Fresh off the Mountain West media days, and with fall camp in sight, the roundtable is back for another week. Continuing with the team-focused themes as we get closer to the start of training camp, the question of the week is: who is the best player on each team entering the 2022 season?
Zach: JL Skinner is an NFL lock and, with a big senior season, could sneak into the first round of the NFL draft. Skinner is a big-hitting safety and an elite run stopper. He will need to grow in the passing game to solidify his draft status. Honorable mention: Scott Matlock, Tyreque Jones, George Holani
Mike: On the SDSU side of things, there are quite a few players who deserve to be in the conversation. KeShawn Banks, Jonah Tavai, and Patrick McMorris are all talented enough to lead the defense and be the impact player in any given game. However, in my mind, Caden McDonald dons the title of the best player for the Aztecs. He is a do-it-all type of player, competent against the run, blitzing, and even dropping back into coverage. McDonald piled up the stat sheet last season, recording a number of tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and a few passes defended. With a few other players from last season moving on, look for McDonald to have a monster year leading the San Deigo State defense.
NittanyFalcon: That’s a hard question for a team that relies on everybody executing their assignment in order to win against teams with generally bigger, stronger, and more athletic players. I think I’ll go with the player who surprised almost everybody last year. He was recruited as a wide receiver in high school and was switched to safety in his freshman year. Last year he was switched to play as a linebacker at an undersized 6’1”, 225 lbs, and quickly became one of the top tacklers behind the line of scrimmage in Falcon history. Vince Sanford’s ability to get around slower offensive linemen, fight through blocks from running backs, and finish his tackles is eye-opening. He ended last year with 17 TFLs for 116 yards (sixth most in AF history), and 9.5 sacks for 91 yards (second behind All-American Chad Hennings). I expect opposing teams will have to scheme their blocking to account for Sanford more effectively.