Welcome to the eighth piece of our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. These articles aim to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured this year in alphabetical order. Today will look at San Diego State.
San Diego State:
San Diego State was boasting a new-look offense and were expected to be one of the top teams in the conference and potentially even compete for a conference championship. Instead, they put together their worst campaign since 2009. After beating Ohio and Idaho State to begin the year, the Aztecs suffered four straight losses, including two in conference play. They rebounded to beat Hawaii, but then had another four-game losing streak, including an embarrassing one to Nevada in which they went scoreless. Somehow, they beat Fresno State with one of their best games of the season, but it was too little, too late. An announcement was made that Brady Hoke would be retiring and SDSU was at a crossroads to end the season.
Sean Lewis was hired shortly after, and he kept most of the recruiting class intact and then had a great few weeks leading up to signing day, putting together a very strong class. Read why below.
The Road So Far:
San Diego State signed 25 players in the December signing period, the highest in the conference aside from Air Force. 16 play on offense, while 9 are coming to play defense. As usually, most of the signees come from California, although not as much as usual with 10 players this cycle. They also dipped into Washington, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, and even American Samoa. This class was a heavier than normal on transfers once Coach Lewis came in, with 9 plus a junior college player. The other ten are from high school.
Starting with the offense, they signed both a high schooler, Danny O’Neil, and transfer, AJ Duffy, and both are talented enough to assume the starting role. Similar things hold true at running back where it’s hard to say who is more talented, Anthony McMillian, or Cincere Rhaney. The wide receiver room features a trio of talented but different high school players. Will Cianfrini possesses height and great hands, Isaiah Buxton is dynamic and can make big plays while Ben Scolari had a very productive high school career as someone who can do a bit of everything. This doesn’t even count the two transfers at the position, Nate Bennett and Ja’Shaun Poke. It’s safe to say the WR room will be very different next season. A similar influx of talent occurs at tight end, where Arthur Ban and Ryan Wolfer both have great size and Gabe Garretson from junior college will bring the experience. The offensive line boasts four signees, two high schoolers and two transfers. Kai Holec is as solid as they come for future tackles, while Saipale Fuimaono will be a bit raw as he adjusts to playing stateside. To help bridge the gap, transfers Brayden Bryant and Nate Williams are being brought in to play early.
Jumping over to the defense, Kodi Cornelius and transfer Marlem Louis will man the interior of the defensive line in both the immediate and not-too-distant future. Meanwhile, Ryan Gaea will play on the edge and has the prototypical size for that spot. Danny Niu is a quick linebacker, but the real focus by the coaching staff was defensive back, where they added six players. Prince Williams and Tayten Beyer should have no issue at the corner spots while the crown jewel of this class, Jason Mitchell II can play anywhere in the secondary but might thrive in the Aztec position if they continue that scheme. A trio of transfers fills out the defense, with Bryce Phillips, Zach Morris, and William Nimmo Jr all likely being penciled in for immediate playing time at different spots in the secondary.
Number who signed in December: 26
Number who will enroll early: 11
247 Composite Rankings:
- Overall: 81st
- Recruiting: 79th
- Transfer: 74th
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: EDGE, LB
San Diego State did some tremendous work in the class of 2024, but some work still remains. They currently have one of the best classes in the Mountain West thanks to their work over the course of the year and the past few weeks, and have a nice balance of talented transfers and now look to finish things off.
There are a few positions that the Aztecs can add to between now and February, even though the bulk of the work is done. The offense is pretty much complete, although the team likely wouldn’t say no if the right transfer player at any position came along. However, the Aztecs are short on edge rushers in this class so far. Good defenses can never have enough players getting after the quarterback, so look for them to add one, or maybe two EDGE players in the transfer portal. Likewise, the class is noticeably light on linebackers and adding either a high school player or a transfer makes sense.
All in all, San Diego State has assembled a great class so far. While they do need additions to finish off the class, there is nothing wrong with the 25 signees at this point. The 2024 version of the Aztecs should be much improved from what was seen in 2023.
Coming next: San Jose State