Aztecs beginning to feel watch list love

by Antonio Morales

The first bowl victory since 1969 and first winning season since 1998 are still paying dividends for the San Diego State football team.

The success enjoyed by the Aztecs last season put the country on notice and respect has been shown to the team this offseason.

Sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman, senior quarterback RyanLindley, senior linebacker Miles Burris and senior kicker Abelado Perez have all received attention from many award watch lists.

Hillman, who was a freshman All-American and ran for 1,532 yards to go along with 17 touchdowns, was named to the Doak Walker, Walter Camp and Maxwell Award Watch Lists.

Lindley is a candidate for the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award. The four-year starter also received high praise from NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. this offseason. Kiper listed him as the top senior quarterback in the nation.
Lindley knows even though he is in the running for individual awards, he wouldn’t be in this position without the help of his teammates.

“I look at it as more of a team thing, not an individual level,” Lindley said. “I’m confident in my skills but I know we wouldn’t get the same recognition if we were losing.”

Perez represents the special teams portion of the team that was named to a watch list, as he is in the running for the Lou Groza Award after he cashed in on 17 of his 22 field goal attempts a year ago.

Burris is the only defensive player on the team who received award consideration. The linebacker received attention from the Bronko Nagurski, Rotary Lombardi and Butkus Award Watch Lists.

Burris led the team in tackles (80), tackles for loss (20) and sacks (9.5) last year. He is the first Aztec to be named to all three lists since former SDSU linebacker and current Jacksonville Jaguar Kirk Morrison.

Like Lindley, Burris gives credit to his teammates for his success.

“It feels great, it’s definitely a big honor,” Burris said. “But the majority of it deals with the people around me. I’m fortunate enough to play in a great scheme that allows me to make plays. I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”