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SJSU Football: February 2022 Signings, Hell-bent Edition

SJS head coach Brent Brennan (left) & SJS OC Kevin McGiven (right)
photo by: Vic Aquino

In adding to the Spartans’ 2021-2022 signing class in head coach Brent Brennan’s sixth season, it was a familiar message heard across many signing classes.

“It is the best signing class ever.”

  • DL Jairus Satele, a California all-stater from St. John Bosco High School
  • QB Anthony Garcia, the Sacramento area offensive player-of-the-year from Capitol Christian High School
  • S Jaylan Lawson from Bakersfield College
  • LB Jordan Pollard from Las Vegas from Faith Lutheran High School
  • WR Cieonta Davis from Dominguez High School in Compton, CA

With the five new signings totaling 22 for the overall class, there are a few signs and observations that it actually is.

It would be fitting to also add why this is good on a couple different levels than just the Spartans’ on-field perspective.

Ultimately, beyond the hype, it should be about the overall experience

In at least a couple of high-profile cases of player exoduses, the significance of the transfer portal has created a power shift. In particular for the Mountain West: Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming are most notable with former Hawaii QB Chevan Cordeiro now with San Jose State being a prime example.

All these departures either show that fragile temperaments have an easier way out or the entire ecosystem of a program better be completely accountable and genuine.

“It’s really important that we surround our student athletes with good people who really care about their well-being, their process and their development,” Brennan said. “It’s always been that way for me.”

As a beat writer who has covered Brennan since he arrived at San Jose State, yes, it’s supremely clear its always been that way for him.

Brennan added, “The portal doesn’t affect that aspect of our philosophy. If our players are having a good experience and they feel like they’re being treated the right way, hopefully, they’ll choose to stay no matter what the circumstances are, but there are no guarantees of that.”

The culture of Brennan’s program has never been more clear, especially coming off a down year after being the Mountain West champions the year before.

And the student-athletes and their families who choose such a program still on the rise speaks to something else also going on under the waterline.

The signings

It’s also clear that any coach needs to create an atmosphere of high competition.

First glance at the quarterbacks, it looks like an embarrassment of riches like “we’ve never seen before.”

San Jose State in recent years hasn’t had such a stable of more athletic QBs to build around. The Spartans have a proven QB in Cordeiro and a battle tested Nick Nash and equally notable strong-armed QBs in Tyler Voss and Anthony Garcia who are also very athletic. And not to forget still listed Natano Woods, Walter Eget and Matt Der Torossian.

On the receiver side, the Spartans needed a recharge and got a big boost. Most notable are Nevada transfers Elijah Cooks and Justin Lockhart, but Cieonta Davis and Kejuan Bullard look more than relatively promising.

One might argue that defensively, the Spartans made out like bandits as well, beefing up with players who look to be able to take part right away. From safety Jayson Lawson and LBs Damonie Perkins, Jordan Pollard, Justin Ecklund, and Justin Stearns to DL Noah Lavulo and Jairus Satele, there’s D1 energy there, at least from video and in comparison to other teams’ signings.

In the offensive trenches, the Spartans have five OLs in Denaris Derosa Jr., James McNorton, Jake Steele, Uluakinofo Taliauli and center Bryce Peterson that show a high potential, again, based off relative and subjective “armchair QB expertise” from this beat writer.

A bit more clear at the running back position, there’s certainly high caliber in Viliami Teu, Camdan McWright and Jakob Galloway that’s just as needed if not moreso than the Spartan receiver needs.

With a cursory review of Brennan’s previous recruiting classes, the potential hit rate does look highest with this class.

The conference perspective

Since Brennan’s tenure, the brand that is Spartan football is still on a slow steady rise, but for many outside this realm, there’s still not much respect or acknowledgement. Maybe rightly so.

How Brennan’s program responds this season and with this particular class has to show some real dividends right away.

Not only must they get back the receiving and running attack from their magical 2020 championship run, the program needs to also show its bounce back resiliency like other stalwart programs in the conference – for the betterment of the conference.

The greater area that is San Jose is demographically and socioeconomically diverse and immense like no other MW city. What’s good for San Jose State players also has greater upside for the conference (business details that perhaps are for another deep dive article).

“I think this place can be really special. I really do,” Brennan said. “I think we’re sitting in a really great spot because of our location and the quality of our academic institution. When you combine that with our post-graduate job opportunities, it makes us totally unique.”

“I think it benefits the Mountain West conference for us to be good at football, because we’re in a city of a million people in a state of almost 40 million people,” added Brennan. “It’s a huge city with a huge media market, but more importantly, it would be great for SJSU and that’s what we’re hell-bent on doing.”

Overall, the buzz again is real and folks will certainly be watching closely.