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San Diego State Football: Early look at the Aztecs' 2015 roster

It's never too early to take a look at the Aztecs roster heading into next season.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State's football team has yet to begin spring practices, but it's never too early to take a look at how the team is shaking up heading into the season.

After a season like the Aztecs had last year, they have a lot to look forward to thanks to depth and talent at critical positions.

They will also be playing with a new offensive coordinator next season, Jeff Horton, and it is remained to be seen how he will run the offense.

Let's take a position by position look and see how the Aztecs are looking heading into 2015.


It's a little alarming looking at the lack of experience within SDSU's potential signal callers, but most would welcome a new face after the struggles Quinn Kaehler displayed last year.

The candidate with the most collegiate experience goes to senior Maxwell Smith who signed with SDSU after transferring from Kentucky earlier this January.

Also in the mix will be sophomore Nick Bawden who started two games last season, but struggled mightily, and sophomore Jake Rodrigues, who transferred from Oregon after coming out as a four-star recruit from high school.

Not to be forgotten are sophomore Christian Chapman, SDSU's possible "quarterback of the future" freshman Ryan Agnew, who is a three-star recruit out of Texas, and recent Diablo Valley College transfer Adam Wood. DVC is the junior college Quinn Kaehler came from, and Wood's sophomore-year numbers look just as good as Kaehler's did: 235-390 for 3,054 yards and 28 touchdowns.

While it looks like it will be a four-horse race between Rodrigues, Smith, Wood and Bawden, don't count out Chapman or Agnew.

Running back

There's no secret that the Aztecs make a living running the ball, and lucky for them Donnel Pumphrey -- the No. 3 rusher in the nation -- will be back for his junior season.

Pumphrey's contributions next season will not come as much of a surprise, but more good news is that Pumphrey's backup, senior Chase Price, will also be returning.

Price was a solid complementary to Pumphrey last season with 605 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

Another player to watch next season will be sophomore Rashad Penny.

As a freshman Penny showed great explosiveness returning kickoffs, and may be in line to see more action with the offense.

Lead-blocking for the running backs will be senior Dakota Gordon, a big back who showed promise last season and can take short yardage carries.

Wide receiver

What the Aztecs lack in a for sure No. 1 at the wide receiver spot with the departure of Ezell Ruffin. But they might make up for that with depth of veteran talent.

Headlining the receiving corps will be juniors Eric Judge and Lloyd Mills, joined by senior Larry Clark.

At 6-foot-4, Clark has the ideal size to be a No. 1 receiver, but he will need the compliment of Mills' speed and Judge's big-play ability (led the team 19.1 yards per catch last season).

Also there to help out will be sophomore's Mikah Holder and Chase Favreau, along with senior Jemond Hazely, who  all saw limited action last season.

Tight end

Kaehler did not utilize his tight ends very often last season.

In fact, if you discount Adam Roberts, who was technically the starting fullback, the leading receiver for tight ends last year was junior Daniel Brunskill who had just five catches and one touchdown.

With a team that runs the ball as much as SDSU, it's not surprising that tight ends are asked to block more often than going out for passes.

Competing with Brunskill for reps at tight end next season will be redshirt-sophomore David Wells and senior Robert Craighead.


The offensive line may be SDSU's greatest asset for next season.

While they will be without left tackle Terry Poole, they return the other four starters from last season.

Those players include junior guard Nico Siragusa, senior tackle Pearce Slater, senior guard Darrell Greene and redshirt-senior center Lenicio Noble.

It's conceivable that Rocky Long and Horton may elect to move Slater to left tackle, and slide in Poole's replacement at right tackle.

At 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, junior tackle Kwayde Miller could be a fit to take over, along with senior Paul Rodriguez.

Either way, the offensive line should be strength for the Aztecs next season.


If Long decided to stick with the 3-3-5 defensive formation next season, then SDSU could potentially have a defensive line of junior's Alex Barrett and Jon Sanchez, along with senior Christian Heyward, if they are able to rotate either Heyward or Barrett to the outside.

Barrett and Sanchez came on strong during their sophomore campaigns and combined for 69 total tackles, 5.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss.

In 10 games last season Heyward had four tackles for a loss and two sacks, while showing great potential at times.

Backing up on the defensive line will be sophomore Sergio Phillips and redshirt-sophomore Dakota Turner.

Turner recorded two sacks last season, while Phillips saw limited action in just six games.


SDSU's linebacking corps is getting gutted with the losses of Josh Gavert, Cody Galea and Derek Largent, but the amount of talent returning may be able to make up for that.

First on that list is junior Calvin Munson who led the defense in sacks, interceptions, tackles for a loss and tied for the lead in tackles with Gavert,

Alongside Munson to plug up the middle will be former SDSU Defensive Player of the Year senior Jake Fely, who is recovering from a dislocated wrist he suffered against Boise State last season.

Who will join Fely and Munson remains a question.

Candidates include junior Micah Seau and redshirt-sophomore Fred Melifonwu.


What was considered a weakness heading into last season looks to be a strength going into 2015.

All five players starting in the SDSU secondary will be returning next season.

That list includes cornerbacks senior J.J. Whittaker and junior Damontae Kazee, along with safeties redshirt-sophomore Trey Lomax, junior Malik Smith and junior Na'im McGee.

Lomax was third on the team with 68 tackles last season, and Whittaker and McGee were not far behind with 63.

Smith led the secondary with three interceptions.

Providing depth in the secondary will be redshirt-sophomore Billy Vaughn Jr., junior Brandon Porter and redshirt-sophomore Fred Trevillion.

Special teams

Good news for the Aztecs is that senior Donny Hageman will be back to kick field goals next season, and he excelled in 2014, making 17-21.

The punting situation is a question mark minus Joel Alesi, but the logical replacement would be redshirt-sophomore John McGroy.

As for the return game, expect Penny to be the main man for kickoffs and Mills for punt returns.