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September 2, 2011

Mailbag on the Mesa

Editor's note: Every Friday ASR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Aztecs in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisASR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on ASR's Facebook page.


Kamal: Out of these players: Skylar Spencer, Joe Rahon, Cleanthony Early and Matt Willms, who do you think commits to SDSU?

This is a tough question, because I'm not exactly a part of these guys' inner circles and don't exactly know where their heads are with colleges. But, having talked to all of them, I'd say Spencer is probably the most likely to commit out of all these guys. He's SDSU's No. 1 big man prospect, and the Aztecs are treating him like that. They're recruiting him extremely hard, and he's already on an official visit to State this weekend. He told me he could "possibly" commit if he likes what he sees this weekend, so he could actually pledge to SDSU within the next 72 hours.

Out of the others, I'd say Rahon would be the No. 2 guy to likely commit. He has offers from a shipload of schools, but when I talked to him at an AAU Tournament in Las Vegas, he really liked the idea of playing with his brother James and also liked the idea of staying close to home. We'll see.



Krish: What type of support do you believe coach Brian Dutcher has among the players? How would his accession to head coach impact recruiting?

I could not believe the amount of SDSU fans that weren't pleased to hear that Dutcher had been named "head coach-in-waiting." As I wrote in my feature on Steve Fisher's contract extension, I believe all of this deal was geared toward recruiting. The players love Dutcher. He's not a screamer, but he's not a push-over either. He has all of Fisher's traits, and perhaps the No. 1 drawing point to him is he was with Fisher during that Fab Five Michigan time.

When I talk to recruits these days about Fisher, almost all of them mention how cool it would be to play for a guy who was responsible for the Fab Five. In fact, the Aztecs' No. 1 recruit overall, Winston Shepard, has told me he loved what Fisher did for Jalen Rose, a player he compares himself too. So now when Fisher does eventually leave, SDSU can still use the "We have coaches that were part of the Fab Five," which believe it or not, is actually really big to some of these kids.

Dutcher will be fine, and the extension along with the new title will actually really help recruiting, in my opinion.



Steve: With camp over and the season just a few hours away, tell us some of your surprises on this SDSU football team.

I'm assuming this question can be interpreted in two ways: good surprises and bad ones. So I'll answer both.

For my bad surprises, I'm going to go with the young receivers. Out of Larry Clark, Jemond Hazely, Paul Pitts and Ezell Ruffin, I really thought one of them was going to have a 2010 Ronnie Hillman-like breakout performance this year, but it really doesn't look like they will. Hazely is still very green, Clark hurt his knee and Ruffin has his academic issues. Now head coach Rocky Long seems to be very fond of Pitts, but I really don't see him having a monster year. I thought it was very surprising that none of those guys stepped up and became a real threat.

As for good surprise, I'll say SDSU's secondary. If you had told me a few months ago that it would lose Brandon Davis to suspension and Josh Wade to an Achilles injury, I would have said the Aztecs might struggle back there. But Larry Parker and King Holder have done a really good job of holding down Wade's CB spot, and Gabe Lemon came out of nowhere to snag the Warrior spot, with or without Davis' suspension. So I'll say that was a pretty good surprise there.


Eric: We all know how important Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman are to this team, but can you give us an underrated MVP of this team?

Good question. With Wade's injury and Long's recent criticism of the depth at cornerback, I think Leon McFadden is more valuable than ever. He may be the Aztecs best pound-for-pound player, and some SDSU coaches believe he's the best corner in the entire Mountain West Conference. If something happens to him, and SDSU is forced to start Holder and Parker in this blitz-happy, leave-corners-on-an-island defense, the Aztecs would be in serious trouble against good quarterbacks.

Another guy I would say would be Nik Embernate. I know if something happened to him, SDSU would probably just slide Alec Johnson into his spot at guard, but I really think he makes this offensive line go. He has such a nasty streak (his teammates actually call him "nasty" as a nickname) and I really think it rubs off on the rest of this offensive line. He creates big holes for Hillman to run through, and if he's not there, who knows where this O-line goes.



Rincon: We all know our WR's are thin right now. We have one WR committed. Who is at the top of our recruiting board at WR and how many total should we bring in this class?

SDSU is looking at a bunch of receivers for the 2012 class, but its top prospects are Jonavaughn Williams, Alex Jackson, Kenny Lawler and Eric Judge. Plus the Aztecs also love Robert Lewis, who could become a slot guy if he goes to SDSU.

I would figure the Aztecs would bring in any and all of these guys and maybe a few more. Because receiver, unlike offensive line or quarterback, is a position that can be moved to different positions. For example, McFadden was recruited as a wideout, and now he's one of the best players on SDSU.


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