National Signing Day is finally in the books. Somewhere Rocky Long and his staff are giving themselves a pat on the back.
The Aztecs brought in 24 recruits from 10 different states in arguably the most diverse class in San Diego State football history.
"They're from all over the country," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. "There's a reason for that. I think when people thought we were going to the Big East, in retrospect, it was a real benefit because we got in contact with a lot of people who had never been in contact with us before."
The Big East attention truly helped in recruiting and it didn't hurt, either, when SDSU moved back to the Mountain West.
"As soon as we went back to the Mountain West, we were concerned that might make a difference to these guys we were recruiting, and it didn't make any difference whatsoever to them once they visited here and realized how good things are here," Long said. "And what it has done is open up a whole bunch of other recruiting areas San Diego State never had in the past.
"Obviously, the more places you can recruit and the more possibilities you have, the better recruiting you can do. I think overall, if you go just by their high school films, this is a little step up from the classes we've had in the past. But that doesn't mean they'll be as good as the guys we've got right now, because they have to develop like these guys did."
The lone major concern about the class is that SDSU brought in 24 prospects but only have room for 17 of them.
"Several of these young men have been approached with the possibility of gray shirting, and are willing to do that," Long explained. "But in my experience, we will have two or three more spots available due to an academic issue or an injury or something. But there's a chance all 24 will show up in the fall.
"For freshmen, gray shirting is really a good idea. They have a chance to get a few units in junior college, and as long as they're not full-time students, they can come in to practice and compete in spring practice, which gives them a much better chance to play."
Long mentioned that most of the freshmen in the class don't have an "honest chance to play as freshmen." But that changes if they are able to sit out the year, go through spring practice and an off-season program. It should greatly increase their chances of playing.
"So some of these guys understand it's a good deal, and they'd be willing to do it if they have to," Long said.
The surprise of the Aztecs recruiting class was Texas Tech running back Ronnie Daniels. He was rumored to transfer to SDSU during the middle of the season.
"Now, he has some academic things he needs to take care of, and he's in a junior college right now," Long said. "So as long as he takes care of his academic work in junior college, he can play next year."
Daniels, a three-star recruit back in high school, showed enough to Rocky Long to take the sophomore on the bounce back.
"He's no different than anybody else on this list," Long said of Daniels. "We investigate their families, their backgrounds, if they have any problems in their past or any issues that might come up while they're here. And we're pretty satisfied he's learned from his mistakes."
Aztecs star tight end Gavin Escobar left school early for the NFL. Backups D.J. Shields and Hunter Hewitt graduated from the program.
So how does San Diego State respond? By taking three quality tight ends.
One guy of those "guys" is two-star tight end Dominique Bierria from Santa Monica College. He committed to SDSU less than 24 hours before enrolling for the spring semester.
"I think it's really important he's here now to get through spring practice," Long said. "We lost two senior tight ends. We were recruiting nothing but high school tight ends at the time, but as soon as Gavin Escobar decided he was going to the NFL, it made it more important for us to try to get a transfer tight end.
"So the process of recruiting Dominique was, `Let's get the best athlete we can find out there at tight end and see if he wants to be a tight end for us.' So it was a quick deal. But I was always hoping that (Escobar) was staying, because I thought it was the best thing for him."
Arguably the best recruit of the class is Seffner (Fla.) Armwood 6-foot-5, 230-pound specimen Darryl Richardson. The three-star prospect is originally a quarterback who has only played tight end for his 7-on-7 travel team (video below).
The last of the bunch is David Wells of Clovis North In Fresno (Calif.). He had 57 receptions for 1,142 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season.
Despite Rocky Long saying that he "doubts" any of the new comers, except the transfers, could see playing time early. He did mention that tight end was "probably the best position for a guy to play" since the team lost three tight ends.
2013 is the Year of Diversity
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