2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Defensive Line

Jordan Thomas tackle

Starting defensive end Jordan Thomas (59) and defensive tackle Sam Meredith (98) return in 2013 to lead an experienced group of defensive lineman. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • DE Frederick Trujillo

Projected starters (2012 stats)

  • DE #59 Jordan Thomas – Sr., 6-foot-1, 255 pounds (18 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble)
  • DT #98 Sam Meredith – Jr., 6-foot-4, 275 pounds (36 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one fumble recovery)
  • DE #47 Cody Galea – RS Jr., 6-foot-3, 265 pounds (22 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks)

Key reserves (2012 stats)

  • DE #97 Dontrell Onuoha – RS Jr., 6-foot-2, 265 pounds (Nine tackles)
  • DE #90 Everett Beed – RS Jr., 6-foot-3, 255 pounds (10 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one fumble recovery, one defensive touchdown)
  • DT #92 Dan Kottman – So., 6-foot-1, 245 pounds (10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss)
  • DE #99 Jon Sanchez – RS So., 6-foot-2, 265 pounds (21 tackles, two tackles for loss)

Players to watch

  • DE #97 Dontrell Onuoha – RS Jr., 6-foot-2, 265 pounds – Onuoha was the starter at one of the defensive end spots in 2012 before taking time off to deal with personal issues. Galea filled his role, and played well enough to keep the job once Onuoha returned towards the end of the season. Keep an eye on Onuoha to see if he can fight his way back into the starting lineup next season.
  • DT #96 Kenny Galea’i – RS Jr., 6-foot-1, 270 pounds – After missing much of the last two seasons with injuries, expect Galea’i to make an impact next season. Several lineman with playing experience return, which might make it difficult for Galea’i to crack the depth chart early on, but a strong offseason could catapult him into the two-deep and get him onto the field. Expect him to compete with Kottman through fall camp for the primary backup spot at defensive tackle behind Meredith.
  • DE #58 Alex Barrett – RS Fr., 6-foot-3, 245 pounds – After redshirting his first season on campus, don’t be surprised if Barrett steals some playing time from the veteran defensive ends. With his first offseason in a Division 1 strength and conditioning program approaching, he should have no issue adding 10-15 pounds to his frame without losing quickness. With his impressive size and athleticism, he has a legitimate chance to see playing time next season.
  • DE Ben Moa – Fr., 6-foot-4, 225 pounds – A member of the 2012 signing class, Moa was unable to join the team in the fall due to academic eligibility issues. Keep an eye on him to see if he will join the team in the spring semester as a grayshirt.

2013 Commitments
With less than a month until signing day, two defensive ends have verbally committed to San Diego State. Dakota Turner and Jordan Watson both look to have promising collegiate careers ahead of them, but they will likely redshirt if they end up signing with the Aztecs due to an immense amount of depth at the defensive end position.

Analysis
For the last two seasons, the defensive line has been a major concern for the Aztecs due to a lack of experience. In 2013, however, things will be different.

Next season, SDSU will bolster a deep defensive line unit after losing just one senior and returning all three starters. Head coach and defensive coordinator Rocky Long is big on rotating players, meaning at least six defensive lineman will see significant playing time. The Aztecs return seven players from this position group who played at least 10 games in 2012.

Meredith is the leader of the group, and he will add to his already impressive skill-set with another offseason of strength and conditioning workouts. Look for him to man the middle and anchor the line with even more consistency as his body continues to develop and gain strength. He will likely add 10-15 pounds to his previously listed weight of 275 pounds.

At the ends, Thomas and Galea are likely to retain their starting jobs as they are the most complete at their position, but don’t be surprised if Onuoha, Beed, or Sanchez make a push for one of their spots. Beed is arguably the best pass rusher in the group, but will have to become more stout in run support to earn a starting role. Onuoha and Sanchez, on the other hand, have great size and can provide solid run support, but will need to improve their pass rushing skills to become starters. With another year of experience under their belts, expect improvement from all the defensive ends, both in pass rush and run support.

Galea’i and Barrett are two names to keep an eye on, as both have a chance to crack the two-deep with a strong offseason. As for the other young linemen in the group (Robert Craighead, Malcolm Jackson, Teddy Queen), it would come as a surprise for any of them to see extensive playing time due to the amount of experience the veterans above them have.

Overall, expect the defensive line to play a key role for the Aztecs next season, clogging the middle on runs and providing more pressure on passing situations than in years past. The improved pass rush should help make up for the loss of shutdown cornerback Leon McFadden, as defensive backs will not be relied on as much in coverage because opposing quarterbacks will be pressured more often.

Prediction
San Diego State’s defensive linemen combined for just 6.5 sacks in 2012. They will double that number and record at least 13 sacks as a group in 2013.


2013 Season Preview: Home

Stay tuned tomorrow for a preview on the linebackers of the 2013 San Diego State Aztecs


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Hunter Hewitt About.me – http://about.me/hunterhewitt
Hunter Hewitt: BrandYourself – http://hunterhewitt.brandyourself.com/
Hunter Hewitt: GoAztecs.com Player Profile – http://goaztecs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/hewitt_hunter00.html
Hunter Hewitt: SDSU News Team Story: http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news.aspx?s=73846


by Hunter Hewitt

GO AZTECS

Checking in on Day 2

Hello Aztec fans!

I’m checking in for now while I have a little down time before we get back into meetings and practice. Today has been a good day so far, but it will get even better once we hit the field for practice this evening.

I published the first Q&A piece on defensive end Dan Kottman, be sure to check it out! This is the first of a series of Q&A’s with the 2012 signing class, and these will give readers a chance to meet some of the new Aztecs. The first Q&A piece can be found in the Future Aztec Warriors section, or by clicking here.

I will check in later today after meetings and practice. In the mean time, here’s a cool new video of my fellow teammate Gavin Escobar and his highlights from the 2011 season. If you’re wondering about the song selection, it’s because his sister created the video!

GO AZTECS

Meet the Aztecs: Q&A with Dan Kottman

Photo Credit: Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations

The first in a daily series of Q&A’s with the 2012 signing class.

Dan Kottman is a defensive end from Denton, Texas, where he played at Guyer High School. At 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, some may consider Kottman to be undersized, but his relentless motor and aggressive mentality will make up for any lack of size.

Kottman comes to the Mesa after a very successful high school career. He was named first-team all-state for his efforts during his senior season, and he hopes to continue his success at the next level here at San Diego State. Kottman will continue to play defensive end in Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme. He will wear No. 92 for the Aztecs.

GoAztecs.com player profile
Rivals recruiting page

 

Q: Why did you choose SDSU?
A: I really liked the coaching staff and the environment when I got out here. I felt like the team had a strong bond and I really wanted to be a part of that.

Q: How were the summer workouts for you?
A: They were killer at first. They were really hard and we had to get into shape at first. I dropped about 9 pounds right off the bat. I’m starting to get a hold of it and I’m getting into good shape.

Q: Have you picked your major yet?
A: I’m going to be a business management major. I want to be able to run my dad’s company whenever I’m done with football.

Q: What are you most excited for leading up to your first semester at San Diego State?
A: The football season. I want to feel the environment at a football game and see what that’s like. I want to hear the sound of the crowd and see how it feels down on the field.

Q: What do you like to do during your spare time?
A: I like to sleep and workout. We don’t have much time to sleep at night so I try to get as much as sleep as possible.

Q: Who are your favorite professional sports teams?
A: I’d have to say the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks because I’m from that area.

Q: Is there any athlete that you look up to or try to model your game after?
A: I’d say Clay Matthews because of the way he plays. He goes out there and kills people and doesn’t worry about his body at all.

Q: If you weren’t a football player, what sport would you be playing?
A: I’d be a wrestler. I did it in middle school and I really enjoyed it but they didn’t have a wrestling team at my high school.

Q: What is your most memorable sports moment from high school?
A: When I blocked a punt with 26 seconds left to save the game. We ended up scoring after that block and winning by one point, and that sent us to the state championship.

Q: How much do you know about the 3-3-5 defense and what about it are you most excited for?
A: I don’t know too much about it. I know that Coach Long likes to stunt a lot and have his defense moving all over the place. I’m pretty excited because I’m best at pass rush moves and not really laying into the guys but getting around them so they can’t get their hands on me.

by Hunter Hewitt

GO AZTECS