2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Tight Ends

Adam Roberts blocks

San Diego State tight end Adam Roberts, who caught the game-winning two-point conversion against Nevada last season, returns in 2013. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • TE D.J. Shields
  • TE Hunter Hewitt
  • TE Gavin Escobar

Projected starter (2012 stats)

  • TE #44 Adam Roberts – Jr., 6-foot-3, 235 pounds (3 catches, 23 yards, one touchdown)

Key reserves/Players to watch

  • TE #87 Aaron Boesch – RS So., 6-foot-5, 230 pounds – After using his redshirt season last year, expect Boesch to see the field often in 2013. The athleticism and skills are there, but how much he plays will depend on the strength and size he is able to gain in the offseason. If he is able to get stronger and add 10-15 pounds, look for him to be a solid contributor on offense and special teams next year.
  • TE David Wells – Fr., 6-foot-5, 230 pounds – True freshman rarely come in and play right away at San Diego State, but losing three players from a position group is just as rare. A three-star recruit, look for Wells to show up in fall camp and compete for playing time immediately next season. With an impressive skill set and a good combination of size and speed, Wells has a legitimate chance to make an impact as a true freshman.
  • TE #85 Dominique Bierria – Jr., 6-foot-5, 215 pounds – A relatively unknown recruit, Bierria comes from Santa Monica City College and Carson High School in Los Angeles. At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, he is a big target, but will need to add weight if he wants to play at the Division 1 level. Bierria will join the Aztecs in the spring and participate in spring practices, and his ability to join the team immediately will dramatically increase his chances of playing next season. Keep an eye on him throughout the offseason to track his progress.

2013 Commitments
San Diego State has two tight end commits in the 2013 recruiting class. David Wells and junior college transfer Dominique Bierria are expected to sign with the Aztecs, and both will make a push for playing time next season.

In the past, San Diego State’s offensive coordinators have relied heavily on two-tight end sets. With newly hired offensive coordinator Bob Toledo, it is unsure if this will be the case.

Toledo plans to run a pro-style offensive, similar to what former offensive coordinators Andy Ludwig and Al Borges ran, but with three tight ends leaving, he will likely cater his play-calling tendencies to his strengths.

While there is plenty of talent among the tight end group in 2013, experience is lacking, as Roberts is the only returning tight end who played last season. This will likely lead to fewer two-tight end formations and more sets with a fullback or a third wide receiver. The Aztecs won’t abandon the tight end completely, however, as Roberts, Boesch and likely one or two others will see playing time next season. Expect Wells, Bierria, and redshirt junior Mike Miller to compete for playing time in fall camp. Also, don’t be surprised if the coaches flirt with the idea of moving former tight end and current defensive lineman Robert Craighead back to his original position. If this switch occurs, look for Craighead, a redshirt sophomore, to be in the mix for immediate playing time as well.

One thing to keep an eye on is the involvement of Toledo with the tight ends from a coaching standpoint. Because it already has the maximum number of assistants, San Diego State will not be able to hire a tight ends coach once again in 2013. The Aztecs were able to get away with not having a designated tight ends coach in years past because of the depth and experience of the tight ends, but things will be different next season.

Last season, Ludwig was listed as the tight ends coach and first-year graduate assistant Dorian Keller helped out with the position. With a young and inexperienced group, it is imperative that Toledo pays close attention to the tight ends throughout the offseason, as they will need his wisdom and expertise to progress and improve.

Wells or Bierria will see significant playing time in their first season with the Aztecs in 2013.

2013 Season Preview: Home
2013 Season Preview: Defensive Line
2013 Season Preview: Linebackers
2013 Season Preview: Cornerbacks
2013 Season Preview: Safeties
2013 Season Preview: Special Teams
2013 Season Preview: Wide Receivers
2013 Season Preview: Running Backs

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

Hunter Hewitt: WordPress – http://hunterhewitt.wordpress.com
Hunter Hewitt: Blogger – http://hunterhewitt.blogspot.com
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Hunter Hewitt: Twitter – http://twitter.com/hunterhewitt89
Hunter Hewitt: Facebook – http://facebook.com/hunterhewittSDSU
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


Feature Friday: D.J. Shields

D.J. Shields scores his first career touchdown vs. Wyoming in 2010 (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

SDSU’s Shields shines in the classroom and on the field

For many Division 1 athletes, their sport is their top priority. Skipping class or putting aside homework to get some extra rest is a common occurrence, and performance on the playing field is often more important than performance in the classroom.

For San Diego State football player D.J. Shields, however, this is not the case.

“Ever since I was younger, I’ve always been into school and enjoyed it,” Shields said. “I realized at an early age that if I put a lot of time and effort into it, it would get me places in life. I knew I was here to play football, but I also wanted to take full advantage of my opportunity to get an education.”

A native of San Diego, Shields grew up in Bonita, Calif. and attended Bonita Vista High School. A versatile athlete, he played football, basketball and baseball in high school.

At Bonita Vista, Shields excelled in the classroom as well as on the football field. He earned over a 4.0 GPA, and had 44 catches for 532 yards his senior year. He was named the Mesa League’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2007.

After receiving multiple scholarship offers, Shields, who grew up watching SDSU football, chose to stay close to home and play for the Aztecs.

Shields redshirted in 2008, but saw action immediately as a redshirt freshman. He played in all 12 games in 2009, finishing the year with 11 catches for 109 yards.

In 2010, Shields was a big contributor once again, playing in all 13 games and scoring his first career touchdown. He also recovered two onside kicks to help secure a victory in a crucial game against No. 23 ranked Air Force.

Although the onside kick recoveries didn’t show up in the box score, they were arguably two of the most important plays of the season, as they helped SDSU defeat a ranked opponent for the first time in 14 years.

On top of his accomplishments during the season, 2010 was memorable for Shields because he was able to help the Aztecs defeat Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl in his hometown.

“The Poinsettia Bowl is one of my most memorable moments,” Shields said. “It was cool going from 2-10 my first year to a bowl victory. It was also special that it was here in San Diego, because all my family and friends got to watch.”

Shields played in seven games in 2011, missing multiple games due to a foot injury that hindered him all season. Ironically, he recovered an onside kick against Air Force once again, when SDSU defeated the Falcons in another close game.

Never straying away from his mentality about education, Shields has also had incredible success in the classroom at SDSU. A civil engineering major, he has earned a perfect 4.0 GPA in three different semesters.

For each of those semesters, Shields was awarded the Malik Award, an award presented at the annual SDSU Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet for student-athletes who achieve the department’s highest GPA.

In the summer of 2012, Shields was able to land an internship with Kiewit, a well-known construction and engineering company that is currently working on a project with the San Diego International Airport. Throughout the summer, he balanced a hectic schedule that included 40-plus-hour work weeks, summer school and daily football workouts.

After recovering from his foot injury, Shields is healthy again and has played in the first two games of the 2012 season. Once the season is over, however, he thinks it will be time for him to move on to a new chapter in his life.

“I know that once December rolls around, that will probably be it for football for me,” he said. “I feel like my body has had enough, and the best opportunities for me to succeed are using my brain in the engineering field rather than on the football field.”

Shields will graduate in May of 2013, and hopes to end up working full-time for Kiewit or catching on with another construction or civil engineering firm. As for future plans and goals, he is still trying to figure out what he wants to do with his civil engineering degree.

“I passed my engineer-in-training exam last April, and that was a big step for me.” Shields said. “The next step would be to pass the PE (professional engineer) exam, but I’m not sure if I want to go down that route or stay with the construction side of things and work my way up. I’d love to be a head superintendent or a project manager.”

Although he is unsure of his future, one thing is for certain: unlike many Division 1 athletes, Shields has his priorities straight.

Highlights from the 2010 victory vs. Air Force. Shields’ second onside kick recovery can be seen at the 2:15 mark

Hunter Hewitt: WordPress – http://hunterhewitt.wordpress.com
Hunter Hewitt: LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterhewitt
Hunter Hewitt: Twitter – http://twitter.com/hunterhewitt89
Hunter Hewitt: Facebook – http://facebook.com/hunterhewittSDSU
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

by Hunter Hewitt