SDSU football gets big in the trenches with class of 2016 recruits

by Ryan Posner, Sports Editor

Looking at who San Diego State football added to its team Feb. 3 on National Signing Day, it’s no secret in what direction the team is going.

The Aztecs have made their living running the ball, and it looks like that’s what the future has in store as well.

With junior running back Donnel Pumphrey returning next year and backs like sophomores Rashaad Penny and Marcus Stamps and freshman Juwan Washington for the future, recruiting coordinator Tony White, head coach Rocky Long and the rest of the staff put an emphasis on getting big talented lineman to block for these running backs.

Two names to keep an eye on are offensive linemen Yasir Durant (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and Douglas Tucker II (Dallas, Texas).

Durant, who comes in at a whopping 6-foot-7, 345 pounds, was ranked as a three-star recruit by ESPN, and Tucker was ranked as the 13th-best offensive tackle in Texas.

“These guys are a physical group,” White said. “You look at these offensive lineman and defensive lineman and they’re pretty physical in the trenches and that’s exactly what coach Long wants. That’s our identity, that’s our mantra.”

To make sure that identity stays that way, the team locked up three-star running back Chase Jasmin (Westlake High) to give the running back group some depth when Pumphrey departs after next season.

“(Jasmin is) in the same class they are,” Long said, referring to the four running backs already on the roster.

But they all run with different styles, which is something Long favors.

“You throw a different style in there and it kind of messes with the defense,” he said.

Jasmin was ranked as the eighth-best running back in California by Scout and chose SDSU over Power Five schools like University of Arizona, Oregon State, University of Washington and Washington State.

The Aztecs’ success under Long, not just last season, was a factor in netting recruits that the school has lost out on in the past.

“I think it’s mostly consistency,” Long said. “Those kids want to go someplace where you’re going to win. They want to go someplace where you’re going to win bowl games. They want to go someplace where you have a true chance to win a championship.”

Two players not on the Aztecs’ signing list are defensive end Danny Bender (Valhalla High) and quarterback Lucas Johnson (Mt. Carmel High), who both decommitted from the team within the last month after verbally committing.

Long was not pleased with that and what seems to be a common theme currently with recruiting

“It makes you feel bad sometimes because basically they’ve lied to you. If we did the same thing to them, offering a kid a scholarship for six months and then four or five days before signing I called him up and said, ‘Guess what, I don’t have a scholarship anymore.’ I mean we’d be raked over the coals,” he said.

“For some reason it’s OK for a kid to be committed to you for six months and then five days before he can call you up and says, ‘I’m decommitting.’

“And everybody thinks that’s all right. That’s not all right. That’s not the way the world should work. If you give your word, you give your word.”

Long and the rest of the 2015 MW champion Aztecs begin spring practice Tuesday, Feb. 22.