Future looking brighter for Spartans

This offseason has been about building toward a brighter future at San Jose State, where coach Mike MacIntyre received an early contract extension on Jan. 25 and promptly delivered a heralded recruiting class on the first day of February.



The Spartans secured commitments from 20 players on National Signing Day, including a promising quarterback from the community college ranks and one of the top high school running back prospects in Texas. San Jose State's recruiting class was rated 99th nationally by Scout.com's recruiting services, second to only Idaho in the Western Athletic Conference.

The Spartans are losing 11 starters from a team that went 5-7 and nearly became bowl eligible in their second season under MacIntyre. They had a number of short- and long-term needs to address. MacIntyre explained that San Jose State recruiters were looking for tight ends, linebackers and other big, athletic players as well as offensive linemen, safeties, cornerbacks and a kicker.

"It's going very well," MacIntyre told the San Jose Mercury News. "There are more players who want to come here than we've had before. ? When we came here, we said we wanted to build a program, not a team. There's a big difference, and I think we're doing that."

The top recruits appear to be David Fales, a quarterback from Monterey Peninsula College; Jalynn McCain, a running back from George Bush High School in Richmond, Texas; and Fernando Villanueva, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound lineman from Independence High School in San Jose. Fales, who began his college career at Nevada, passed for 4,635 yards and 37 touchdowns in two seasons at Monterey Peninsula. He is already enrolled at San Jose State, will participate in spring practice and should compete for the starting job along with returnees Dasmen Stewart and Blake Jurich.

Tate Forcier, who played quarterback for Michigan before transferring to San Jose State, has withdrawn from school and will not play for the Spartans next season as anticipated. Even that development hasn't diminished spirits. After all, MacIntyre has a new contract that runs through the 2017 season, the Spartans have a host of talented players returning and the new recruits are already arriving to offer reinforcements.

"In two years as San Jose State's head coach, Mike MacIntyre created a new dynamic that articulates all the positives of our football program to our fans, alumni and future Spartans," athletic director Tom Bowen told the Mercury News. "We're looking forward to a very bright future for Spartan football."

TOP OF THE CLASS

QB David Fales (Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, Calif.) -- Already enrolled in school and ready to participate in spring practice, Fales will have an opportunity to start at quarterback this fall. The 6-3, 225-pound junior-to-be passed for 4,635 yards and 37 touchdowns in two seasons at Monterey Peninsula College.

RB Jalynn McCain (George Bush High School, Richmond, Texas) -- At 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, McCain possesses a nice blend of power and speed. He was listed as a three-star recruit by Rivals and ESPN, and was named one of Dave Campbell's Top 25 running backs for 2011. In two seasons at Bush, he demonstrated the strength to shed tacklers and the speed to run the 100-yard dash in 10.6 seconds.

OT Fernando Villanueva (Independence High School, San Jose, Calif.) -- The 6-foot-7, 285-pound lineman reportedly spurned offers from Washington State, Utah and Utah State to play college football in his hometown. He initially committed to Washington State but reconsidered, saying he felt San Jose State was more committed to him. The San Jose Mercury News reported that Villanueva will be evaluated as both an offensive and defensive lineman.

NOTES, QUOTES

Ex-Michigan QB Forcier withdraws from school

--All the offseason excitement over coach Mike MacIntyre's contract extension and a heralded recruiting class was tempered by the departure of quarterback Tate Forcier, who previously started for Michigan and was expected to start for the Spartans this fall. Forcier has withdrawn from classes after attending San Jose State in the fall. An unnamed source told the San Jose Mercury News that Forcier's academic standing factored into to his decision to leave, but his father told the newspaper there were also personal and financial considerations. Forcier completed 219 of 365 passes for 2,647 yards with 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 20 games for Michigan.
--Departing senior QB Matt Faulkner passed for 240 yards and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining to lead the Stripes to a 24-21 victory over the Stars in the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game on Jan. 16 at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. Faulkner was named the game's Most Valuable Player. The game was formerly known as the Blue-Gray Classic and, in 2001, the Eastham Energy All-Star Game.

SPRING SNAPSHOT

Practice begins/ends: March 6/April 13

Practice priorities: With senior Matt Faulkner set to graduate and news that former Michigan starter Tate Forcier has left San Jose State, the Spartans have to find a quarterback. The competition will be wide open with sophomore Dasmen Stewart, freshman Blake Jurich, freshman Joe Gray and incoming community college transfer David Fales all vying for the job. The running back position will be another focal point as the Spartans try to find a replacement for senior Brandon Rutley. Returner David Freeman and Minnesota transfer DeLeon Eskridge, who has one remaining season of eligibility, will vie for the starting job.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I love it here, and I'm excited about how the program is improving, about our future. When you go into the homes (of recruits), they always ask you how many years you have left on your contract. This gives us some stability." -- San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre, to the San Jose Mercury News, after signing a contract extension that runs through the 2017 season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

KEY LOSSES: The players who will be most difficult to replace will be QB Matt Faulkner, RB Brandon Rutley and S Duke Ihenacho. The quarterback competition will center on Dasmen Stewart, Blake Jurich and community college transfer David Fales. The running back battle will feature David Freeman, who missed most of last season with a broken arm, and Minnesota transfer DeLeon Eskridge, who has one remaining season of eligibility. Another option is Tyler Ervin, who rushed for 114 yards on 29 carries with one touchdown after being forced into duty last season, but San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre has indicated that Ervin may move back to cornerback.

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2012:

TE Ryan Otten -- The 6-foot-5 junior emerged as one of the nation's best tight ends this season and was named first-team All-Western Athletic Conference. He was second on the team in receiving yards (739) and third in receptions (52). He set a single-season school record for receiving yards by a tight end, breaking Brian Roche's record of 729 in 1995.

WR Noel Grigsby -- The sophomore receiver set a single-season school record with 89 receptions in 2011. He was first in the WAC in receptions per game (7.4) and sixth in receiving yards per game (73.8). He has 145 catches for 1,708 yards in two seasons at San Jose State and was named second-team All-WAC in 2011.

DE Travis Johnson -- This two-year starter earned first-team All-WAC honors after recording 9.5 sacks as a junior in 2011. Johnson was first in the WAC in sacks per game (0.79), third in tackles for a loss (15.5) and 25th in tackles per game (6.1).

OL David Quessenberry -- The first-team All-WAC tackle is expected to anchor an offensive line that will lose three seniors but could be improved with some key additions, including freshman Wes Schweitzer, a 6-foot-5, 278-pound tackle who redshirted last season. Quessenberry has started all 25 games over the past two seasons.

PLAYER NOTES

--DE Mohamed Marah, DE Travis Johnson and DT Pablo Garcia each earned Academic All-Western Athletic Conference honors for the third time when awards were announced Jan. 18. Twelve San Jose State players received Academic All-WAC awards, tying the Spartans for second among the conference's 38 fall sports teams.
--WR Chandler Jones underwent successful surgery to repair the broken collarbone he sustained in a season-ending victory over Fresno State.
--Freshman QB Joey Gray will not participate in spring practice due to academic reasons, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
--DT Joe Nigos will apply for a sixth year of eligibility after suffering a season-ending knee injury last season.



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