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2023 Recruiting Breakdown: San Diego State

A class with top-end talent

NCAA Football: Toledo at San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-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 continues to be one of the best recruiting programs in the Mountain West, and they showed that with their 2023 version. They signed a large amount of top-end talent, especially at the skill positions and also found transfers to meet immediate needs on the defensive line and linebacker. SDSU recruited California extremely well and have a few players who could even see the field next season. Read below to learn more about the players that make up this stellar recruiting class.

The Skinny:

  • 22 players signed
  • 14 high school players, 4 junior college players, 4 transfers
  • 8 offensive, 14 defensive
  • 13 three-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • Players with a composite rating of 85 or higher: 7
  • Players with a composite rating of 82 or higher: 12
  • Breakdown by state (doesn’t include transfers): 13 California, 3 Texas, 2 Hawaii
  • 247 Composite Rankings (subject to change)

- Overall: 85

- Recruiting: 89

- Transfer: 71

The Players:

QB Javance Tupouata-Johnson

Javance is an extremely talented quarterback heading to San Diego State. He is the complete package at QB, capable of explosive plays with his legs as well as his arm. Tupouata-Johnson has a cannon for an arm and throws all on the field with accuracy, noticeably on deep balls. He is a slippery runner and can either extend plays in the pocket or tuck it and run for big gains. Javance would benefit from redshirting to keep developing but is the clear quarterback of the future for the Aztecs.

WR Tyson Berry

Tyson is a two-way athlete who will play wide receiver in college. He is a quick, versatile player who gets touches rushing and receiving and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Berry is effective as a deep-ball threat as he gets separation with little issue. He has great vision after the catch and is tough to tackle. Tyson should be able to make the SDSU offense more dynamic with his skill set.

WR Baylin Brooks

Baylin is a talented athlete who will come in to play receiver. He has blazing speed and can be used in a variety of different ways on offense. Brooks seems to be at his best on screens, sweeps, and passes to the flat where he can get the ball in space quickly. After the catch, he bounces off arm tackles and can simply outrun many players when he reaches full speed. Baylin could be used in some packages in soon as next season but would benefit from a redshirt season.

Transfer WR Raphael Williams Jr.

Raphael comes to San Diego State as a transfer from Western Carolina. He gets downfield quickly on deep routes and does a good job high-pointing the ball to come down with the catch. Williams has no issue getting a step or more on defensive backs, getting behind them where he can make a catch with minimal coverage. He is skilled at adjusting the timing of his route to make sure he comes down with the ball in stride and gains extra yards after the catch. Raphael should help to replenish their losses at the wide receiver position and find an immediate role.

OL Jonah Rodriguez

Jonah is one of, if not the top offensive lineman entering the Mountain West. He is quick off the snap and fierce on the attack as he makes his blocks. Rodriguez moves into position well thanks to sound footwork, and his strength and agility neutralizes defenders trying to get past him. He regularly gets into the second level for additional blocks, and is even athletic enough to play defense. Jonah is skilled enough to play any position on the o-line and should anchor the unit for the Aztecs.

OL Ryan Silver

Ryan is another talented lineman in this San Diego State class. He has impressive size but moves well, whether it is pulling or getting into the second level on run plays. Silver is exceptional as a run-blocker, staying low and exploding out of his stance after the snap, resetting the line of scrimmage by pushing defenders back. He has a great understanding of his assignment and opens up big holes in the running back. Ryan should slot in nicely as a guard, helping the SDSU run-game thrive.

OL Briley Barron

Briley will add more talent to the offensive line room. He is massive in size, and uses his strength to bowl over defenders. Barron delivers punishing blocks, pancaking defensive linemen before moving on to the next player to block. He is mobile enough to be used to pull and has little issue getting out into space ahead of the running back. Briley looks like he will be an effective guard at the next level for the Aztecs.

JUCO OL Kyle Stanback

Kyle comes via the junior college route to play on the offensive line. He has a long frame and quick feet that allow him to keep up with the speed of edge rushers. Stanback has sneaky strength, pushing around defenders all over the field to open up holes or keep the quarterback upright. He gets into position right away, executing his assignment while displaying proper technique. Kyle is likely to add depth to the unit and seems like he could find a role sometime next season as a tackle.

Transfer DT Samuela Tuihalamaka

Samuela is a transfer coming from Oklahoma State. He gets a great push at the line, knocking blockers into the backfield where he can disrupt the play. Tuihalamaka excels at stuffing up the run, closing gaps and wrapping up ballcarriers once he gets his hands on them. He does a good job reacting to plays as they develop and plays through the whistle. Samuela seems like a great fit to replenish the d-line and should make a difference right away.

DE Sinn Brennan

Sinn is one of the pass-rushers in this class. He is an active player off the edge with a long frame that makes him a difficult matchup. Brennan does a great job mixing up his moves at the line of scrimmage, executing a bull rush as easily as he can a swim move. He is a smart player, knowing when to rush full speed and when set the edge and wait. Sinn is high on potential and should turn into a strong player in college.

DE Brady Nassar

Brady enters the fold as one of the top edge players in this Mountain West class. He is prolific at getting the quarterback by any means necessary, backing blockers down with his strength and getting by them with his quick change of direction. Nassar isn’t one-dimensional, he is also stout against the run since he is always in a position to make a tackle and he wraps up well. He is an aggressive, high-motor player who appears to simply out-hustle others on the field to make a play. Brady looks talented enough to play right away in some capacity and figures to put up some nice numbers when he takes the field.

JUCO DE Talib Salahuddin

Talib comes to San Diego State from junior college. He is relentless after the snap, giving maximum effort in his pursuit of the quarterback. Salahuddin is strong enough to bull-rush blockers and quick enough to beat them off the edge to make a sack. He is also stout against the run, beating other players to the gap to make a tackle on the ball carrier. Talib should add immediate production as a pass-rusher for the Aztecs.

JUCO DL Tupu Alualu

Tupu is another junior college player on the defensive line. He is a high-motor player who flies around the backfield making plays. Alualu is patient when he needs to be, reading the play so he doesn’t over-pursue. However, once he commits to moving, he goes full speed and covers a lot of ground to make the tackle. Tupu should keep developing into a productive player for the Aztecs.

JUCO DL Kenneth Jiles Jr

Kenneth arrives as a junior college defensive lineman. He has incredible size which aids him in being an effective pass rusher. Jiles keeps his feet and arms moving as he does everything possible to disrupt a play, whether that is a sack or batting down a ball. He uses his length and speed to fly into the backfield and chase down quarterbacks to make a play. Kenneth will compete for playing time and should earn a role on the restocked d-line.

LB Chris Fewell

Chris is a linebacker coming to play for SDSU. He moves smoothly moving all directions and has the awareness to be effective in pass coverage. Fewell is sneaky in his ability to cover ground thanks to his long strides, and he regularly jumps routes to get his hands on the ball. He is a great tackler and lays hard hits in the open field. Chris’ size and ability make him an ideal fit in the Aztec’s 3-4 scheme.

LB Caleb Otlewski

Caleb is another linebacker in this class. He is a long, athletic player who seems to make do everything he can to make an impact on the play. Otlewski excels at being active around the line or scrimmage, racing through holes to plug up the run game and getting his hands on the ball to deflect a pass. He is also a proficient blizter, flying off the edge and tracking down quarterbacks with his long strides. Caleb should be a great fit as an outside linebacker in the Aztec defensive scheme.

Transfer LB Cody Moon

Cody transfers in from in-conference New Mexico, where he was one of the best players on the Lobo defense. He is a textbook tackler who is constantly in the best position to stop the offense in its tracks. Moon reads offenses well and moves well on the field and is exemplary against the run. He is quick enough to roam sideline to sideline and strong enough to get in the mix on the line of scrimmage. Cody figures to come in and start right away at a linebacker spot next year for the Aztecs.

DB Jelani McLaughlin

Jelani comes to the class as a defensive back. He is skilled at anticipating where the ball is going and moves quickly into position to make a play on the ball. McLaughlin has great, active hands, and does a great job reading the quarterback, all while keeping his legs moving. He isn’t afraid to get into the box and make a tackle in the run game and is aggressive on special teams as well. Jelani should be a solid safety during his college career.

DB Jordan Napier

Jordan was a two-way player in high school but will be a defensive back in college. He displays great hands from his time as a receiver and he always seems to find himself in a position to pick off a pass. Napier moves around the field effortlessly, making him an ideal fit as a deep safety where he can track the ball and float over to deflect the ball. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands, which makes him a strong candidate to spend time as a returner. Jordan profiles best as a free safety where he can roam the back of the defense and make plays.

DB Marcus Ratcliffe

Marcus is another extremely talented player entering this class. He is a well-rounded defensive back, capable of coming down with a big interception in coverage and also laying hard hits in the open field. Ratcliffe does a great job reacting to plays as they develop from his spot in the secondary and shows good technique tackling in space. He is fast, but also moves well laterally to elude blockers in order to get to the ball. Marcus has the ability to play right away at one of the safety positions.

DB Samuel Dunnell

Samuel is yet another defensive back for San Diego State. He reads the quarterback well and moves effortlessly around on the field. In coverage, Dunnell is able to neutralize receivers thanks to his height and speed combination, aiding him in getting his hands on the ball to make a play. He is a fierce tackler and looks like a natural when he steps in to help stop the run. Samuel has great size at the cornerback spot giving SDSU an intriguing option at the position.

Transfer DB JD Coffey

JD is a defensive back who transfers in from Texas. He reads plays extremely well in the back of the defense, putting himself in position to come down with an interception or breakup a pass. Coffey is also a physical tackler who looks like a natural in the run game despite his strong skills in coverage. He can even step up in special teams as a dynamic returner. JD looks talented enough to carve out a role in a crowded secondary and become a playmaker.

Team Writer Thoughts:

The consensus is that Javance Tupou’ate-Johnson will fill the quarterback position in the coming years. He has all the physical talents and skills necessary. Brady Nassar has been a player I’ve watched for a while. He comes from an athletic family at the high school where I used to teach and coach football. I’m surprised there were not more P5 offers because he certainly has the potential to be a strong force for the Aztecs in the years to come. I would expect New Mexico transfer Linebacker Cody Moon to step in immediately. The departures of Caden McDonald and Michael Shawcroft will leave an opening to fill, and Moon should be able to shoehorn right in. One other player to watch to make an immediate impact is DE Kenneth Jiles. He is listed as a 6-6, 240 lb Juco enrollee from Ohio. He brings experience and the capability to immediately step in on a deplenished defensive line.

The Aztecs were looking for a replacement for Jordan Byrd at punt and kick returns and may have found their person in Tyson Berry, a 5-7 speedster out of Tyler, Texas. While diminutive in stature, he has the quickness and elusiveness to give the Aztecs a special teams weapon. I also have optimistic opinions about Sinn Brennan at defensive end. He brings tremendous talent and experience playing in the competitive Los Angeles County area, and I expect him to exceed expectations and get significant playing time.

The Aztecs had some serious concerns that needed to be addressed, and they did well in most areas. They have added recruits who all have size and this is pretty evident along the trenches with four new athletes on the offensive line. I believe the Aztecs went to their core area of strength, and that is the defensive line. Playing in the 3-4 defense, they added six linemen to help both replace their losses to graduation as well as to supplement last year's heavy freshman class. They key for the Aztecs starts with the D-line play and they continue to add to their depth with players such as Nassar, Brennan, Jiles and Talib Salahuddin.

Quick Hits:


Mike: Rodriguez, Tupou’ate-Johnson, Nassar, Ratcliffe

Jeff: Tupou’ate-Johnson, Nassar

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Rodriguez, Tupou’ate-Johnson, Nassar, Ratcliffe, Otlewski, Napier

Jeff: Rodriguez, Tupou’ate-Johnson, Nassar, Ratcliffe, Otlewski, Napier, Moon

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Brennan, Fewell

Jeff: Berry, Brennan

Best unit:

Mike: Offensive Line, Edge

Jeff: Offensive Line, Defensive Line


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 the transfers all seemed prime for significant roles right away. They have become skilled at recruiting players who fit their scenes and it’s easy to see players from this new class have successful careers because of that. The Aztecs have given size a serious consideration as they try to build upon a larger player profile. Look for this group to form the core on both sides of the ball for the next competitive Aztec team.

Previously: Boise State

Up next: Colorado State