Aztec Football: San Diego State Hones in on Local Talents

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The Aztec Warrior cheers moments before a game in 2014.
Photo by Seth Sanchez/Icon Sportswire

As its football team is preparing for the bowl game against Army in Texas, San Diego State signed what is believed to be the largest class of local talents Wednesday, the first day of the early-signing period.

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Out of the 16 student-athletes who signed letters of intent with SDSU on Wednesday, nine were from San Diego-area schools. That’s a win for Tony White, the Aztecs’ recruiting coordinator and cornerback coach. While his team was practicing at Burleson Centennial High School in Texas, White was busy checking his phone for signed commitment letters — so much so that he was afraid that head coach Rocky Long might get angry.

“I didn’t want coach to get mad at me when he sees looking down at my phone on the field,” White said. “But it was a good day. I think we signed a pretty good class.”

Only time will tell if the recruiting class will work out as expected but SDSU signed some solid local talent, which is the goal every year, but this year it seemed to pay off.

“Coach Long wants us to build a fence around San Diego,” White said. “Obviously some years you’re gonna be able to do that, some years you’re not.”

Having three back-to-back winning seasons, certainly, did not hurt.

“Everybody wants to be a part of a winner,” SDSU’s offensive coordinator Danny Gonzalez said. “The local kids are starting to buy in and believing in what we’re doing.”

The key to SDSU’s success this year was recruiting local talent early before the Power 5 schools could get their hands on them.

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“I think the staff did a great job identifying the talent … and building the relationships needed to where when those guys get offer other places, I think the young men were honed in on San Diego State and what we’re doing and what we’re building here,” White said.

And the number of local talents are expected to grow over the next two days of the early signing period and Feb. 7, when traditional commitment begins.

“We do it all time,” Long said, referring to SDSU’s local recruiting strategy. “It’s just that all of the sudden we’re more attractive to local guys.”

Long said he’s understands why local players want to go elsewhere. It’s a chance for them to go stretch their wings away from their parents and “become their own man,” he said.

“But we’re happy … that a lot of the guys we offered are staying in town,” Long said.

Here are the local talents committing to SDSU so far:

  • Andrew Alves, St. Augustine
  • JR Justice, St. Augustine
  • William Dunkle, East Lake High
  • Matt Araiza, Rancho Bernardo High
  • Carson Baker, Helix High
  • Rashad Scott, Helix High
  • Josh Bornes, San Marcos High
  • TJ Sullivan, Mt. Carmel
  • Cam Thomas, Carlsbad High

In addition, the members of the early class include three from Nevada, two from New Mexico, and one apiece from Texas and Canada.

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