Welcome to the seventh piece in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. The aim of these articles is to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured, in order of where they fall in their current MWCConnection ranking. Today looks at San Diego State.
San Diego State:
7th in MWConnection Recruiting Rankings.
This was not a typical Aztec season. The first half they resembled themselves: a big run game a a stout defense. However, they lost their quarterback and running back to injuries and though they endured the damage for a few weeks, things caught up with them the second half of the season and lost to UNLV, Fresno State, and Hawaii at the end of the season. They still made a bowl, but got shut out of that game and appeared overall disinterested. SDSU runs a traditional pro-style offense complete with a full-back (think Wyoming) and a 3-3-5 defense (like Nevada). Here’s a quick recap of the two:
The offense features two WRs, a TE, a RB, and a FB. The TE in an offense like this should be very balanced, as there is a strong emphasis on the power-run game. Blocking is a must and as a receiver, the scheme doesn’t necessarily call for a a deep-threat in the passing game, more short routes and dump offs. The running-back would arguably be the most important player in an offense like this, as they lean on the run game considerably, both between and outside the tackles. Their QB does just enough to keep them off balance from fully selling out on the run game.
This defense puts an emphasis on speed over size. One of the keys here would be the front three stopping the run, to allow the remaining players to make plays all over the field. The 3 LBs more or less have the same assignments they would in a 4-3 defense, although with more blitzing responsibilities. The 5 defensive backs can match up well in coverage against spread teams. Specifically the 5th DB (Aztec is the term they use) can function a bit like a SLB, and is often the defenses’ best playmaker; able to blitz, stop the run, cover a TE or slot WR, or whatever else is needed.
The Road So Far:
San Diego State was able to secure fourteen signees back on the 19th. Per usual, it’s full of athletes who may not look like stars now, but will fit their system perfectly and will become very good players for them. It’s evenly split right now with seven on each side of the ball. To the surprise of no one, the vast majority of their recruits come from California. Nine are in-state pick ups, with the other five coming from Texas and Arizona, with two each, and one from the state of Washington.
On the offensive side of the ball, they got their feature back of the future in Justin Dinka. He may need a year or two to be fully ready but he was highly recruited and is highly ranked. He will be complemented by quarterback Joe Green. Tight end Anthony Landphere is huge at 6’5 and figures to make a difference in both the passing and running game. The Aztecs also picked up four offensive linemen. Grad transfer Jacob Capra will play immediately and his brother Joey from high school is a fantastic pick up. They are joined by two players with a lot of height but who also need to fill out a bit in Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson and Kyle Trombley.
Shifting over to defense, they brought in two defensive linemen thus far. Daniel To’oto’o was announced as a DL but was classified as an athlete on recruiting sites, so he may need some time to learn the ropes of the position. Joining him is Shawn Nielsen, who comes from a prominent California program and Nassir Sims, both of which project well. Linebacker has a similar make up with Michael Shawcroft as someone who can come in and find a role sooner rather than later and Garrett Fountain who has great size to play a big role in their system down the line but may need time to develop. Defensive back features a duo of players and the headliner has a familiar name. Brionne Penny is the younger brother of the former star running back and he will distinguish himself in the secondary. He’s joined by another talented DB, Kyron White.
Number who signed in December: 14
Number who will enroll early: None known
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: WR, DB
In classic San Diego State form, they acquired more athletic players who can plug into their system. However, you may notice their were a few spots that could still use some additions. Finding a wide receiver or two, in a run heavy offense, will help boost the class a bit. Adding at least another defensive back and perhaps another linebacker is big for a defensive that has a base scheme of 3-3-5.
Expect them to hand out a few more offers if they don’t already have their eye on the type of players mentioned above. Only focusing on a few players or positions will allow the coaching staff to devote more attention filling their needs rather than the wide base they were casting in the months prior.
If all goes well, the Aztecs could move back up into the top half of the conference in recruiting. Although that could be tough with so many other teams doing well, but they certainly have the core of their class and it is quite talented.
Coming Monday: San Jose State