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2019 Recruiting Breakdown: San Diego State

The Aztecs bring in their usual batch of athletes. Is that a good or bad thing?

NCAA Football: Frisco Bowl-Ohio vs San Diego State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the sixth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #6 team in our rankings, San Diego State.

San Diego State constantly brings in above average recruiting classes as far as the Mountain West Conference goes. They focus on athletes who fit their offensive and defensive systems well and in many ways, that transcends traditional team recruiting rankings. Additionally, they develop players well and because they fit their system, the Aztecs often exceed their recruiting projections by winning without top recruiting classes. All of that being said, see below to look at how this class of athletes fits into what SDSU likes to do on the field.

The Skinny:

  • 22 players signed (20 recruits, plus 2 grad transfers)
  • 9 offensive, 11 defensive, 2 athletes
  • 15 listed at 3-stars by one of the major recruiting sites.
  • Breakdown by state: 15 California, 2 Arizona, 2 Texas, 1 Georgia, 1 Hawaii, 1 Washington
  • 93rd in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

QB Joe Green

  • Joe Green is a competent quarterback with a big arm. He’s mobile in the pocket and can get out and run with the ball a bit as well. Green is accurate on his throws, especially on deep balls, and makes quick reads after the ball is snapped. He seems in complete control of the offense from pre-snap until the end of the play. Joe looks like he will be a potentially dynamic quarterback for the Aztecs in due time.

JUCO QB Jordon Brookshire

  • Jordon Brookshire comes in with two years of college experience, and it shows. He is polished in his command of an offense and is able to go through his reads in the flow of the game. Brookshire has a cannon for an arm and consistently hits his receivers on the run. Looking at his film he is able to make a wide variety of throws and it’s clear to see how he can move an offense down the field. Jordon could come in and compete for the starting job or a role in the offense next season with his skill set.

RB Justin Dinka

  • Justin Dinka is the prototypical San Diego State running back. He can run between or outside the tackles. He’s strong enough to go through traffic and fast enough to hit top end speed as he gets into the second level. Dinka is also able to double as a returner and it’s easy to see him continue that role at the college level. He runs well in traffic and is patient as he waits for his holes to open up. Justin will be the next great Aztec running back to move through the ranks.

TE Anthony Landphere

  • Anthony Landphere is coming in as a do-it-all tight end who can be a major weapon for San Diego State. He can line up along the line as well as spread out wide as a receiver. As a blocker, he’s a huge presence who hits with a nasty streak, punishing defenders and opening up big holes. Landphere excels as a receiver, as he is fast for his size and racks up lots of yards after the catch. With his size and speed combination, he is a matchup nightmare for any defenders to scheme against. Anthony could big a factor for the offense as soon as next season and should be a playmaker for years to come.

OL Jacob Jimenez

  • Jacob Jimenez is a graduate transfer coming from BYU. As one would expect from a grad-transfer, he would likely compete and win a starting job right away. With three seasons already at the D-1 level, Jimenez has the experience and can serve as a mentor for the young players. Of course he is a more developed player since high school, but his tape shows he is a capable run-blocker and gets a nice push to drive players back.

OL Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson

  • Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson has the long name to back up his long frame and huge size. An imposing figure at 6’7”, he’s a mobile athlete who can potentially be a weapon along the offensive line. Crenshaw-Dickson is used to pull in the run game, where he can utilize his athleticism and mobility. He has good footwork and moves well going backwards in pass protection and does a noticeably good job of staying as low as possible, which can’t be easy given his height. Brandon took most of his snaps at right tackle in high school and could be a big-time player for the Aztecs there going forward.

OL Kyle Trombley

  • Kyle Trombley is another big lineman, and was athletic enough to play on both sides of the ball while in high school. He displays a well built frame and his technique makes good use of his strength of run-blocking and pass-protecting. It’s telling that the offense ran the majority of their plays with Trombley either as the lead blocker or key lineman. He does a really nice job of squaring up his body to make blocks and one would guess he responds well to his coaching, wanting to keep getting better. Kyle should be a cornerstone on the offensive line for years to come.

OL Jacob Capra

  • Jacob Capra is another grad-transfer, this time coming from the University of Oregon. Like Jimenez, he will bring a wealth of experience and should be a capable mentor to the younger players (in addition to just his younger brother). Capra plays mostly guard and is an athletic plus at that spot on the line. He consistently gets into the second level on his blocks and should keep the running game rolling. Jacob should slide into a starting spot right away for SDSU next year.

OL Joey Capra

  • Joey Capra is the younger of the two brothers, but isn’t short on talent by any means. He was an anchor on his high school OL as an athletic guard who excels run blocking. Capra stays low after exploding out of his stance and hits his blockers lower as well, disrupting their center of gravity. He executes his assignment quickly and often keeps moving to make multiple blocks on a play. There is little doubt Joey will become the anchor of a future San Diego State line, it’s just a matter of when.

DL Nassir Sims

  • Nassir Sims is one of the multiple defensive linemen being brought in for this class. He has the look of a future nose tackle with his ability to clog up the line and eat up multiple blocks. Sims gets his body moving in a hurry once the ball is snapped and if it’s just him and the center, the matchup isn’t fair to say the least. He is strong, aggressive, and won’t give up on plays just because there are a few blockers in his way. Nassir may not be needed to be relied on for next season but it would be intriguing to see what he could do as a true freshman in a game or two.

DL Jeffrey Blake

  • Jeffrey Blake spent a lot of time in high school playing tight end and linebacker, but is projected to be a defensive lineman for the Aztecs. He flies off the edge to get into the backfield and potential blockers have little chance against him. Blake moves extremely well and is strong enough to push people aside or else knock them back with a bull-rush. He doesn’t give up on plays and chases quarterbacks down from the other side of the play a number of times on his tape. Jeffrey will be an athletic presence on the defensive line for San Diego State and should carve out a role after a year or so.

JUCO DL Jonah Tavai

  • San Diego State doesn’t rely heavily on junior college players, but when they do, they find good ones. Jonah Tavai is a huge athlete who should become a force as a nose tackle. He is extremely strong and can’t be stopped by one or sometimes even two blockers. Tavai producers a steady interior pass-rush and can hault or push back blockers to neutralize the running game. He has sneaky speed and gets his hands on running backs as they attempt to get by. Jonah has experience in a 3-man d-line and could easily become the starter next season.

DL Daniel To’oto’o

  • Daniel To’oto’o put up some solid numbers in high school, and it’s easy to see why. He has a long athletic frame that he is able to use to beat slower blockers and consistently get into the backfield. To’oto’o has the build of an ideal pass-rusher, and he makes quick moves allowing him to get to the quarterback in minimal time. His film demonstrates his use of speed-rushes and swim-moves and with his speed he has little trouble catching QBs when they start to scramble. Daniel may need some time to add some strength to be able to counter strong college o-lines but should be able to duplicate his numbers in his years with SDSU.

DE Shawn Nielsen

  • Shawn Nielsen is simply a terror coming off of the line of scrimmage as a defender. He is a non-stop mover who can play either inside or outside of the defensive line. Nielsen lives in the backfield, fighting off one and two blockers at a time to get to the quarterback. He would make a nice nose tackle with added weight but the size and enough speed make him a nice interior pass rusher as a tackle or end spot. Shawn should be a consistent presence in the defense as one of the defensive ends in their 3-3-5 scheme.

DE Liloa Kapiko

  • Liloa Kapoko will be a great compliment to Nielsen on the other side of the defensive line. He is a speed-orientated player who can get by blockers with ease by using a simple cut and change of direction against slower players. Kapoko is strong enough to keep blockers from pushing him back and that allows him to fend them off and make a play on an adjacent running back. He displays the ability to make tackles while on the run at full speed and can keep contain as well. Liloa may need a year or two to continue developing but should be able to become a productive starter for the Aztecs.

LB Michael Shawcroft

  • Michael Shawcroft is a high-motor athlete who will continue the Aztec’s tradition of getting solid play from their linebackers. He lines up at Mike linebacker, but appears athletic enough to play anywhere and has the skill set to back it up. Shawcroft is able to stop the run, blitz, drop back into coverage, and play sideline to sideline. He’s the type of player you want on the field to make plays for whatever is needed at the time. Michael looks talented enough to play as soon as next season but may have to wait to see the field.

LB Garrett Fountain

  • Garrett Fountain will fit in great at one of the outside linebacker positions for San Diego State. He is tall and long enough to factor in to the run game and get into the backfield blitzing, while also mobile and fast enough to step into coverage and matchup well with the taller tight end opponents. Fountain can play on or off the line and gets off his blocks and into the backfield with little trouble. His size and speed combination make him a matchup nightmare to game plan for. It’s easy to see Garrett contributing as soon as next season but time will tell if he can find his way onto the field.

DB Kyron White

  • San Diego State loves athletes roaming around in their defense and they landed another one in Kyron White. The first minute of his tape demonstrates how he reads the quarterback well and puts himself in a position to jump into the path of the ball and make an interception. White isn’t just a ballhawk either, he is a physical tackler who can play up in run support or meet a runner in the second level and deliver a big hit. His film doesn’t show a ton of plays in true coverage, but he has the speed and length to matchup up well with receivers. Kyron will look good as one of the safeties in the Aztec 3-3-5 scheme and could see time back their next fall.

DB Patrick McMorris

  • Patrick McMorris is yet another athlete who played all over the field in high school but will be a defensive back moving forward. His film demonstrates his ability to read plays when in zone coverage, as he diagnoses routes well and can step in to cut off a route or deflect a pass. McMorris is physical, bumping receiver off their routes at the line of scrimmage and isn’t afraid to mix it up in man coverage. He is versatile enough to play a few spots in the backfield, but may do his best as a slot corner type of player.

JUCO DB Eric Wilson

  • Eric Wilson is another junior college player looking to come in right away and make an impact on the field as soon as possible. He uses his speed well, keeping up with receivers and at times is able to get a step on them and beat them to the ball. Wilson is successful in either man or zone coverage and isn’t afraid to get physical on his tackles either. It’s very likely Eric finds a role on the defense next season and use his experience to keep the defense rolling.

ATH Brionne Penny

  • Brionne Penny could play several different positions in college and no doubt many want to see him take up his brother’s mantle at running back, but his biggest impact could come at defensive back. He’s electric in the return game, and it’s easy to see how skilled he is at making people miss along with solid vision to find open holes to run through. As a defender, Penny is fluid in and out of his back pedal, and he has the look of a natural ballhawk. He has great technique as a tackler and reads plays very well. Brionne is a safe bet to play right away in some role.

ATH Noah Tumblin

  • Noah Tumblin played quarterback in high school, but is being brought in as an athlete. And what an athlete he is. Tumblin is quick, shifty, and extremely difficult to bring down when he’s on the run. Noah could fill a number of positions, but he could definitely become a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball as an H-back, WR, or an all-purpose back type of role. If SDSU is serious about getting out of the I-formation, Tumblin would be a weapon that could help them accomplish that.

Team Writer Thoughts:

(provided by Zach Ballard)

This is an Aztec recruiting class if I have ever seen one. The headliner of the class is running back is Justin Dinka and for the second straight year, the Aztecs went outside of California to find their top running back. Dinka is more in the Pumphrey mold than Penny. He is small and shifty, he will likely need a year in the weight room before he is ready to contribute.

Joey Capra is the steal of this class, the former Oregon commit was a great pickup late in the process. I think Capra has what it takes to be a four year contributor for the Aztecs.

Quick Hits:


Mike: Dinka, Landphere, Penny

Zach: Dinka, Capra

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Dinka, Landphere, Penny, Shawcroft, Tumblin

Zach: Penny, Landhphere

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Nielsen

Zach: Brookshire

Best unit:

Mike: Offensive line

Matt: Offensive line


San Diego State has a lot of projection between what the class looks like right now and what it will likely end up being over the years. Make no mistake, the talent is there right now. However, it’s also hard to fully see what could be considering much is still dependent on the development and how each player will be used. If the Aztecs are broadening their offensive playbook a bit, then their quarterbacks and tight end commits could become big-time players. Regardless, expect this class to produce like their previous classes have and keep up the consistency of the program.

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