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San Diego State Aztecs head coach Rocky Long hires a defensive coordinator

Rocky Long hands over the keys to the defense.

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Houston vs San Diego State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State Aztecs head coach Rocky Long hires a defensive coordinator for 2017 football season.

Rocky Long has been in charge of the defense since 2009 when he was the defensive coordinator under former head coach Brady Hoke. Rocky Long will be handing the reins to Danny Gonzales who has been coaching Aztec safeties since 2011.

For the last five years as safeties coach, Gonzales has coached up current New York Giant Nat Berhe and 2016 draft stand-out Malik Smith to be top-quality prospects from their program. The last few years has been a breakthrough for the DBs as San Diego State led the nation in interceptions in 2016 (26), and tied for second in 2015 (23). Gonzales has been part of a building program that started under Brady Hoke and continued to shine under Rocky Long.

Gonzales and Long’s history goes back further to their time at New Mexico. Gonzales was a graduate assistant from 1999-2002, then left and came back in 2005-2008 to coach safeties, punters, kickers and deep snappers under then Lobos head coach Rocky Long.

Long had been coaching up and calling the Aztecs defense for almost a decade and this move signals Long’s desire to coach up his staff to take care of the legacy of this dominant defense. Not too many other college programs run 3-3-5, so it’s apparent that Long entrusts the defense to someone who has the history, familiarity, and who’s earned the position in his eyes. Based on facts Gonzales fits that profile to continue Long’s and San Diego State’s legacy.