"Depth" and a "Blue Collar Chip".
This is the 4th year at the helm for Coach Fitz Hill here at San Jose State, and he knows that it is time to increase the "win-loss" ratio for Spartan Football.
The team is up to 76 scholarships, which is up from the past number of 60. This tells you that he is building the program the right way, which is from the ground up.
Hill states that SJSU has the same amount of scholarships as high profile Universtiy of Alabama, but keep in mind that Alabama is on probation for having only 76 scholarships, so the battle is not over yet for SJSU.
The team is not the "most experienced" states Hill, but much "depth" will pay dividends according to the optimistic Hill.
Keith Burns whom was the defensive coordinator at Tulsa has joined Hill's staff.
Hill did a fantastic job of skirting the high cost of living and sticker shock nuances of the bay area, and the issues it brings to one's pocket book. But, Hill sold Burns on his philosophy of "We are here to enrich the lives of our players, and send them into the world as better people, no matter what the win-loss record looks like in the end".
The defensive line in the past heavily relied upon 6 to 7 "foundation players", but this year Hill has the luxury of working with 16 well seasoned players, which will improve the defense in 2004.
Shawn McNamarra returns from last season, and had six sacks to his credit. Eddie Brown joins the offensive line with experience, and Juan Eransom joins the squad as a true freshman to add more depth. Look out for Keith Green to be an impact as well this year.
The linebackers look improved as well according to Hill.
The secondary is where Hill feels the Spartans have the most experience, with Josh Powell being the "heart and soul" of the Spartans.
Other impact players will be Eric Wilson, Trestin George, and Gerrel Hardy.
Coach Hill looks to run the ball this year, but do not be surprised if a few trick plays happen, as Coach Hill uses this mantra due to his military style. And, the element of surprise that plays a roll in "war" itself, will be a factor at game day play calling from Hill and his staff.
The running back have alot of depth, as six foot and two inch, 215LB, Tyson Thompson of Texas may lead the way on the ground this year. But, Lance Martin also may vye for the position and is a reliable stud of a machine. Darrell Hutsona of San Diego will be hanging around, Lamar Ferguson is back from injury, and Yonus Davis to round out the running game this year.
With the longest run from scrimmage last year being only 30 yards, the above RB's should be able to break that stale record if health prevails in 2004. Look out for true freshman in Patrick Perry from Banning HS in southern california, who is the best freshman recruit in 2004 whom has 4.5 speed to boot!
The offensive line is the biggest and most athletic in years at SJSU, and the recieving corps is stacked with players like Rufus Skillern, James Jones, John Broussard, Casey Miranda, and two JC transfers which is led by Dupree Johnson.
At tight end, look out for JC transfer, Bryan Wadje, who had 7 TD's while with Hancock College.
And speaking of a schedule, the football schedule this year is one of the best SJSU has had in years. It kind of reminds you of the schedules of the late 70's and 80's!
When Hill joined the Spartans, he thought all you needed to do was roll a football onto the field, and fans would fill the stands. This was an eye opener for Hill, and he has adjusted to the "Northern California" nuances of sports, and has finally figured out what it takes to fill the stands. Marketing towards families, and increasing the wins will play a heavy part in regards to this years attendance figures.
Athletic director, Chuck Bell, is gambling on Fitz to win alot of games this year, and has given up the big pay out's in regards to body bag games in return for wins.
Thus, you see a nice schedule for SJSU not only on the road, but at home as well.
Hill states that this is the "most unified" that an SJSU squad has been in years, and there is a true family spirit amongst this years squad.
At the QB role, Dale Rodgers will most likely get the nod to lead the Spartans down the field. He is the man according to Hill, and is a blue collar guy who has a chip on his shoulder. Freshman, Adam Trafalis, will be his back up and may see some snaps this season in case of injury to Rodgers.
Hill likes Rodgers, because he carries that chip on his shoulder, and could care less what anyone else thinks about him. Hill also believes in this philosophy, and it seems as though these two have formed a special bond and relationship.
We here at SpartanThunder.com also carry a chip on our shoulder, and are proud to bring you stories like this one.
Look for more stories coming soon, and GO SPARTANS!