the best overall grades from Pro Football Focus.

Last week, in Arizona State’s narrow defeat at Washington, Mallory was the highest-graded defender in the conference.

ASU’s defense just keeps improving each week, and Mallory is a big reason why. Despite a difficult season on the whole, Mallory seems to be loving his first season in Tempe.

“From where I was years ago.. to escape that coffin and flourish in a new environment.. beyond blessed for ASU bringing me in and letting me be me,” he said in a post on social media Friday morning. “I’m forever thankful, playing from the heart because you gave me a chance.”

Mallory is in his first and last season with ASU. He was a transfer portal add for coach Kenny Dillingham this offseason to fill a major need along the defensive line and the fit has been seamless.

The Bolingbrook, Illinois, native spent his first five years of college ball with Michigan State. He redshirted his first year, then appeared in two games in 2019. Over the next three years, Mallory played in 25 games, but he played sparingly on defense.

Arizona State has turned him loose, and the results have been glowing.

Mallory is sixth on the team in tackles (27) while also leading the defense with eight tackles for loss. He also has two pass breakups and 1.5 sacks.