San Diego State currently has 17 high school recruits who have signed their letters of intent to join the Aztecs football program. They are losing some stellar players to the NFL, notably Keith Ismael and Daishawn Dixon on the offensive line and Luq Barcoo and Kyahva Tezino on the defensive side of the ball. Not all will contribute or even see playing time as true-freshman, but here are the five we believe can make an immediate impact.
ILB Vai Koha
Can’t seem to embed his tape, but here is the link.
Koha is the recruit with the highest possibility of starting as a true-freshman. He is listed as 6’0” and 210 pounds, which is a decent frame coming straight out of high school. He will need to put on some muscle weight in order to take on and beat blocks at the next level but Koha is already a talented athlete with impressive length. He lacks some speed and quickness you would like at the linebacker position but is serviceable.
The Bishop Manogue alum is fluid when matching up with tight ends and running backs in the passing game, using his length to disrupt passes. Though he has worthy skills in coverage, he is best employed closer to the defensive line where he can be a run-stuffer and blitz opposing quarterbacks. He has great vision and is able to meet ball carriers at the line of scrimmage. He can slide into the Kyahva Tezino role for the Aztecs defense which was uber-productive during his tenure as a starter. Koha’s talent is undeniable and with further development and training, he could be a star for San Diego State starting in his first season on the roster.
CB Isaiah McElvane
Isaiah McElvane was listed as an athlete during the recruiting process, due to playing both running back and cornerback in high school. SDSU will likely keep him on the defense to start his college career, where he had five interceptions in his last two seasons as a Defender. He is dangerous with the football in his hands and is a threat to steal possessions away from offenses on every drive. Spending most of his high school career on offense, McElvane is a bit raw on defense and was not very physical. He is relatively slight, weighing just 180 pounds at 5’10”, but already has tremendous instincts in coverage and possesses elite athleticism.
If he impresses coaches during training camp (if they are able to hold offseason routines) he should see a decent amount of playing time despite the depth of the Aztecs secondary. McElvane is also electric on special teams and San Diego State would be smart to give him the opportunity to return kicks in 2020.
OT Joey Wright
One of the most noteworthy signings for the Aztecs, Wright looks to be an anchor on the offensive line for years to come. Hailing from Reno, Nevada, Wright played high school football at Bishop Manogue and will be joining his former teammate, Vai Koha, as being the next cornerstones for San Diego State football.
At 6 feet 6 inches and weighing roughly 300 pounds, the former Miners lineman simply overpowered his opposition in high school. He pairs his immense size with solid athleticism and good, not great, leverage. Wright projects as a stellar run-blocker right away but could struggle some in pass protection. He got away with just grabbing defenders and thrusting them backward but with much larger and faster competition, it is fair to assume Wright may struggle early. Speedy edge rushers may give him fits at the college-level and his footwork can use coaching up. Despite this, there is no doubt he will be a dominant tackle in the Mountain West and will see the field sooner rather than later for the Aztecs.
RB Jaylon Armstead
The Aztecs have once again found themselves a very talented running back in yet another recruiting class. Armstead chose San Diego State over the likes of Arizona State, Nevada, UNLV, and Northern Arizona. He decided to commit to SDSU because of their tremendous track record with RBs and believes the school can offer him the best chance to succeed early and often in his career.
He has the elusiveness to fly through holes and speed to burn once he starts getting downhill. The Junipero Sierra alum is also lethal running routes out of the backfield, as can be seen on his midseason highlight reel above. The only thing that can cause him to not see the field in his first season and possible redshirt, is the Aztecs depth at running back. San Diego State is returning three RBs who had 70+ carries last season and one who received 30+. This leaves little room on the depth chart for Armstead to receive touches but if he proves his worth both on the ground and in the receiving game, he could be a key addition to the running back rotation as early as the upcoming season.
OLB Kobah Fuamatu
Fuamatu was a standout at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. He already boasts a projectable frame, standing at 6’1” and hovering around 200 pounds. He is an outside linebacker but also spent some time at safety for the Monarchs. Having played in the secondary of a defense, he has strong coverage ability, especially for an edge defender. On top of his skill against the pass, Kobah boasts excellent athleticism on the defensive line, bringing much needed speed upfront for the Aztecs.
He differentiates himself by having quick get-off speed and using his size and leverage to his advantage. He would benefit from adding more pass-rush moves to his arsenal which would make him even more deadly rushing off the edge. One of San Diego State’s biggest strengths is on their defensive line, which can make it difficult for Fuamatu to see the field in 2020. Regardless, don’t be surprised if he finds himself on the rotation straight out of the gate simply due to his substantial talent.
Honorable Mentions: CB Dezjhon Malone and OLB Darrell Masaniai
The 2020 recruiting class for San Diego State is not the biggest but it does contain quality players. These five recruits, along with a few others, have the potential to take the reins of the program and run with them. This class contains all-conference talent and recruits who should be starters for the majority of their collegiate career. It is an exciting time to be an Aztecs fan and it is safe to expect big things to come from the roster in the near future.