Shankle decides to walk-on with Aztecs

Every year four-year programs are looking for players to fill in gaps in their roster heading into the summer and this year Saddleback C Damien Shankle (6-2, 310) reaped the benefits of that uncertainty as he received a walk-on offer from a Mountain West school. He updated today on where he's headed and his prospects for earning some early playing time.

"I've been talking to San Diego State a lot recently and I decided to walk-on there," Shankle told on Thursday afternoon. "They have a couple of offensive lineman who are going to be ineligible so they needed someone who can come right in and compete for playing time so that's what I'm expecting to do."

The Aztecs' linebackers coach, William Inge, was the first coach to get in contact with Shankle because he handles the area that includes Saddleback, but the coach that Shankle needed to speak with the most was the man who will eventually be his position coach.

"Coach (Jonathan) Himebauch and I have spoken a couple of times and he said he likes his offensive lineman to be able to play anywhere so they want me to come in and work out all over the line," Shankle said. "I think they want me at center, because that's where I've been playing and where I'm most comfortable, but I can play anywhere they need me to."

Shankle was instrumental in leading Saddleback to a third-ranked finish in the JC standings this year and said he and the offense worked really hard in the offseason to get the team focused and ready for what turned out to be a big season.

"We finished 11-1 and we had a terrific year," Shankle said in an interview with back in January. "It was a lot of fun and we really came together as a team."

As a freshman in 2005, Shankle struggled at times with his duties at center, but he said some very hard work over the offseason paid off.

"I was a little erratic with my shotgun snaps as a freshman," Shankle said. "During the offseason I really worked hard on getting it back quickly but also placing it in the quarterback's hands so he doesn't really have to watch the ball.

"It seems like a minor thing, but it can mean the difference in if a quarterback is on time with his throw or not. You'd be surprised."

Shankle will have three years to play two and hopes to earn a scholarship following the season.

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