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December 30, 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.

Krish: Rumor has it that Ronnie Hillman signed with an agent. Do you have any information that can confirm or deny?

I saw where this whole rumor started, and it seems to be from a fairly connected outlet, so I think there might actually be some teeth to this story. Although I can't find anybody to confirm or deny at this point. San Diego State football coaches and players will not be made available to the media until January (at the earliest, we were told earlier this month), so getting information hasn't exactly been easy.

I did have one source close to the situation tell me, "wouldn't surprise me" if Hillman did indeed sign with an agent, or at the very least have intentions of heading to the draft. So right now, if I were a betting man, I would guess Hillman is on his way out. We'll see, of course, and we'll follow the story for you as best we can in these next few weeks.


Rob: I keep hearing that coach Rick Court's departure was a mutual one and that the players didn't respond as they had hoped to his style of coaching. Have you heard anything like this or gotten the feeling while your time around the players and coaches?

This is a story that I had heard a few whispers about in the season, but they were never loud enough that I actually thought he would leave at the end of the year. Like I've said in the past, it's nearly impossible to tell how good a strength and conditioning coach is or isn't (unless his players are as skinny or as out of shape as I am). Normally, and I've written this before, my barometer for a successful strength and conditioning coach is how many players you have with nagging sprains, strains, pulls and tears throughout the season. Because if guys are dealing with those types of injuries, it tells me they're not stretching right or not doing the right lifting to strengthen certain problem areas.

And while SDSU was certainly beat up like a piñata at the end of the season, guys weren't dealing with those types of injuries (it was mostly breaks, cracks and full-contact tears), so I figured he was doing fine. But when news broke that he had left, SDSU redshirt sophomore linebacker Andrew Feaster tweeted, "I miss Wellman…" As in former strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman. Which, in my opinion, speaks some volumes about the general feeling of Court amongst the players - that perhaps he wasn't as good as Wellman. Either way, I do get the feeling that maybe this was in fact a mutual move and SDSU wasn't terribly sad to see him go.


Ernie: Can James Johnson play a running type game or is he a slow white guy?

For background on Virginia transfer Johnson, check out the story I posted on his visit to SDSU earlier this week. Now, to answer the question, Johnson is a running-type of big man. When I chatted with him at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic a few days ago, he told me that directly, saying an up-tempo style of play will factor into his decision in where he wants to transfer.

Also, his body type backs up that statement. He is 6 feet 9, 220 pounds, but he has a very sleek build. It would be hard to imagine him on the court as some big stiff moseying his way down the court, and that's a huge reason why SDSU obviously likes him. The Aztecs need big men, and ones that can run are huge pluses for Steve Fisher and the crew.



Jeff: USC receiver Brice Butler tweeted that he was transferring to SDSU. What's the deal?

This is turning into a fairly juicy saga. He tweeted on Thursday, "I'm transferrin to san diego state to do my last year of ball there.. I just graduated from SC." Then on Friday, he backpedaled from that statement, tweeting, "Did someone hack into my twitter?? I don't member makin that tweet.. Like fa real fa real." And from what I can see, he deleted that first tweet entirely.

Regardless, I've been hearing that there certainly is bite to this whole story as well. I know Kansas is in the picture and I know SDSU is as well, but I've heard the Aztecs are the leader in the clubhouse no matter what he tweets. As always, though, this one will take some time to sort out. But AztecSportsReport.com will have you covered on it from every angle when things do start shifting.


Aztec05: What's the latest on Ryan Katz? And are there any other graduated senior quarterbacks looking to transfer as well?

This is the all-rumor Mailbag on the Mesa today, huh? Katz, like Butler, can play immediately if he did transfer to SDSU because he would have already graduated by the time the 2012 season rolls around. Now they both would need a special waiver, but it seems likely they would be granted it. As for if he's coming to SDSU, there's still not much to update on that. He has to decide if he wants to go to SDSU, and the Aztecs have to decide if they want to bring him in or not and potentially risk losing a guy like Matt Morin. Again, I fully expect ASR to keep you posted on any of this information if / when it breaks.

As for other graduated senior quarterbacks, I really don't think so. I think the Aztecs were looking at some other guys, but decided to go another way. Morin, Chad Jeffries, Jake Bernards and Adam Dingwell aren't necessarily a bad quartet to have a competition with when it comes down to it.


Pete: What are you hearing from potential recruits about our move the Big West? Do you think it's deterring any?

I've been hearing that the move has actually had some negative effects on SDSU recruiting (no huge surprise here), but it's clearly not that terrible. I've been covering high school basketball all week and not one kid told me, "I'd never go to SDSU because of the Big West." In fact, most of them told me the Aztecs are one of their favorite schools (notably 2013 three-star forward Dakarai Allen).

I think it will ultimately cost them on some recruits, but for now, SDSU can land some seriously good players and not think twice about it.


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