2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Wide Receivers

Lockett runs with ball

After nearly posting a 1,000-yard season in 2011, Lockett saw a drop in his numbers last year. He will be back in 2013 for final season, and will be looking to go out with a strong senior campaign. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • WR Dominique Sandifer
  • WR Brice Butler

Projected starters (2012 stats)

  • WR #24 Colin Lockett – RS Sr., 6-foot, 180 pounds (20 catches, 293 yards, two touchdowns ; 4 carries, 44 yards)
  • WR #3 Ezell Ruffin – RS Jr., 6-foot-1, 205 pounds (17 catches, 319 yards ; 4 carries, 21 yards)

Key reserves (2012 stats)

  • WR #10 Dylan Denso – RS Sr., 6-foot-2, 205 pounds (4 catches, 63 yards)
  • WR #41 Tim Vizzi – RS Sr., 5-foot-10, 175 pounds (9 catches, 99 yards, one touchdown ; one carry, 17 yards)
  • WR #80 Larry Clark – RS So., 6-foot-4, 210 pounds (N/A)
  • WR #86 Jemond Hazely – RS So., 6-foot-1, 185 pounds (One carry, 5 yards)

Players to watch

  • WR #10 Dylan Denso – RS Sr., 6-foot-2, 205 pounds – After having a breakout season in 2011, Denso was unable to match his prior production in 2012. Much of it was due to a broken finger suffered at the end of fall camp, which hindered him all season. That, along with the return of Sandifer and the addition of Butler, made it tough for Denso to replicate the 49 catches for 634 yards and three touchdowns he recorded in 2011. Don’t be surprised if Denso finds his way into the starting lineup next season, and even if he doesn’t, he will still see loads of playing time and have several balls thrown his way as the third wide receiver.
  • WR #80 Larry Clark – RS So., 6-foot-4, 210 pounds – A physical specimen, Clark was given the nickname “Babytron” last season by a teammate because his frame resembles that of NFL All-Pro wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. After two seasons of development, expect Clark to finally break through in 2013 and be a solid contributor for the offense. A big target with strength and speed, Clark will likely come in on spread packages as the fourth receiver, and may be used in certain situations where his height and athleticism can cause matchup problems for opposing defenses.

2013 Commitments
San Diego State currently has one wide receiver commit, Julius Wilson from Culver City, Calif. Although it is likely he will redshirt due to the depth at his position, don’t be surprised if the talented three-star wide receiver finds his way onto the field as a true freshman.

Analysis
Although the Aztecs seemed to have a lot of talent at the wide receiver position in 2012, they relied heavily on their run game and tight end Gavin Escobar, who was their leading receiver with 543 yards (Butler recorded the second-highest total with 347 yards).

San Diego State loses Butler and Sandifer, but Lockett, Ruffin and Denso have started multiple games over the last two seasons and should not have any issues stepping up as the main targets. Lockett is the leader of the group, with career totals of 78 catches for 1,263 yards and 11 touchdowns. Similar to Denso, Lockett had lingering injury issues in 2012, as he suffered an ankle sprain early in the season and was often not at full strength. Look for him to bounce back next year and be a deep threat like he was in 2011 when he recorded 970 receiving yards.

Ruffin finally hit the scene in 2012, and broke out in the second game against Army with 5 catches for 152 yards. Following his breakout game, it seemed that the young wide receiver from Long Beach, Calif., was poised for a big season, but it ended up being his only 100-yard game of the year. Like Denso and Lockett, Ruffin also played through an injury in 2012, as he broke a bone in his hand near the middle of the season. Look for him to show his playmaking abilities even more in 2013 and have a solid year.

Newly hired offensive coordinator Bob Toledo said in an interview with the U-T San Diego that he wants to “throw the ball a little bit more than before,” and this will mean more production from Lockett, Ruffin and Denso. With Escobar and running back Walter Kazee gone, expect San Diego State to depend less on its running game and tight ends and more on its wide receivers.

Redshirt freshmen wide receivers Eric Judge and Lloyd Mills will likely need another year to mature and develop their bodies before they start climbing the depth chart. Both will be determined to see some action after redshirting last season, so keep an eye on these two, along with Paul Pitts III, to see if they can find their way onto the field as special teams contributors.

Prediction
After failing to have a wide receiver surpass 400 receiving yards in 2012, San Diego State will have three wide receivers with over 500 yards 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

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


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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

Meet the Aztecs: Q&A with Lloyd Mills

Photo Credit: Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations

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

Lloyd Mills is a 5-foot-10, 165 pound wide receiver from Chander, Ariz. Mills comes to San Diego State after a very successful high school career at Chandler High School, where he was named to the 2011 all-Arizona Division 1 team by the Arizona Republic for his efforts during his senior season. Mills was ranked the No. 18 wide receiver out of Arizona by MaxPreps.

Mills can be a game-changer both as a receiver and as a kickoff and punt returner. During his senior season at Chandler, three of his 11 touchdowns were on returns.

Not only did Mills excel on the field, but also in the classroom. He was a member of the National Honors Society and was a Distinguished Scholar.

GoAztecs.com player profile
Rivals recruiting page

Q: Why did you choose SDSU?
A: I chose SDSU because it was pretty close to home. I also liked the weather and the coaching staff. 

Q: How were the summer workouts for you?
A: They were tough, but I know it’s good for me and it will get me ready mentally.

Q: Have you picked your major yet?
A: I am going to major in criminal justice. I am interested in being a lawyer when I am done with football.

Q: What are you most excited for leading up to your first semester at San Diego State?
A: I’m excited for walking around campus and seeing new faces.

Q: What do you like to do during your spare time?
A: I like to play video games. I play Madden, Call of Duty, and NCAA Football all the time.

Q: Who are your favorite professional sports teams?
A: I like the Arizona Cardinals, the San Antonio Spurs, and the New York Yankees.

Q: Is there any athlete that you look up to or try to model your game after?
A: I’m a big fan of Larry Fitzgerald.

Q: If you weren’t a football player, what sport would you be playing?
A: I would be playing basketball, I played in high school.

Q: What are you most excited about getting to learn from Coach McDaniel?
A: He played with my receivers coach at my high school. When I found that out I knew he would be a good coach because my receivers coach helped me out a lot. I know he played in the NFL too so I’m excited to learn from him.

Q: What is your most memorable sports moment from high school?
A: Scoring a touchdown on ESPN. It was against our rival school Hamilton and there around 10,000 people there. It was crazy.

by Hunter Hewitt

GO AZTECS