2013 Recruiting Class: Signing Day Recap

San Diego State head coach Rocky Long, the 2013 Mountain West Coach of the Year, saw 24 players sign in his 2013 recruiting class. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

San Diego State head coach Rocky Long, the 2013 Mountain West Coach of the Year, saw 24 players sign in his 2013 recruiting class. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Wednesday was a big day for San Diego State, as it added a total of 24 new players to its football program on National Signing Day.

Taken directly from the GoAztecs.com Signing Day Central, here is the 2013 recruiting class:

2013 recruiting class

There were some surprises throughout the day, both good and bad, but the Aztec coaching staff seemed very pleased with the new additions.

As expected, San Diego State head coach Rocky Long has made it clear that most of these incoming players are unlikely to see playing time next year. He also noted that there is virtually no way of grading this class until you see how each player pans out a few years down the line.

While it is extremely difficult to predict which players will live up to the expectations, here is a brief synopsis at first glance:

Surprises
WR Christian Cumberlander – The 6-foot-3 wide receiver was one of the last players to sign on Wednesday, and did so in Lebron-like fashion. His commitment was unknown heading into Wednesday, and he had a live video feed to announce his decision. There was an Auburn hat, an Oregon hat and a San Diego State hat on a table, and he planned to put on the hat of the school he would sign with. Years ago, San Diego State was rarely mentioned with the likes of Auburn and Oregon, but yesterday was a prime example of the growing program’s newfound ability to compete with the upper-echelon schools. Cumberlander eventually chose the Aztecs hat, symbolizing his intent to sign with San Diego State.

RB Ronnie Daniels – A transfer from Texas Tech, the signing of Daniels flew under the radar up until signing day. It was reported that he initially tried to transfer last fall, but was unable to qualify due to academic issues. Although he will still need to take care of his academic requirements, Daniels was able to sign with San Diego State and could be a great addition to the program. He played sparingly in his one season at Texas Tech, but his prior experience and good size could develop into him into a solid option at running back for the Aztecs.

TE Darryl Richardson – After the addition of Bierria and the commitment of Wells, many thought San Diego State was done recruiting tight ends. Just before signing day, however, Richardson came into the picture and gave the Aztecs their third tight end in the 2013 recruiting class. Although he played quarterback in high school, he is an incredible athlete with prototypical tight end size. With time to mature and develop his build, he could transform into a serious threat at the tight end position.

First-year contributors
TE Dominique Bierria – After losing three tight ends, there is no question that at least one tight end in the 2013 recruiting class will see playing time next season. A transfer from Santa Monica City College, Bierria was able to sign early and enroll in spring classes. This gives him a huge advantage, as he will be able to participate in the offseason workouts and spring practices. Look for Bierria to be a step ahead of the incoming high school tight ends, as he will likely add at least 15-20 pounds over the next several months working with strength coach Adam Hall.

OL Lenicio Noble – Similar to Bierria, Noble has the advantage of enrolling at San Diego State early for spring classes. With the starting center job up for grabs, he will likely compete for the spot with Jordan Smith and Austin Maass. Keep an eye on Noble throughout the offseason to see how the competition goes. Smith appears to be the frontrunner, but with a strong offseason, Noble could make a push to win the job. Whether he starts or is a backup, he will be an important player next season.

CB Kalan Montgomery – San Diego State lost both of its starting cornerbacks from a year ago, and will need younger players to step up in 2013. A three-star recruit, Montgomery has a solid chance to see the field as a true freshman. He will compete with the likes of JJ Whittaker, Mahbu Keels, Damontae Kazee and others in fall camp to determine which cornerbacks the Aztecs will utilize.

Future stars
RB Donnel Pumphrey – In an interview on signing day, San Diego State running backs coach Jeff Horton compared Pumphrey to former Aztec and current NFL running back Ronnie Hillman. Hearing a comparison like that should be music the ears of San Diego State fans, and there should be a ton of excitement about Pumphrey. Although he will likely redshirt due to the depth at running back, he has the talent to be a future star for the Aztecs, and next in the line of great Aztec running backs.

LB Fred Melifonwu – At 6-foot-5, many would consider Melifonwu to be too tall to play linebacker. In today’s game of football, however, tall and rangy linebackers are becoming increasingly popular. In San Diego State’s 3-3-5 defense, there is often a pass-rushing linebacker on the line of scrimmage, essentially a standup defensive end. With Melifonwu’s height and experience playing defensive end, he could thrive at this position for the Aztecs. This type of linebacker is also sought after in the NFL, as shown with players like Aldon Smith, Demarcus Ware and others. Melifonwu will need time to gain strength and size, but look for him to be a force for the Aztec defense down the road.

WR Charles Cumberlander and TE Darryl Richardson – Both of these players will likely redshirt in 2013, but they have the potential to be big-time contributors as early as their second year on campus. Cumberlander had several offers to choose from, and his talent is no secret. With the depth at wide receiver, however, it is unlikely he will climb the depth chart next season. Richardson, on the other hand, has to grow accustomed to putting his hand in the ground and lining up as a traditional tight end. There isn’t a ton of depth at his position, but he will need a year to develop his body and learn the fundamentals. Look for both of these players to have a breakout season in 2014.

Additional notes

  • San Diego State signed players from 11 different states, its most diverse class since the school started recording signing day statistics in 1997.
  • San Diego State signed a very balanced class. Of the 24 signees, 12 are expected to play offense and 12 are expected to play defense.
  • San Diego State signed four safeties and four linebackers. These positions will have several seniors in 2013, making it highly unlikely that any of the incoming players will see playing time. In 2014, however, the seniors will have moved on and many of the young players in this class will need to step up.
  • Rocky Long noted in his press conference that although 24 players signed, there are only 17 available scholarships. Although it is common for scholarships to open up in the offseason due to transfers, injuries and other reasons, Long said that it is possible some of the players will grayshirt. This means they would sit out the 2013 season and join the team in the spring of 2014.

That’s it for now, Aztec fans. Stay tuned for future posts such as spring ball news, a Pro Day recap, a post-spring depth chart prediction and more. 

In the mean time, be sure to check out the 2013 Season Preview Home to see the pre-spring position-by-position previews for next season.


LINKS:
Hunter Hewitt: WordPress – http://hunterhewitt.wordpress.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

GO AZTECS

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2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Offensive Line

Quigley blocks

Left tackle Bryce Quigley (78), an honorable mention all-conference selection last year, returns for his senior season in 2013. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • G Nik Embernate
  • G Riley Gauld
  • G/C Jimmy Miller
  • C Alec Johnson

Projected starters

  • LT #78 Bryce Quigley – Sr., 6-foot-5, 295 pounds 
  • LG #65 Japheth Gordon – RS Sr., 6-foot-3, 295 pounds
  • C #73 Jordan Smith – RS So., 6-foot-5, 270 pounds
  • RG #56 Nico Siragusa – RS Fr., 6-foot-5, 315 pounds
  • RT #64 Zach Dilley – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 295 pounds

Key reserves

  • G/T #70 Arthur Flores – RS Fr., 6-foot-5, 300 pounds
  • G/C #74 Austin Maass – RS Fr., 6-foot-4, 270 pounds
  • T #75 Kwayde Miller – RS Fr., 6-foot-7, 305 pounds
  • T #69 Paul Rodriguez – RS So., 6-foot-7, 285 pounds
  • G/T #67 Garrett Corbett – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 290 pounds 
  • T #79 Terry Poole – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 300 pounds

Players to watch

  • LT #78 Bryce Quigley – Sr., 6-foot-5, 295 pounds – In just his first season playing offensive line, Quigley had a solid year in 2012 and was an honorable mention all-conference selection. With another offseason to gain strength and improve his fundamentals, look for him to be a dominant force on the left side in 2013.
  • C #73 Jordan Smith – RS So., 6-foot-5, 270 pounds – With Johnson and Miller gone, San Diego State will need to find someone to take over the snapping duties in 2013. Often regarded as the quarterback of the offensive line, the center is a very important position that requires considerable knowledge in defensive fronts and schemes. Smith, who saw playing time in 2012 as an extra offensive lineman in short yardage situations, will be the frontrunner for the starting job.
  • G/T #67 Garrett Corbett – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 290 pounds – Corbett entered the 2012 season as a candidate for the starting job at right tackle, but injured his ankle in fall camp and missed the remainder of the year. A versatile lineman who can play multiple positions, look for him to bounce back from his injury and compete with Siragusa for the starting spot at right guard.

2013 Commitments
San Diego State currently has four offensive lineman commits. Lenicio Noble and Braxton Isaac are two junior college transfers expected to sign, while Sergio Phillips and Antonio Rosales are high school commits. Expect all four to redshirt in 2013, as it is extremely difficult for a lineman to learn the offense and compete for playing time right away. Noble, who is expected to join the team in the spring and compete for the starting center spot, is the most likely of the bunch to see the field next season.

Analysis
Last season, San Diego State’s offensive lineman, led by newly hired offensive line coach Mike Schmidt, exceeded expectations and helped the Aztecs rush for over 220 yards per game. Next season, they will need to find replacements for Johnson and Embernate, its most experienced lineman in 2012.

Keep an eye on Smith and Maass in spring practices and fall camp, as they will likely battle to replace Johnson for the starting center spot. Both are skilled linemen, but they will need to get stronger and add weight in the offseason if they want to be effective in 2013. Noble will also be in the mix, but he will need to learn the offense quickly in the spring and gain ground on Smith and Maass if he wants a chance to play next season.

At right guard, Siragusa has a solid chance to win the job in 2013. He impressed the coaches last season, showing flashes of talent throughout fall camp. Although his youth and inexperience might be worrisome, he is one of the strongest offensive lineman and will get a ton of reps in the offseason. He and Corbett will likely be the frontrunners to replace Embernate, but don’t be surprised if some of the other young linemen get reps at the position in spring practices and fall camp.

In their first season as starters on the offensive line, Quigley, Gordon and Dilley played fairly well as a group. All three return in 2013, and will continue to pave the way for an explosive ground attack.

Pass protection will be the main focus for the offensive line in the offseason, as the Aztecs allowed 35 sacks last year, ranking them in the bottom 20 of all Division 1 FBS teams. Expect Quigley and Dilley to improve their fundamentals in the offseason and help San Diego State drastically reduce its total number of sacks in 2013.

Prediction
Quigley will be a first-team all-conference selection 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
2013 Season Preview: Tight Ends

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


LINKS:
Hunter Hewitt: WordPress – http://hunterhewitt.wordpress.com
Hunter Hewitt: Blogger – http://hunterhewitt.blogspot.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
Hunter Hewitt: SDSU News Team Story: http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news.aspx?s=73846


by Hunter Hewitt

GO AZTECS