Twenty-one recruits signed letters of intent with San Diego State on National Signing Day to bring the Aztecs' 2014 recruiting class total to 25.
According to 247sports.com, SDSU recruited the second best class in the Mountain West and the 73rd best nationally. SDSU appeared to have the top recruiting class in the MWC entering National Signing Day, but Boise State picked up two big-time recruits (Scout.com No. 15 tight end Chase Blakley and the Scout.com No. 7 defensive back Dylan Sumner-Gardner) to pull ahead of SDSU.
Coach Rocky Long and company mostly recruited local kids, but also drew some players from around the country. SDSU adds 17 players from California, three from Texas, two from Arizona, one from Georgia, one from Mississippi and one from Nevada.
Here's a closer look at each of the new Aztecs:
OT Alex Anderson (6'5", 290 lbs.) Fr., Saguaro High, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Anderson signed with SDSU over Colorado, Colorado State, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon State and San Jose State. Anderson played both offense and defense in high school, but signs with SDSU as an OT.
Scout.com gave Anderson three stars and ranked him as the No. 90 offensive tackle in the 2014 class. The website also ranked Anderson as the preseason-No. 9 offensive lineman in Arizona. 247sports.com gave Anderson an 83 and rated his size as his best attribute.
When will he play? The Aztecs lose two starting offensive lineman next year-Bryce Quigley and Japheth Gordon. There are a lot of young linemen on SDSU's roster that will fight for those starting sports. Anderson, about the average size of the Aztec linemen, will be in the mix. And especially with how much Long shifted up the line this year, you could definitely see Anderson on the field next year.
LB Devante Davis (6'2", 210 lbs.) Jr., Lincoln High/Tyler College, Dallas, Texas
Davis, committed to Baylor out of high school, chose SDSU over Memphis and Houston Baptist. After a brief transfer from Baylor to Eastern Illinois, Davis moved back to Dallas to play junior college football at Tyler College in 2013. In his one year at Tyler College, Davis recorded 58 tackles. Coming out of high school, Davis was an all-District selection and one of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's top 20 linebackers. Scout.com gave him two stars and 247sports.com gave him a 78.
When will he play? The Aztecs bring back a lot of linebackers-including Jake Fely and Josh Gavert. Davis won't play next year, but will definitely learn from a couple pretty darn good college linebackers. Perhaps he'll redshirt.
DT Christian Heyward (6'3", 300 lbs.) Jr., Point Loma High/USC, San Diego, Calif.
The Aztecs expected Heyward would sign with them in 2011. Heyward surprised a lot of San Diegans, though, and committed to USC. Arkansas, Miami, Oklahoma State, and Oregon also expressed interest in Heyward out of high school. Scout.com gave him four stars and Rivals.com ranked him No. 94. He also played on three prep All-America teams: SuperPrep, PrepStar and Under Armour with Jadeveon Clowney. Unfortunately Heyward needed shoulder surgery in 2011 and only played five games as a redshirt freshman in 2012. After the 2012 season, Heyward left USC and enrolled at Grossmont College. He will be eligible to play for the Aztecs in 2014. Heyward has gained weight since he graduated high school-he's now SDSU's biggest lineman.
When will he play? SDSU's defensive line performed pretty well last year, sacking the opponent 26 times for 180 yards in the regular season. That unit only loses one player, Jordan Thomas. Nonetheless, Heyward WILL get playing time. This guy has a lot of talent, and as I said earlier, he is the biggest defensive lineman on the roster. Barring a huge disappointment, Heyward will most likely start and produce immediately for the Aztecs.
LB Jay Henderson (6'2", 205 lbs.) Fr., Serrano High, Phelan, Calif.
Henderson picked SDSU over Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State and Nevada. In his senior year at Serrano High, Henderson recorded 57 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two blocked punts and six forced fumbles. Henderson played both on offense and defense in high school, but signed with SDSU as a linebacker. His athleticism and reactive quickness are his two greatest strengths, according to 247sports.com. ESPN's scouting report notices Henderson's athleticism (he ran a 4.93 40-yard dash) keen defensive instincts. With some strength and conditioning, the ESPN scout believes Henderson can compete at the college level-especially on special teams.
Scout.com gave him three stars and 247sports.com gave him an 83. Scout.com also ranked Henderson as the No. 119 outside linebacker in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Henderson falls in the same category as fellow linebacker Davis: he'll learn next year and won't get much playing time, if any at all. But like Davis, Henderson has undeniable talent and will eventually play a lot in red and black. SDSU could possibly redshirt Henderson-that wouldn't be a bad idea.
K John Baron II (5'11", 175 lbs.) Fr., Chaparral High, Temecula, Calif.
SDSU beat out Colorado to get Baron II. The ESPN scouting report gushes about this kid's leg, reporting that he has the country's strongest kickoff leg. Baron II's accuracy, however, needs improvement, according to the report. Good news for the Aztecs: he's only been kicking for a year and has a lot of room to grow.
Scout.com gave Baron II two stars and 247sports.com gave him a 71.
When will he play? Oh boy. Kicking absolutely plagued SDSU last year. Aztec kickers missed six point-after-attempts and missed half their field goals, including a potential game-winner against Fresno State that would have changed the complexion of the MWC. Coach Long says that there will be a lot of competition at the kicker position before next season. With his boot, Baron II will have as good a chance as anybody to get the starting spot.
OL Joe Salcedo (6'7", 280 lbs.) Fr., Bishop Diego High, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Salcedo picked SDSU's offer over Cal Poly's, Nevada's and UNLV's. He also received interest from Arizona, Boise State, California, Fresno State, Utah, Washington and Washington State. Salcedo, a scholar athlete in high school, lettered three times and earned all-county and all-state honors his senior year. He also lettered in basketball-no wonder his vertical is 26 inches. I repeat: this lineman can jump over two feet in the air. Scout.com gave Salcedo two stars and 247sports.com gave him a 70.
When will he play? Salcedo is very tall and athletic for an offensive lineman-but that doesn't necessarily guarantee his success. He needs some time to develop into a college offensive lineman. I don't see Salcedo playing this year.
K Donny Hageman (6'1", 170 lbs.) Jr., Damien High/Mt. Saint Antonio College, Covina, Calif.
Hageman chose SDSU over Indiana State, but also drew interest from New Mexico, Temple, Washington State and Washington. Hageman made 19 of 20 field goal attempts and tallied 111 total points in his sophomore year at Mt. SAC. He also punted for Mt. SAC, pinning the opponent within their 20-yard line 12 times. Hageman competed in track and field at Mt. SAC, as well. He earned two stars from Rivals.com.
When will he play? Open competition at kicker-we'll see what happens.
QB Christian Chapman (6'0", 180 lbs.) Fr., Carlsbad High, Carlsbad, Calif.
Chapman chose SDSU over Arkansas State, Brigham Young, Colorado State, Southern Methodist and Washington State. He definitely impressed San Diego high school football fans-hint, hint: SDSU coaches-during his junior and senior campaigns: he passed for 3,885 yards and 41 touchdowns. The ESPN scouting report says that Chapman is a solid pocket quarterback who uses his feet to buy time in the pocket and extend plays. The ESPN scout likes his delivery speed and believes he's ideal for a spread offense. The scout also says that Chapman's size may hold him back from competing at the elite level in college, however.
His performance in high school earned him three stars from Scout.com and a 76 from 247sports.com. Scout.com also ranked him as the No. 73 quarterback in the 2014 class.
When will he play? I strongly encourage redshirting here. Chapman's a great talent and could develop into a Johnny Manziel-esque college quarterback. But I doubt he would play over fellow freshman quarterback Nick Bawden, and neither of them will play until Quinn Kaehler graduates next year. I see Bawden starting next year. If Chapman redshirts he will have the opportunity to start as redshirt senior. Looking at it another way, redshirting would provide Chapman an opportunity to focus purely on practice for a year and gear up to challenge Bawden, or even Odeman, for the starting spot.
DE Noble Hall (6'3", 230 lbs.) Fr., Valley High, Las Vegas, Nev.
Hall signed with SDSU over Army, Idaho and Northern Arizona. Hall was a three-time letterwinner in football and basketball in high school. The ESPN scouting report commends Hall's raw athleticism and talent. It reports that Hall's speed off the edge and dogged pursuit of the ball will serve him well in college. He still needs to refine his skills and build his strength, though; the ESPN scout believes redshirting would benefit Hall. Scout.com gave his two stars and 247sports.com gave him an 81 as a tight end.
When will he play? Hall should redshirt-he's a very raw talent. The Aztecs don't have a dire need on the defensive line. Redshirting would make Hall's college career so much more successful and worthwhile.
ATH Fred Trevillion (6'2", 190 lbs.) Fr., Brookhaven High, Brookhaven, Miss.
Trevillion earned two all-state selections and three all-region selections at Brookhaven High. He caught 42 passes for 824 yards and seven touchdowns his senior year. A true athlete, Trevillion also played quarterback, punted and played special teams-he was also a three-time letter winner in basketball. Trevillion chose to move to SDSU instead of staying local and signing with Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech all expressed interest, too. He earned two stars from Scout.com.
When will he play? I'm not sure where Trevillion fits into the roster. He's obviously talented, but I think Trevillion will probably grow and develop for a year or two before seeing significant minutes.
WR Jabril Clewis (6'2", 200 lbs.) Fr., Patrick Henry High, San Diego, Calif.
Clewis chose to sign with SDSU-about 15 minutes from Patrick Henry High. He also received offers from Utah, Nevada and UNLV. A three-year letter winner and first-team all-City League selection, Clewis caught 54 passes for 725 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior. The ESPN scouting report says that Clewis has good ball skill and speed-he ran a 4.76 40-yard dash. He's also quite skilled in the open field; the scouts think he'd be a successful kick returner. With a 31.8-inch vertical, Clewis can jump high enough to beat most defensive backs he'll face, according to the ESPN scout. The scout thinks experience will help Clewis the most. Clewis received two stars from Scout.com and an 84 from 247sports.com.
When will he play? The Aztecs will lose three key wide receivers from this year (Colin Lockett, Tim Vizzi, Dylan Denso). Young players like Eric Judge will fill some of those roles. However, SDSU recruited very well this year with receivers. Clewis and the rest of the receiver recruits will compete hard for those rotation spots. If I had to bet, I'd say returning receivers will win those spots over the new receivers.
ATH Kameron Kelly (6'2", 190 lbs.) Fr., Wylie High, Murphy, Texas
ESPN calls Kelly a "dual-threat quarterback." This guy is a threat all over the field. As this year's 4A Region II District 13 Player of the Year, Kelly threw for 841 yards and five touchdowns, rushed for 568 yards and 13 touchdowns, and caught 59 passes for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. If that wasn't enough, Kelly also picked the ball off seven times.
Oh yeah-and he lettered in basketball and track and field, too. Kelly also received offers from Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Florida A&M, Grambling State, Houston Baptist, Kent State, Lamar, Louisiana-Monroe, Navy, Northern Colorado, Prairie View A&M, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas Southern and Texas Tech. Kelly garnered three stars from Scout.com and a 75 from 247sports.com. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 123 safety in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Special teams, special teams, special teams. Get this guy on the field. He isn't going to play quarterback and most likely won't play wide receiver or running back. But he's shown very clearly that he's a dynamic force on the football field. He could definitely help a lackluster SDSU special teams unit.
ATH Dionte Sykes (6'2", 215 lbs.) Fr., Chandler High, Phoenix, Ariz.
Sykes originally committed to UCLA, but decommitted on November 27, 2013. A four-time letter winner at Chandler High, Sykes set team records for the most touchdown catches and receptions during his senior campaign. He also recorded two sacks. The ESPN scouting report praises Sykes' hands and size-he's great at snatching balls away from defenders. The ESPN scout believes he must work on creating separation, but that his acrobatic body control and leaping abilities will make him a red zone threat.
Scout.com gave Sykes two stars and 247sports.com gave him an 87. There's some disagreement about where Sykes ranks: Scout.com ranked him as the No. 211 wide receiver in the 2014 class, but ESPN ranked him as the No. 76 wide receiver in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Of all the receiver recruits, I'd give Sykes the best chance to get some playing time. SDSU only scored touchdowns on 60% of its red-zone possessions, opposed to their opponents 86 percent. As the ESPN scout said, Sykes seems to have the skills of a red-zone specialist, and SDSU sure wasn't very good in the red-zone this year. He just might get some playing time.
OL Caleb Brady (6'5", 310 lbs.) Jr., Brewer High/Tyler College, Fort Worth, Texas
Brady, teammates with fellow Aztec recruit Devante Davis, earned first-team all-conference honors at Tyler College. He lettered in football and track and field at Brewer High. Brady turned down offers from Arkansas State, Colorado State, Houston Baptist, Howard, Southern Miss and Texas State.
Scout.com gave him two stars and 247sports.com gave him a 77. 247sports also ranked him as the No. 33 offensive tackle in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Coach Long said SDSU recruited a lot of junior college transfers because of their experience. Long loves experience (and I don't blame him). Brady's size is pretty similar to the current SDSU offensive linemen, but he has more playing experience than six of them. Brady, therefore, has a better chance to fill one of the two holes in the lineup than the freshman recruits.
DB Devaughn Murray (6'0", 175 lbs.) Fr., Mount Miguel High, San Diego, Calif.
The 2013 Grossmont Valley League Defensive Player of the Year, Murray recorded 66 tackles, six passes defended, six interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery his senior year. He also produced offensively, rushing for 374 yards and four touchdowns. He selected SDSU over Colorado State, Northern Arizona, Oregon State, UNLV and Utah State. Oregon, UCLA and USC also expressed interest in Murray. Murray earned two stars from Scout.com and a 70 from 247sports.com.
When will he play? Nat Berhe, Eric Pinkins and Rene Siluano will all be gone next year. But King Holder, J.J. Whitaker and Damontae Kazee will be back. So do the Aztecs need defensive backs? Of course, it's always a good idea to have a lot of defensive backs on your roster. But I don't think any of the new defensive backs will see significant playing time until next year or the year after.
RB Rashaad Penny (5'11", 200 lbs.) Fr., Norwalk High, Norwalk, Calif.
Penny chose SDSU over Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State. He also garnered interest from Alabama, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee, UCLA, Utah and Washington. Penny's stats are quite impressive: he rushed 216 times for 2,504 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior. He also caught 21 passes for 665 yards and 10 touchdowns.
This first-team all-state member also recorded 68 tackles during his senior year. The ESPN scouting report commends Penny's speed-he ran a 4.68 40-yard dash-but the ESPN scout doesn't think that's his biggest strength. The scout is much more impressed by his strength and great hands. The scout doesn't see Penny pulling off huge plays in college, but believe he'll be a dependable back. Penny received three stars from Scout.com and an 84 from 247sports.com. Scouts.com also ranked him as the No. 42 running back in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Every running back on the SDSU roster will return except NFL-hopeful Adam Muema. The Aztecs don't need another speedster-they have that in Donnel Pumphrey. The Aztecs DO need another Muema/tank/bulldozer/"I'm going to run you over" running back to offset Pumphrey's running style. Dwayne Garrett and Chase Price could potentially fill this role, but I'd give Penny a good chance. His accolades are beyond impressive and he runs in a style very similar to the Aztecs' need. Don't be surprised if you hear his name called at some point this year.
WR Mikah Holder (6'0", 175 lbs.) Fr., Oceanside High, Oceanside, Calif.
Holder chose to play alongside his brother, King Holder, at SDSU over Arizona, Brigham Young, Idaho, Nevada, San Jose State, Utah and Yale. As a senior at Oceanside High, Holder caught 41 passes for 1,229 yards and 11 touchdowns. He demonstrated his athleticism by also recording 29 tackles and defending a pass on defense. He ran a 4.77 40-yard dash and has 32.4-inch vertical. The ESPN scouting report states that Holder is super quick, but he needs to gain strength to break tackles. The ESPN scout commends Holder's route running and his ability to gain separation. The scout believes that, with the ability to separate, good in the air skills and good hands, Holder will make big plays at the next level.
Scout.com gave Holder three stars and 247sports.com gave him an 87. Scout.com also ranked Holder as the No. 85 wide receiver in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Holder is in the same position as Clewis: he'll fight for a spot, but he's less likely to get one than Sykes.
RB William Walker (5'10", 190 lbs.) Fr., Citrus Hill High, Perris, Calif.
Walker picked SDSU over Boise State and UNLV. He also received interest from Alabama, Arizona, Colorado State, Fresno State, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon State and Washington. He rushed for 1,774 yards and 30 touchdowns in his senior year of high school. The ESPN scouting report identifies Walker as a patient runner with good vision and above average speed. He won't blow you away with speed, but he stays low to the ground and breaks a lot of tackles, according to the ESPN scout. The scout also says that Walker's hands make him a receiving threat out of the backfield.
Scout.com gave Walker two stars and 247sports.com gave him an 88. Opinions vary on where Walker ranks among the 2014 running backs: Scout.com ranked him No. 129 in the 2014 class and 247sports.com ranked him No. 59 in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Walker and fellow running back Penny are in almost the exact same situation: they both run similar to Muema-the exact type of running back SDSU needs. But they'll both have to beat out Price and Garrett to get that role. I'd give Penny a better chance as of right now because he's bigger than Walker. But it's a wonder what a summer in the gym can do...
RB Daryl Dunlap (6'2", 220 lbs.) Fr., Troup High, La Grange, Ga.
Dunlap proved he could play many different positions in high school; he played quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, linebacker and defensive end. However, he primarily played running back. This four-year letter winner was also a basketball and track-and-field star.
Dunlap received three stars from Scout.com and an 82 from 247sports.com. 247sports.com identified frame, athleticism and play in space as Dunlap's greatest strengths.
When will he play? Dunlap is in the same situation as Walker and Penny. I'd give the edge to Walker and Penny just because they were more pure running backs in high school.
LB Donavin Buck (6'5", 205 lbs.) Fr., Brawley Union High, Brawley, Calif.
Buck signed with SDSU over Arizona, Boise State, Colorado State, Oregon State, Rutgers, San Jose State, Southern Methodist, UNLV and Washington State. A four-year letter winner, Buck was named the Imperial Valley League Defensive Player of the Year his senior year. He also was both an offensive and defensive all-Imperial Valley League player. As a senior, Buck recorded 86 tackles, 7.5 sacks, nine passes defended, one blocked punt, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery on defense. On offense he caught 20 passes for 412 yards a four touchdowns. The ESPN scouting report commends Buck's athleticism and his ability to fight through the offense to attack the ball carrier. The ESPN scout believes Buck is a strong finisher and just needs to grow physically and polish his skills to compete at a high level.
Scout.com gave Buck three stars and 247sports.com gave him the highest score of any SDSU recruit, 90. Scout.com also ranked him as the No. 85 outside linebacker in the 2014 class.
When will he play? Buck won't start next year. Unlike Davis and Henderson, though, Buck should not redshirt. If Fely or Gavert gets injured, SDSU will want to be able to play Buck. His accomplishments speak for themselves and Aztec fans should be excited to see him play.
DB Davontae Merriweather (6'1", 200 lbs.) Jr., Highland High/Saddleback College, Palmdale, Calif.
A Southern Conference National Division first-team selection as a cornerback at Saddleback College, Merriweather picked SDSU over Utah and UNLV. Northern Colorado and Utah State also expressed interest. Merriweather recorded 55 tackles and seven interceptions in his sophomore year in junior college.
JCGridiron.com ranked Merriweather as the No. 21 junior college cornerback in the country. Back in high school, Merriweather also was a first-team all-conference shot put selection. Scout.com gave Merriweather two stars and 247sports.com gave him a 70.
When will he play? Coach Long recruited Merriweather for his experience, but I don't think Merriweather will beat out the current defensive backs for playing time.
These next four players are already enrolled at SDSU.
QB Nick Bawden (6'3", 225 lbs.) Fr., Los Gatos High, Los Gatos, Calif.
In January Bawden chose to enroll in SDSU over Eastern Washington. He also drew interest from Arkansas, California, Fresno State, Harvard, San Jose State, Utah and Washington. Bawden's senior year stats aren't eye-popping: 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns. But the ESPN scout who wrote the report absolutely raves about this guy. I honestly tried to find a negative comment on the scouting report: I could only find a comment about Bawden dipping the ball during his release. The scout believes that Bawden has the size and skills to be a good pocket quarterback in college. The scout commends Bawden's mobility, arm strength and his consistent accuracy.
Bawden garnered three stars from Scout.com and an 82 from 247sports.com. Scout.com also ranked him as No.10 in the "West: Preseason Top Ten Quarterbacks" rankings.
When will he play? As I said earlier, I think Bawden will start next year. He has the size, the mobility, the accuracy and the arm strength to be a successful college pocket quarterback. Bawden won't see a minute of playing time this year, but I think he'll see a bunch next year.
DB Na'Im McGee (6'0", 200 lbs.) So., St. Mary's High/Diablo Valley College, Oakland, Calif.
McGee enrolled at SDSU in January over Nevada, San Jose State and Wyoming. In his one year at Diablo Valley College-the alma mater of SDSU starting QB Quinn Kaehler-McGee recorded 32 tackles, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and three interceptions. McGee's 134 tackles in 2011 ranked 8th in the nation among free-safeties. After his great high school career at St. Mary's, McGee was inducted into the Stockton Athletic Hall of Fame. 247sports.com gave McGee two stars and a 77.
When will he play? Just like the other new defensive backs, McGee probably won't play much this year. Fortunately, McGee is a sophomore; he has time.
QB Brad Odeman (6'3", 220 lbs.) Jr., Appleton North High/Ventura College, Napa, Calif.
Odeman enrolled at SDSU in January over Northern Colorado. He also received interest from Georgia State, San Jose State, Toledo, UNLV and Utah State. In his two years at Ventura College, Odeman won the Northern Conference Player of the Week honor five times. As a sophomore, Odeman completed 293 passes for 3,293 yards and 28 touchdowns; he threw five touchdowns on four separate occasions during the season. Odeman earned two stars from Scout.com and a 79 from 247sports.com.
When will he play? SDSU had a great experience with a junior college transfer quarterback: Quinn Kaehler. Odeman won't play this year, but he'll challenge Bawden for the starting job next year. He and Bawden are similar size-wise, so it'll be interesting to see them play side-by-side on the practice field.
OL Pearce Slater (6'7", 340 lbs.) Jr., Taft High/El Camino College, Los Angeles, Calif.
Slater enrolled at SDSU in January over Akron, Illinois, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee and Utah. He played both offense and defense in junior college. In his second year at El Camino College, his offense gained 103.1 more yards per game than the year before. Slater had committed to Kansas in July 2013 but left the team the following month due to a medical family emergency. He then enrolled at El Camino College again.
Scout.com gave Slater three stars and 247sports.com gave him 70. 247sports.com also ranked him as the No. 31 offensive tackle in the 2014 class.
When will he play? I think Slater will play a lot next year. He has tremendous size and experience at the college level. He's transferring to SDSU from junior college instead of playing at Kansas due of events out of his control. You'll see Slater at Qualcomm Stadium next year and I think he'll do a lot to improve SDSU's offensive line.
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