Arizona State senior Samson Szakacsy has decided he will not play football next season at the school and instead plans to graduate in May with a religious studies degree and focus more of his time on other pursuits, including music, which has become a big part of his life.
"It's really nothing to do with walking away from anything," Szakacsy said Tuesday. "It's more like running to something. It's one of those things where I didn't really have to make a decision. It's just things in my life that were happening and that I was finding the most joy in just started to overcome everything else."
Last season, Szakacsy was the third-team quarterback, seeing action in only one game, a blowout loss at Cal in which he played in the second half following an injury to then-starter Steven Threet.
Szakacsy had worked his way into position to fight for the starting job last August after finally overcoming arm troubles that had plagued him almost since his arrival in Tempe.
A last-ditch effort surgical procedure to alleviate elbow pain by providing better flexibility and range of motion in the shoulder joint allowed him to throw the ball much more like the player who arrived at ASU as a highly touted recruit who chose the school over USC out of Camarillo, Calif.
But Szakacsy's unavailability in the spring perhaps put him behind the learning curve with first-year coordinator Noel Mazzone's new offense and it wasn't something that allowed Szakacsy to overtake either Threet or Brock Osweiler.
"I did the best I could last summer and after everything transpired the way it did, not that I was upset or anything, but I had to go a different route and keep myself sane when I was third string," Szakacsy said. "So I'm more ready than ever to take a step forward and grinding and getting into the trenches with people and experience new things and being in the art world and really reflect on everything."
As a sophomore, Szakacsy played in five games, including two starts and despite his arm strength not being near 100 percent had the highest efficiency rating on the team by a wide margin with 32 completions in 50 attempts for 362 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Szakacsy had the shoulder surgery after the season, missed the spring and a crucial opportunity to make a first impression on his new coordinator. In August, he wasn't able to do quite enough to overcome that and by the start of the season was relegated to a reserve role.
"I felt this way at times last season but didn't want to do it during the season because I was in a supportive role which is good and important but I just feel like now's the time for me to just jump into the other things I'm going to be doing, whatever that may be," he said. "I'm not excited about walking away from being a part of the team because I love my teammates and everybody in the organization.
"But it's not like I'm totally leaving. I'm still going to be around and doing a lot of the things I do like the camp at the reservation. I'm just going to be focusing more of my attention on my growth as a person and just reflecting and the art world and I'm really diving into school. I'm still doing a lot of things I really value."
Szakacsy released an album titled "Chasing Truth" late last year and had his first live performance over the holiday break. He's planning a subsequent show in the Phoenix area in late February and has filmed several videos for his music.
"I was up there and just reflecting on things that I hold close to me and people were connecting with it and I really didn't want to leave man, it was awesome," Szakacsy said of the show.