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2022 Recruiting Breakdown: San Diego State

A class with stars and top end talent at familiar positions

NCAA Football: Boise State at San Diego State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the second post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today will look at the #2 team in our rankings, San Diego State.

San Diego State continued last year’s recruiting success with another remarkable class in 2022. They hit their home state of California hard and found several star recruits and other top-end players to nearly secure the top class in the conference for the second year in a row. Specifically, the Aztecs found their best recruits at familiar positions; running back and defensive back. Read below to learn more about the players that make up this stellar recruiting class.

The Skinny:

  • 22 players signed
  • 16 high school players, 6 transfers
  • 13 offensive, 9 defensive
  • 2 four-stars, 14 three-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • 5 players with a composite rating of 85 or higher
  • 14 players with a composite rating of 82 or higher
  • Breakdown by state (doesn’t include transfers): 12 California, 1 Hawaii, 1 Nevada, 1 Texas, 1 Utah
  • 247 Composite Rankings

- Overall: 77th

- Recruiting: 68th

- Transfer: 77th

The Players:

QB Liumotumotua’anaileafi Aumavae

Liu is an impressive looking quarterback. He is poised in the pocket and has a very strong arm with nice touch on deep throws. Aumavae appears to be able to make every through and looks at his best with time in the pocket where he can see plays develop and make all of his reads. He has spent most of his time in the shotgun formation, so he may have to get used to taking snaps under center more, but he should be able to adjust. Liu could add a new dynamic to the Aztec offense if both sides can adjust.

QB Kyle Crum

Kyle is another QB in this class. He has a solid build and a huge arm to go with it. Crum is a gamer who won’t give up on a play and keeps things alive with his legs when plays break down. He is great at eluding pressure and getting the ball out before getting hit. Kyle also displays the ability to make quick decisions and throws, which will benefit him at the next level.

Transfer QB Braxton Burmeister

Braxton comes to San Diego State to replenish the depth in the quarterback room. He is methodical in the pocket, going through his reads and picking apart defenses when he finds the open receiver. Burmeister is also a crafty runner, capable of getting away from rushers and picking up yards with his feet in the open field. He rolls out of the pocket nicely and throws on the run with accuracy. Braxton transferred from Virginia and will compete for playing time to be the signal-caller next year.

RB Hassan Mahasin

Hassan is a versatile offensive player with impressive speed. He is a smooth runner who can change direction on the fly, leaving defenders in the dust. Mahasin possesses good hands as a receiver and is dangerous with the ball in space due to his speed and ability to make people miss. He has good vision to find open holes in the zone or gaps to run through and is difficult to bring down with just one player. Hassan can play running back or wide receiver and while he will primarily be a running back, he can be a major weapon in the offense.

RB Lucky Sutton

Lucky is a big powerful running back in this class for SDSU. He hits holes quickly and decisively and keeps his legs moving after getting hit. Sutton reads his blockers well and makes smooth cuts to juke defenders in the open field. He is a pretty good receiver and his strength allows him to bounce off tackles more often than not. Lucky appears to have all the traits needed to be the next great Aztec running back.

RB Sheldon Canley

Sheldon is a different type of running back in this class. He is smaller and speedier, with long strides and an extra burst of speed once he gets into the second level of the defense. Canley isn’t just a one-trick pony; he can run between the tackles effectively and is hard to bring down because tacklers can’t square up well on him. He excels at bouncing out towards the sidelines and turning up field before the defense has a chance to react. Sheldon should add another dimension to the Aztec running attack.

WR Jacoby Kelly

Jacoby is a tall wide receiver who passed up a slew of offers to join San Diego State. He does a great job creating separation from defenders with technical route-running and uses his size well to win 50/50 balls. Kelly has excellent hands and is difficult for defensive backs to bring down because of his size and strength. While he isn’t a burner, he has long strides which allow him to pile up yards after the catch or extend plays in the open field. Jacoby could find immediate playing time with the Aztecs at a position of need.

TE Logan Tanner

Logan is an intriguing tight-end prospect out of Texas. He is able to line up on the line or out wide and is a true receiving threat on offense. Tanner makes athletic moves after the catch and is dangerous with the ball in his hands because he isn’t able to be brought down easily. He takes good angles on his routes and is faster than he appears, running past defenders with ease. Logan will have to adjust to better competition at the next level but has all the tools to succeed.

Transfer TE Mark Redman

Mark comes to the Aztecs from the PAC-12. He has tremendous size and a large catch radius, making him a difficult player to cover. Redman covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time and is almost a sure thing on any ball up in the air due to his height advantage. He is also a capable blocker who can neutralize pass-rushers. Mark should provide immediate help at tight end, which is a position they have experienced a bit of attrition at this off-season.

OL Drew Azzopardi

Drew comes to San Diego State from one of the better high school programs in the state. He is a mammoth player along the offensive line but is mobile enough to be used to pull or to get out in front of a running back to make blocks downfield. Azzopardi simply overpowers defenders and drives them back with his strength advantage. He is cleary used often as the key blocker on running plays and can be utilized well in the passing game as well. Drew could play either guard or tackle in college and will be a great fit in the Aztec running game.

OL Laakea Kapoi

Laakea is a very skilled offensive lineman from Hawaii. He is physical off the snap and plays with an obvious aggression on the field. Kapoi is very technical with his footwork and hand placement, both in pass-protetion and run-blocking. He does a good job maintaining a low center of gravity when blocking. Laakea played a lot of tackle in high school but profiles best as an interior lineman in college.

OL Rambo Mageo

Rambo is another offensive lineman coming in with huge size. He stays low in his blocking and explodes into his hits with lots of force. Mageo moves great laterally and plays through the whistle, always looking for his next block. He latches onto defenders and doesn’t let them get away once he makes contact. Rambo looks to have the necessary tools to succeed at tackle.

Transfer OL Cade Bennett

Cade is big get for the Aztecs, transferring in from Oklahoma State. He was athletic enough to play both ways in high school, which shows his quickness and fluid movements. Bennett packs powerful hits in his blocks and plays through the whistle. He excels in run-blocking and drives defenders back with his strength and technique. Cade should immediately step into a starting role to help replace some departed offensive linemen.

Transfer DL Justus Tavai

Justus is an in-conference transfer and was one of the better defensive players for Hawaii last season. He is extremely quick for an interior defensive lineman, using his speed to move off the line quickly. Tavai explodes off of the snap and immediately gets into the backfield, often beating double teams. He reads plays well, letting his instincts help him to make plays. If Justus continues to play as he has previously in the Mountain West, he will make an impact for the Aztecs no problem.

DE Ryan Henderson

Ryan is coming into the fold on the defensive side of the ball. He explodes off the snap and enters the backfield often before the linemen have time to react and get into position. Henderson is athletic enough to hunt down quarterbacks when they scramble and he does a noticeably good job putting his entire body into his tackles. He appears to overpower blockers with both his strength and speed, making him a well-rounded pass-rusher. If Ryan keeps developing, he could be a great fit as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

Transfer DE Deven Lamp

Deven is a transfer coming in to help reload the defensive line. He is long, athletic, and quick off the line of scrimmage, allowing him to get in the backfield easily. Lamp features an array of pass-rushing moves and slips away from blocks to get a hand on the ball or the quarterback. He reacts to plays quickly and is able to line up on the edge or the interior of the line. Deven has all the skills necessary to carve out a role right away.

LB Trey White

Trey is coming to the Aztecs as a linebacker. He is very athletic, playing all over the field, including running back. White also uses his speed to get into the backfield and plug up holes at the line to shut down the run game. He is a very physical player and tackles well in space. If Trey keeps developing, he could turn into a solid contributor for the team.

Transfer LB Cooper McDonald

Cooper comes in to solidify the linebacker ranks. He is an instinctual player with a high motor who reacts quickly to disrupt plays. McDonald can play in quite a few different spots; in the box, on the edge to rush the passer, or dropping back in zone coverage. He is a fierce tackler who stops runners in their tracks with little issue. Cooper should be able to contribute next season to help uphold the stout defense.

DB Joshua Hunter

Josh comes from a big-time high school program, where he was a standout on defense. He is not afraid to be physical and is a textbook tackler in the box for run support, putting his whole body into a hit. Despite his size, Hunter excels as a deep safety who can track the ball well and cover ground to make a play on the ball. He plays exceptionally well in zone coverage and though it doesn’t show up much on his film, he has the necessary skills to play in man coverage as well. San Diego State has a solid track record of producing quality defensive backs and Josh should be one of those by the time his career is over.

DB Max Garrison

Max is a really nice athlete who will be a defensive back for SDSU. His time as a wide receiver should help him play cornerback full-time, as he can understand route concepts and have better than average hands. Garrison utilizes his speed well, matching strides with receivers or closing in on plays in front of him. He is a physical player and reads the field well. Max could potentially see playing time right away next season depending on how a few things play out.

DB Chris Johnson

Chris is another defensive back in this 2022 class. He moves well going backward and times his jobs effectively to highpoint the ball well. Johnson is skilled both in man coverage and zone and has a developed understanding of how to play the position. He isn’t afraid to get physical when making a play on the ball or getting involved in the run game. Chris appears ready to play and now it’s just a matter of where he falls on the depth chart when the season begins.

DB Eric Butler

Eric brings nice size to the secondary in this class. He doesn’t give up on plays and his speed allows him to make a number of touchdown-saving tackles. Butler has good instincts on the field and can cover a lot ground in coverage as well as coming up to stop the run. He is a sound tackler and can impact a play in a variety of ways. Eric can play all over the secondary but may be best at the hybrid Aztec position the defense employs.

Team Writer Thoughts:

This year’s recruitment class for SDSU is strong and boasts a promising group of young men who will look to repeat their record-breaking season. A lot of seniors are leaving the program, especially in key positions such as QB, RB, TE, and DB. The Aztecs were stellar in the run game and on defense last season and will look to continue that culture next season. This year’s class of recruits and high-caliber transfers should fill those key positions just fine.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Sutton, Kelly, Hunter, Garrison

Tyler: Mahasin, Kelly, Hunter, Redman

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Sutton, Kelly, Hunter, Garrison, Mahasin, Butler

Tyler: Sutton, Mahasin, Redman, Bennett, Garrison, Tavai

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Johnson, Azzopardi

Tyler: White, Crum

Best unit:

Mike: Running back, defensive back

Tyler: Defensive back, offensive line

Summary:

Under Brady Hoke, San Diego State continues to be one of the best-recruiting programs in the Mountain West. The talent is clearly evident at the top and middle of their class, and even the bottom of it has some intriguing players worth keeping an eye on. They appeared to have plugged some holes with their transfers. They found talent in the most important positions to their schemes, and while on one hand that makes sense, it did not extend to other positions they need to improve in. Perhaps that is their area for growth moving forward.

Previously: Boise State

Up next: Fresno State