clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 Recruiting Breakdown: San Jose State

A class with a top talent and many supporting pieces

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Eastern Michigan v San Jose State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Welcome to the tenth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today will look at the #10 team in our rankings, San Jose State.

The Spartans have long been a sneaky recruiting program in the Mountain West, regardless of what their record is. This year however, things were reversed, as they were one of the better teams on the field in 2022, but their 2023 class came in at the bottom of the recruiting rankings on this site. It’s not to say there isn’t talent because it’s easy to see the potential from the high school players. But with losing many core players, San Jose State sought to reload the roster, with almost half of the signees coming from junior college or the transfer portal. See more about this class below.

The Skinny:

  • 20 players signed
  • 11 high school players, 3 JUCO players, 6 Transfers
  • 7 offensive, 12 defensive, 1 special teams
  • 10 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • Players with a composite rating over 85: 1
  • Players with a composite rating over 82: 1
  • Breakdown by state (excluding transfers): 11 California, 1 Hawaii, 1 Illinois, 1 Nevada
  • 247 Composite Rankings (subject to change):

- Overall: 112

- Recruiting: 109

- Transfer: 124

The Players:

Transfer QB Jay-Butterfield

Jay is a highly-ranked transfer coming in from Oregon. He drops back in the pocket smoothly and picks the defense apart with quick, effortless throws. Butterfield displays pinpoint accuracy and can be effective in shotgun or under center. He is mobile enough to scramble and keeps his eyes downfield to make a throw. Jay will likely be QB2 next fall but is the heir to the starting spot once Cordeiro leaves.

Transfer RB Quali Conley

Quali comes over after time at Utah Tech. He is a great runner in space, possessing the skills to make defenders miss and he can also drag defenders for extra yards. Conley has the vision to find the holes and accelerates through them quickly. While he is at his best in the open field or cutting to the outside, he isn’t afraid of contact and does a lot of his work running between the tackles. Quali should not have an issue transitioning to the Mountain West and should find a role right away for the Spartans.

Transfer RB Isaiah Ifanse

Isaiah is another running back transfer, coming to the Spartans after successful seasons at the FCS level. He is a balanced runner, displaying patience while waiting for holes to open up before reaching full speed and outrunning the defense. Ifanse isn’t afraid of contact, bowling over would-be tacklers as he fights his way for extra yards. He is shifty, making cuts with ease and changing speeds well, depending on the situation. Isaiah has a good understanding of what he is trying to do on the field, and it will bode well for him next season.

WR Keynan Higgins

Keynan is the type of player that San Jose State does a great job recruiting every year. He comes to play wide receiver, where he has a knack for making big plays. Higgins is a great route runner and his long strides give him natural separation from defenders. He has great hands and high points the ball well in the air. Keynan has a bright future is the type who can carve out a role early in his career.

TE Kamaehu Kaawalauole

Kamaehu played on both sides of the ball in high school but is coming to college as a tight end. He has great game speed and gets to where he needs to be quickly. Kaawalauole is a crisp route runner who turns upfield immediately after securing the catch. He displays good hands and has a wide catch radius. Kamaehu may need time to adjust to to being a full-time tight end but he should be a good option in the pass game down the line.

OL Nate Hale

Nate joins the roster as an offensive lineman after committing in January. He gets into proper position as soon as the ball is snapped and displays good technique when blocking. Hale stands out in pass protection, moving well laterally and keeping rushers at bay. He shows off his strength when pass blocking, locking onto defenders and shoving them out of the way. Nate will need to add weight before seeing the field, so expect him to redshirt next year.

OL Luke Griskey

Luke is an offensive lineman who has the size ready to play in college. He has a nice burst off the snap and locks onto blocks right away. Griskey is mobile and does a good job getting out of the pocket to the second level. He is aggressive on every play and knows his assignment. Luke is a versatile lineman who can play multiple positions but seems to project as a guard who is a run-blocking specialist.

DL Vaka Hansen

Vaka played both ways in high school but is slated to be on the defensive line in college. He is very active on the line once the ball is snapped, disrupting plays from the get-go. Hansen has vast size but is fluid in his movements, evading blocks when he’s able and pushing off blocks when he has to. He looks like a true nose tackle, eating up blocks and shutting down the run game. Vaka looks like a great young player who has a bright future ahead of him.

DE Alexander Cobbs

Alexander is a talented defensive end entering the fold. He has a fast first step and uses his speed to get past blockers. Cobbs has excellent size and has the prototype build for a pass rusher. He doesn’t give up on plays and runs down defenders in the open field. Alexander could potentially find a role next season and his potential is as high as anyone.

DE Kade Millard

Kade is a two-way player joining the defense for San Jose State. He is relentless off the edge as he gets after opposing quarterbacks. Millard does a great job mixing up his moves; he displays a speed rush, spin move, swim move, and more. He is strong enough to shed blockers and is a complete player, looking stout against the run. Kade should be a great player if he keeps developing.

JUCO DE Tavarius Pitts

Tavarius is coming in from the junior college level. He is an experienced pass rusher who has an array of moves to get to the quarterback. Pitts is also skilled at stopping the run, reading plays well, and reacting accordingly. He is a sound tackler and has good technique with how he defends. Tavarius should have the talent and ability to contribute right away.

LB Dylan Lee

Dylan played all over the field in high school but will be a linebacker in college. He is extremely athletic, and flies all around the field to make plays. Lee is an excellent tackler in the open field, putting force into his hits and wrapping up well. His speed allows him to cover well when he matches up against receivers or tight ends. Dylan may benefit from a redshirt to get reps at one position, but he should be up to speed in no time.

JUCO LB Noah McNeal-Franklin

Noah is another junior college player in this class. He appears very fluid in coverage and does a good job keeping his eyes on the play and reacting accordingly. McNeal-Franklin is comfortable around the line of scrimmage and is great tackler in the open field. He is equally skilled stopping the run or in pass coverage. Noah is stepping into a position of need and it looks like he will be up to the task.

DB Hunter Nowell

Hunter comes into this class as a defensive back. He tracks plays well as they develop and exhibits great closing speed when he makes a play. Nowell is a hard-hitter who tackles well in space, wrapping up well. He can also play well in coverage, matching up with different types of receivers with little issue. Hunter projects as a versatile safety due to his athleticism and skills on the field.

DB Greco Carrillo

Greco is coming to the Spartans as a defensive back. He stands out in coverage, matching receivers stride for stride and staying close enough to get his hands on the ball. Carrillo does a great job using his physicality to bump receivers off their route at the line of scrimmage and run them off the field down the sideline. He is a solid tackler as well, especially when coming in toward the line of scrimmage. Greco should develop into a starting cornerback in due time.

DB Imari Conley

Imari was a late flip from a conference rival and is another defensive back. He is a high-motor player who gives max effort on every play. Conley tracks the ball well in the air and keeps his hands active to make a play on the ball. He brings an aggressiveness to the defense and provides tough coverage on receivers. Imari adds a lot of length to the corner spot for the Spartans.

JUCO DB Isiah Revis

Isiah comes from junior college to join the Spartans in this class. He moves around the field with ease to make plays on the ball. Revis takes good angles to the play and displays sound technique as a tackler. He displays plus closing speed and that bodes well for him on special teams as well as defense. Isiah is looking to play a role right away next season.

Transfer DB Jayvion Cole

Jayvion is coming to the FBS level after playing at Cal Poly. He brings a lot of experience and a vast skill set to the team. Cole appears to be a great cover corner who tracks the ball well in the air and uses his body to shield the receiver from the ball. He also is a dynamic returner who could be a real asset on special teams. Jayvion will likely play right away next year in some capacity.

Transfer DB DJ Harvey

DJ is another transfer coming in with a lot of hype. His high school tape shows his athleticism on both sides of the ball, most notably his his extra level of speed when it’s time to make a play. Harvey diagnoses plays well and closes in on the ball with force as he makes a tackle. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands, either as a returner or after making an interception. DJ should not only play right away but immediately become one of the better players on the Spartan defense.

Transfer K Kyler Halvorsen

Kyler transferred to San Jose State from in-state rival Hawaii. He has a big leg, striking the ball with force, which allows him to kick from long distances. Halvorsen is extremely accurate, as evidenced by his statistics on extra points. He is also versatile, piling up the touchbacks on kickoffs and showing nice abilities as a punter as well. Kyler will compete for the starting kicker spot and appears to have all the skills necessary to win the battle.

SJS Team Writer Thoughts: Vic Aquino

First of all, thank you Mike (our MWC editor) for doing the heavy lifting for us on this series.

I’m a bit contrary to your take. I feel this is collectively one of SJS’ better recruiting classes in the Brennan era. I can’t put my finger on it completely; except that when I watch the recruits’ tapes, there are more players where I can tell there’s something there in the first two or three plays, and I can stop the video vs. trying to figure out a players’ potential throughout their entire video - if that makes sense.

All said, there’s a foundational replacement that needs to happen with the Spartans given the stalwart names who’ve been the identity of the program for the last few years are now gone. So, there is a big void to fill, and in the vacuum of it, it will happen one way or the other.

If I try to put myself in SJS’ coaching shoes, I’m sure they anticipated this day coming probably a little more than the normal program churn. Overall, I think they did a great job here, as I see a slew of recruits that could make an impact or at least really up the competition a great deal.

Quick Hits:


Mike: Hansen, Higgins

Vic: Millard, Pitts, Nowell

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Hasen, Higgins, Nowell

Vic: Nowell, Conley, Hansen, Cobbs

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Cobbs, Hale

Vic: Halvorsen, Kaawalauole

Best unit:

Mike: Defensive Line, Secondary

Vic: Defensive line


It appeared that San Jose State’s primary goal in this class was to reload with transfers who were ready to play right away. Based on who they signed, it seems like that goal has been accomplished. Also, they supplemented the class with high school talent. While they may not have the clear star potential that other classes have, one player looks primed to blossom and there are more who should become solid starters in due time. If the coaching staff remains in tact to develop these players, many members of this class are safe bets to outperform their recruiting rankings and become solid college players during their time at San Jose State.

Previous: Boise State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Utah State, Nevada, UNLV, Air Force, Hawaii

Tomorrow: New Mexico