The Aztecs held a vote this Friday to select their team captains for the year. On the offensive side, left tackle Terry Poole and wide receiver Ezell Ruffin were nominated, along with defensive end Sam Meredith and J.J. Whitaker representing the defense.
As they enter the final season of their respective SDSU careers, these seniors will be demanding the most out of their peers on the gridiron as they fight for the conference title. Here's a look at what makes each captain a qualified leader:
WR Ezell Ruffin
Named to the Biletnikoff Award pre-season watch list, and a late addition to the list last year, Ezell Ruffin is your typical "lead by example" wide out. As the only member of the receiving group with any considerable experience, Ruffin will be handed the task of mentoring the guys that will fill his void in 2015.
The soft spoken, sure handed reciever posted 1,136 receiving yards with three touchdowns to lead the Aztecs in 2013. With a much improved Quinn Kaehler back behind center, Ruffin hopes to achieve personal goals of 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2014.
"We're coming." - Ezell Ruffin
LT Terry Poole
Terry Poole is one of the few players that Rocky Long has tabbed as a future NFL player. After starting all 12 games last season at right tackle, Poole will move his 6'5" 310 pound frame to the left side of the line, protecting Kaehler's blind side. Poole, who was an All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention player last year, will be looking to make sure they don't leave him off of the first team in 2014.
Poole talks about the anticipation for this season and media expectations:
CB J.J. Whitaker
In 2010, J.J. Whitaker redshirted after tearing his ACL prior to the start of fall camp. In 2011, Whitaker missed the whole season after another knee injury. In the Aztecs' 2012 Red & Black scrimmage, Whitaker was sidelined for the season once again after breaking his scapula.
Perseverance and determination saw Whitaker starting at left corner back at the start of 2013. Starting all 13 games, Whitaker totaled 32 tackles, 11 pass break-ups, three interceptions, and a forced fumble. His play earned him a first team All-Mountain West honorable mention. Brimming with confidence headed into his final season, Whitaker is just the guy you'd want leading an inexperienced secondary.
Whitaker shares his season expectations during his @GoAztecs twitter takeover:
DE Sam Meredith
Sam Meredith was late to join his teammates in fall camp after dealing with the tragic loss of his father. The Aztecs' defense was stifling in 2013, ranking 24th in the nation in run-defense. With an inexperienced secondary and an injury riddled linebacker group, Meredith and the defensive line will be picking up some slack in the early parts of the season. Rallying behind their captain, the defensive line will be working even harder to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks so that they don't take advantage of the secondary.
** Videos courtesy of GoAztecs.com