Tezino setting the tone on defense for the Aztecs


Raymond Gorospe

SDSU junior linebacker Kyahva Tezino looks out onto the opposing offense against Sacramento State on Sept. 8 at SDCCU Stadium.

by Aaron Tolentino, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State football junior linebacker Kyahva Tezino led the Aztecs in tackles once again during the team’s victory over Arizona State University on Sept. 15.

Make that the seventh time in the last eight games Tezino led SDSU in tackles, including all three games this season.

Tezino has made an immediate impact since being inserted into the starting lineup against the University of Hawaii with five games left last season.

Through three games this year, Tezino has 27 tackles. He led the team with 11 tackles against Stanford, seven against Sacramento State and nine against ASU.

He also leads SDSU with two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Whether it’s rushing the passer or dropping back in coverage, Tezino is making an impact all over the field.

Tezino said he is constantly watching film of himself to see his mistakes, how he can get better and capitalize on the good things he did.

“I’m watching film for about an hour or two,” Tezino said. “Watch practice every single day, every practice that we have (in order to) make sure we look at our mistakes and the good things that I did and see what I can get better at every day.”

He also said he watches talented NFL linebackers in hopes to emulate their game.

“I just watch a lot of Bobby Wagner highlight tapes,” Tezino said. “A lot of great linebackers, honestly. I try to model my game after them. Even if it’s just like watching Ray Lewis, a little bit here and there. I just try to model my game after them.”

While serving as the middle linebacker plays a role in his ability to be a constant ballhawk, Tezino still must have great ball skills and instincts to be able to disrupt opposing offenses.

The middle linebacker is front and center in the defensive side of the ball, especially in head coach Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense.

Long said Tezino possesses the instincts to make plays that have led to a great season so far.

“He’s a good player,” Long said. “Anytime you have a good player out there that reacts correctly and has instincts, they make plays… he’s having a great year so far.”

Defensive coordinator Zach Arnett broke down how playing middle linebacker sets Tezino up for success.

“When you’re in the middle of the defense, no matter where the ball goes, you’re always showing up because you’re closest to the action,” Arnett said. “By playing middle linebacker, that puts (Tezino) in a position to show up often, so you’re middle linebacker ought to be showing up in a whole bunch of tackles.”

Anchoring the heart of the Aztecs’ defense, Tezino has led SDSU to the fourth-best rushing defense in the nation, giving up a mere 46.3 rush yards per game.

The Aztecs defense held last year’s Heisman runner-up, Stanford senior running back Bryce Love, to 38 yards rushing on 18 carries on Aug. 31. Tezino was all over Love, bringing him down eight times.

Tezino’s performance against the season-opener at Stanford set the tone for his early season success.

Arnett said Tezino is the center of the defense and has shown his ability to be versatile.

“He’s done a nice job,” Arnett said. “Obviously, he’s our middle linebacker so no matter where the play goes, he’s in the middle of the defense. He has the ability to show up inside-out.”