In one of Las Vegas’ newer venues, Mountain West football kicked off its 2023 media days event Wednesday at the Circa Resort & Casino.
Behind the many blanket answers and questions, the early trend was the “non-issue” of depart-me-not SDSU, the predicted season finish with Boise State on top and, of course, the pre-season offensive and defensive players of the year in Spartan QB Chevan Cordeiro and Wyoming linebacker Easton Gibbs, respectively.
Cordeiro was certainly Mr. Popular on media day one, as he clearly realizes the finality of it this year.
“Yes, I do feel a little pressure,” said Cordeiro. “I really want to go out with a bang with the emphasis to win the Mountain West and get to the LA Bowl game.”
It might be something Cordeiro truly needs besides putting up numbers like last season. With a career-high 3,251 passing yards, 23 TD tosses and nine TD rushes, Cordeiro was a force.
And he needs to be a force again to blip brighter on the national recognition radar, as last season looked to show some signs Cordeiro might be wearing down, as he ran less and defenses were figuring him out.
“I give props to coach Carroll, our strength & conditioning coach, for helping me get stronger, bigger and faster,” said Cordeiro. “He really put all of us through a lot.”
Though Cordeiro looks to be trying to take it all in his final season, it’s still clear, the military-like precision and mentality to keep improving is near-permanent.
“We should be able to call all the plays ourselves,” said Cordeiro on an example how OC Kevin McGiven pushes him. “That’s what we’ve been working on; talking through scripts, calling the plays and contingencies to make us think in a lot of different ways, where we’re really comfortable.”
Offensively, where the Spartans look to be in perfect hands with Cordeiro, SJS’ defense has its equivalent in senior safety Tre Jenkins.
Jenkins 60 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions last season belies a fierce hitter and hyper competitive soul.
“We have really eager young guys, who love to play football and make big plays; hard nose gritty guys,” said Jenkins. “Jordan (Cobbs), Chase (Williams) and my job will be to help keep them all focused; keep morale up and stay together through anything.”
Jenkins, the once super shy freshman, also exemplifies the path of an ideal student-athlete. From a relentless heat-seeking field missile to an eloquent and intelligent person off-the-field, Jenkins has already ensured his success one way or another.
“I was really shy my freshman year and hated doing these things,” shared Jenkins on his public speaking and corporate internship experiences. “Now, it’s fun and cool to do and it’s all about becoming a leader. It’s what coach Brennan taught me and it’s what I enjoy talking about with my teammates.”
Jenkins went on to describe the expected battles and successes alongside head coach Brent Brennan and all of what SJSU and being in the Silicon Valley would do for him. Promises delivered.
Cordeiro added: “I feel I made the best decision I ever made coming to San Jose State. It changed me as a man on and off the field and to become a better player. Without that move, who knows what would’ve happened.”
The family and brotherhood Brennan preached and promised is in full effect now since his start with SJS in 2017. It reverberates.
Rainbows and waterfalls
Next week, the Spartans kickoff practice with a week zero game at USC on August 26th, where Cordeiro puts his wares up against the best quarterback in the nation in Heisman winner Caleb Williams.
Cordeiro’s mentality in facing USC was similar to visiting Auburn last year in a close loss to the Tigers - comfortably confident.
But the Hawaii game in Honolulu in October…
“It’s not something I have marked down, but it’s going to be weird,” said Cordeiro. “Playing out there in a different uniform, going to the visitors’ locker room. Yes, it’s one game I’m looking forward to playing in front of a lot of family. It’s going to be fun.”
For San Jose State, the expectation should be the same this year - where preparation meets opportunity, meets success = fun and surprises all around.