Welcome to the first post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #1 team in our rankings, San Diego State.
San Diego State constantly brought in above-average recruiting classes in recent years. However, they dramatically stepped up their efforts in the 2021 class. They managed to bring in some of the top-rated talent in the state of California, bolstering their rankings in multiple positions. For their efforts, they secured the top class in the Mountain West this year, coming out ahead of several Power 5 teams in the process. Look below to see what exactly makes up the Aztecs’ tremendous class.
- 25 players signed
- 23 high school players, 2 transfers
- 14 offensive, 11 defensive
- 1 4 four, 22 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
- 4 players with a composite rating of 85 or higher
- 10 players with a composite rating between 82-84
- Breakdown by state: 12 California, 7 Texas, 2 Arizona, 2 Nevada, 1 Massachusetts, 1 Washington
- 62nd in the 247 Composite Rankings
QB William Haskell
William is a talented dual-threat quarterback who the Aztecs were able to secure. He has a rocket for an arm and a surprising amount of touch on his deep throws. Haskell is mobile and shifty, evading defenders with his long strides and he throws pretty accurately on the run. He makes quick decisions going through his reads and isn’t afraid to tuck it and run when things break down. William has the potential to be the quarterback SDSU has lacked for years.
Transfer QB Jalen Mayden
Jalen comes as a transfer from Mississippi State to the SDSU quarterback room. His high school film shows him as player with great pocket presence who can also beat defenses with his legs. Mayden makes accurate throws in the pocket, or on the run and appears to command an offense well. He has great size, making him difficult to tackle, especially once he reaches full speed. Jalen should be able to find a role with the team in some fashion next year.
RB Cam Davis
Cam is an electric running back coming out of Texas. He is a smaller back, but has exceptional speed and is quite elusive. Davis makes cuts and changes direction quickly, making it difficult for defenders to get in position to tackle him. He can find the smallest hole to burst through with his vision and can also be utilized in the passing game. Cam can become a real weapon for San Diego State in an offense that knows how to develop running backs.
WR Josh Nicholson
Josh is coming to San Diego State as part of their WR unit. He has big-play potential and is able to gain separation from defenders with his long strides. Nicholson is a legit deep-threat and has great hands as well as the ability to adjust his running to time the catch. He mainly plays on the outside and puts a lot of effort into his releases to instantly break away from his coverage. Josh should develop into a threat for the Aztecs.
WR Phillippe Wesley
Phillippe is a speedy receiver in this San Diego State class. He has breakaway speed that allows him to turn quick routes into huge gains. Wesley has plus hands and tracks the ball extremely well, even while running at full speed. He is pretty precise on his routes and changes directions smoothly. Phillippe played mostly on the outside in high school but could be an intriguing possibility in the slot.
Transfer WR Tyrell Shavers
Tyrell is another transfer, joining his teammate Jalen from Mississippi State. In his high school film, he was the total package as a receiver, with great length and more speed than anyone else on the field. Shavers has a knack for getting in position under the ball and times his jumps well. Also, he is a dynamic threat after the catch, changing direction quickly and simply out-running defenders. Tyrell will add a much-needed dynamic to the Aztec offense.
TE JP Murphy
JP brings great size to the tight end position. He is a matchup nightmare for defenses with his height on the outside and his speed over the middle of the field. Murphy possesses great hands and combines them with precise route-tunning and a knack for getting open and looking for the ball. He is also a stout blocker who can make an impact in the run game. JP can add a different dynamic into the Aztec offense.
TE Cameron Harpole
Cameron has the skill of a wide receiver in the body of a tight end. He has the speed, route-running, and hands that set him apart. Harpole is at his best lining up off the line and creating mismatches for opposing defenses. He is a physical blocker who has sneaky strength. Cameron will bring a different skill set to the tight end position for the Aztecs when he arrives.
TE Gus McGee
Gus is yet another tight end in this class. In a vein similar to others, he has a big-frame making him an easy target in the passing game. McGee has sneaky speed and runs a variety of routes, making him more difficult to cover with just a linebacker. He contributes to the blocking game and is also challenging to bring down with just one defender. Gus again shows a commitment to finding players who can develop the passing game for SDSU and it will be interesting to see how he is used.
OL Josh Simmons
Josh is an incredible local talent San Diego State was able to convince to stay home. He has massive size while maintaining his mobility, as he was athletic enough to play on defense as well. Simmons overpowers defenders while run-blocking, moving them completely out of the way or simply knocking them down. He immediately gets into the proper position after the snap, staying low in his stance and displaying sound footwork in pass protection. Josh is talented enough to stay at a guard spot next year, something that is rare for an offensive lineman.
OL Christian Jones
Christian is a giant on the offensive line, standing at a towering 6’9”. He simply dwarfs opposing defenders and engulfs them with his size in run-blocking thanks to his ability to move laterally. Jones strength is quite apparent on film and is a plus skill for him, but his movement and football allow his size and strength to be fully utilized. He moves backward well in pass-protection and doesn’t get beat by speedy defenders thanks to his footwork and angles on his blocks. Christian has the size of a college player already and know the question is how soon his skills will allow him to see the field.
OL Ilaisa Gonebure
Ilaisa brings college-ready size to the offensive line. He is skilled as a run-blocker, driving back defenders into the second level and clearing a path for running backs. Gonebure is also adept in pass-protection, moving well laterally and maintaining solid football moving backward. He relies on his size and strength to make a difference at the line of scrimmage. Ilaisa looks like a great pick up for SDSU, who relies heavily on having talent at o-line.
OL Ross Maseuli
Ross is one of the better offensive linemen entering the Mountain West. He explodes off the line and punishes defenders with his hits as a run blocker. Maseuli moves well fluidly when being used to pull and then showcases his strength when taking on blockers. He has the ability to play multiple positions but would likely be best at left guard. Ross has the size to compete at the college level and the ability to go with it as well.
OL Zavier Leonard
Zavier is a big presence on the offensive line. He is a physical run-blocker, routinely pushing defenders out of the way and getting into the second level. Leonard showcases his explosiveness by being physical at the point of contact as soon as the ball is snapped, winning his battle at the line. His strength is apparent and he plays through the snap. Zavier played exclusively at right tackle and projects well there in college as well.
DL Darrion Dalton
Darrion comes to SDSU by way of powerhouse Saguaro HS in Arizona. His power jumps out from his film and his legs are constantly moving, demonstrating how he doesn’t give up on plays. Dalton regularly fights off double teams and causes havoc in the backfield, disrupting quarterbacks and running backs alike. He has a variety of pass-rushing moves to get past blockers and eats up blocks in the passing game. Darrion figures to develop into a productive rusher for the Aztecs.
DE Nowlin Pa’a Ewaliko
Nowlin is a two-way player who will play defensive end for the Aztecs. He is a high-motor player who aggressively comes off the edge to make a play. Ewaliko has a great burst of speed off the snap and covers a lot of ground in his lone strides, making him a skilled pass-rusher. He does well in holding contain in the run game and is patient as he waits for the play to develop instead of overpursuing. Nowlin has all the tools to be a productive edge-rusher in college and should be able to fulfill his potential.
LB Brady Anderson
Brady is a hard-hitting, athletic linebacker. He is a max effort player on film, playing with a high motor in order to make an impact. Anderson is always moving and his instincts allow him to be in the proper position to make a play, especially in his stout work in the run game. He can hold his own in coverage but shines plugging holes and stopping running backs in their tracks. Brady looks every bit of a future starting middle linebacker.
LB Dominic Oliver
Dominic put up big numbers in high school and now is coming in as a linebacker. He is a determined pass-rusher with a high motor who does whatever he can to get to the quarterback. Oliver is extremely quick, allowing him to get in the backfield quickly, and he keeps his hands active, which allows him to get deflections or slow down ball-carries. He doesn’t appear to be slowed down by double teams and can also be a factor in the run game with his understanding of gap assignment. Dominic is a force at linebacker and should develop into a steady playmaker.
LB Zyrus Fiaseu
Zyrus is coming to SDSU as a linebacker but he played all over the field. He is a physical linebacker who moonlighted as a running back, utilizing his speed and change of direction ability. Fiaseu really excels in his coverage ability, allowing him to neutralize offenses as he can cover multiple positions. He regularly jumps routes and flies around the field to get to the ball. Zyrus will be a nice weapon for defensive coaches to use in his time with the program.
LB DJ Herman
DJ hails from Bishop Gorman HS. He is an athletic linebacker who roams the field to make plays. Herman attacks the ball-carrier instantly after he makes a read on the play and does an incredible job staying low so he can explode into his tackles. He is quick enough and smart enough to hold his own in pass coverage. DJ appears to be a solid, well-rounded middle linebacker who should be productive in college.
DB Jaiden Brown
Jaiden looks to be a do-it-all kind of player in the secondary. He can play up in the box, in a short zone, in coverage, or as a deep safety. Brown possesses plus speed and agility, which is what allows him to play tight coverage or roam all around the field in support. He isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game and throws all of himself into a tackle. Jaiden could fill the hybrid position in the secondary thanks to his versatility.
DB New Zealand Williams
New Zealand has a great name and the talent to back it up. He has incredible instincts on the field which allow him to get a jump on plays and be in the proper position. Williams gives max effort on every play; he hunts down the ball whether it’s in the air or on the ground and delivers physical hits when needed. He has great footwork and takes fantastic angles to the ball, giving him an advantage. New Zealand will be a boon to the future Aztec secondary whenever he gets on the field.
DB Noah Avinger
Noah is an incredible talent at cornerback. He plays tight coverage and has great closing speed as he times his strides perfectly to make a play on the ball. Avinger excels at tracking the ball in the air and moving into position in the path of the ball while moving receivers out of position at the same time. He sees the field with ease, allowing him to flock to the ball as he reacts to plays. Noah should play right away and has the potential to become an all-conference CB during his time in college.
DB CJ Baskerville
CJ is one of the best gets in this class. He is a difference-maker as both a receiver and a defensive back. Baskerville diagnoses plays easily and uses his athleticism to beat offensive players to the ball, disrupting the play. He moves fluidly side to side as well as forward and backward, and that is on full display as he plays against the run. CJ, along with Noah, should form one of the best secondary duos in the conference in the years to come.
DB DJ Bryant
Another DJ in this class and this one is a defensive back, although he also played QB in high school. His time at quarterback and understanding of offensive schemes should aid him well as a DB who can diagnose plays and jump routes. Bryant flashes speed when covering routes and is able to track the ball well in the air. He also isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game, stepping up to lay a hit on a runner. DJ may need time to focus solely on defense but he has the tools to succeed.
Team Writer Thoughts:
Zach: I was skeptical of the Brady Hoke hire, but man he can recruit. This is one of the best recruiting classes in San Diego State history and it is headlined by local offensive lineman Josh SImmons. Simmons is arguably the best recruit in the Mountain West and has the size to play immediately. But I think Noah Avinger is the best player in this class and is going to be the next great San Diego State defensive back. Keep an eye on dual-threat quarterback William Haskell. Haskell is going to need some time to develop, but he has the size and speed at quarterback that the Aztecs have been missing.
Mike: Simmons, Avinger, Baskerville, Maseuli
Zach: Simmons, Avinger, Fiaseu
Talented enough to play right away:
Mike: Simmons, Avinger, Baskerville, Maseuli, Fiaseu, Williams
Zach: Simmons, Avinger, Baskerville
Mike: Herman, Anderson,
Zach: Haskell, Herman
Mike: Secondary, Offensive Line
Zach: Secondary, Offensive Line
San Diego State did outstanding work on the recruiting trail. The talent is clearly evident at the top, middle, and even bottom of their class. Also, they picked up a few talented players in the transfer portal and brought in some quality preferred walk-ons on special teams. In short, there isn’t much not to like in this class for the Aztecs. It will not be surprising if many in this class form the program’s future core. They have the unquestioned most talented recruiting class in the Mountain West this cycle.
Up next: Boise State