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October 21, 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.

Rick: Now that we have some extra time until the next game was wondering if you could give us an assessment of next year's quarterback race. Are Adam Dingwell and Jake Bernards going to be backups to Chad Jeffries or is Dingwell going to be the guy?

This is by far and away the No. 1 storyline once SDSU finishes its season. When Ryan Lindley leaves, this is going to be all we talk about for the ensuing six or seven months.

Dingwell will almost certainly be penciled in as the starter on opening day of spring ball. He'll be in his third year, he's already listed as the backup to Lindley, and I know Brady Hoke absolutely loved him. He and some of the other coaches on the old staff loved his Texas gunslinger mentality and loved talking about him. Something happened over the summer however, because he did not look very good in training camp. So much so, head coach Rocky Long still hasn't officially named him the No. 2 quarterback, constantly saying he and Jake Bernards never really separated from each other. But he provides SDSU with scrambling ability, and next season when the Aztecs have to replace three starters on the offensive line, that could be necessary.

In my opinion, I still think Jeffries will end up being the guy, though. I love the ball he throws, and the only knock on him is his small frame and his inexperience. But if he shows poise and moxie in spring ball, I think you'd be hard pressed not to give him a try. Committed QB Matt Morin is also an option, although changing from that offense he runs at Chaparral High to the big-boy Andy Ludwig system will probably be too much for a true freshman. We'll see how it all plays out, and we'll definitely be covering it for you.


Josh: There's so much talk about Ronnie Hillman leaving after this year, what's your take on it all?

My take is very similar to Marshall Faulk's take. If Hillman is guaranteed a top pick, probably somewhere in the first two and a half rounds, I say he should go. If he's not guaranteed that, then he should stay.

The problem with Hillman is he's small. The only running back I can think of in the last few years that looks like Hillman and got drafted high is Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson. And the only reason he got drafted that high (the first round) is because he ran a 4.24 40-yard dash at the combine. Hillman's fast, but I don't think he's 4.24 fast. I think as much as the NFL uses small running backs (see Johnson, Darren Sproles, Ray Rice, etc.) they don't generally draft them high because of the injury risk. Hillman has already told me earlier this week he's been playing sore and a little banged up this season after all the hits he takes during games, and this is with the extra 20 or so pounds he put on in the offseason.

Personally, I just can't see him being guaranteed a top 60 pick at this point, especially given his performances against defenses with NFL-caliber players in TCU and Michigan. But if he stays another year, puts on another 15-30 pounds, and repeats the magical run he had last year and this year, then I think he most likely foregoes his senior year and gets the guarantee he's looking for.


Robert: Do you know around how many scholarships State has to give in football this year?

I keep forgetting to throw this in the Short Shots in the notes this week. Long told me SDSU has 19 scholarship seniors who are set to graduate, and he's also factoring in losing a few scholarship guys to injuries and academic issues, because no matter how much he hopes it doesn't happen, it usually does. So with that, he said he's planning on giving 25 scholarships this season, saying he's "almost sure" the 2012 class will have 25 signees on it. SDSU already has 10 commitments, so there's 15 more future Aztecs somewhere out there.


Steven: Matt Willms and Ben Carter cancelled visits? What is going on with the Aztecs' recruiting? What are they going to do with the last two scholarships?

Willms and Carter cancelled their visits about a month ago. Not too sure why that was news this week. Willms has posted on both his Twitter and Facebook page that he's planning on committing this weekend, and a source close to the situation told me UNLV will likely be the pick. A report surfaced this week that Willms has backed off his statement that he's going to commit this weekend, so we'll see where that goes, but it looks like he'll be a Rebel. As for Carter, he got scared off a bit when Skylar Spencer committed to SDSU, which is why he decided to cancel his visit.

As for the final two scholarships, as each day passes, it's looking more and more like it will be Winston Shepard or bust. SDSU doesn't just want to throw out its last two schollies because it has them. If Shepard goes elsewhere, I believe the Aztecs would rather save them for possible transfers, rather than give them to average players. Because SDSU will need a scholarship available if a 6-foot-10, 210-pound, No. 1-ranked 2011 center decides he wants to transfer to Montezuma Mesa, right?


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