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April 6, 2012

Mailbag on the Mesa

Editor's note: Every Friday ASR Publisher Agustin Gonzalez will answer some questions from fans about the Aztecs in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to augonzal711@yahoo.com, @Agustin_ASR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on ASR's Facebook page.

aztec05: Anyone else find it interesting that we're going after more JC o-line help (tackles it appears) when we just signed 2 in this last recruiting cycle in addition to a couple of stud highschool linemen? What does that say about the current tackles on the team?

With SDSU planning to start a converted tight end at left tackle and shuffling bodies in and out at right tackle in spring camp like it was a game of musical chairs, there's no doubt the offensive line (specifically right tackle) is the biggest question mark on the team.

Although Bryce Quigley looked really good at left tackle and will enter fall camp as the starter, it remains to be seen how he'll do in game action next season when he's not facing a defensive line that was replacing all of its starters. Zack Dilley, who ended the spring as the starting right tackle, hasn't seen game-action yet in his college career, and the rest of the current tackles on the team are inexperienced as well.

With the Aztecs moving to the Big East in a year, that could pose a big problem, especially if the offensive line play is underwhelming this season. SDSU does have Justin Aysse and Terry Poole coming in, but it remains to be seen how they'll fit in or if they're even better options than what SDSU has right now.

If the stud high school linemen coming in aren't ready for primetime in a year, bringing in a high-profile, mauling JuCo lineman or two (like a Braxton Isaac) next year is not a bad idea. At best, It will add a player more experienced and physically able to step in and contribute right away, and at worst it will add depth at the tackle position in case a starter goes down with injury or struggles.

Chris: What kind of impact will the games against Syracuse and UCLA next year have on recruiting?

With the games against UCLA in the Wooden Classic, against Syracuse to open the season on the USS Midway, and not to mention the Diamond Head Classic (and the shot to maybe play Arizona) in Hawaii, SDSU's out-of-conference schedule is shaping up to be pretty darn good. Recruits see games like that, with the chance to play the blue-bloods of college basketball, on an aircraft carrier and a prestigious event like the Wooden Classic, no less, and there's no doubt it helps recruiting.

If you look at the move to the Big West that's on the horizon, scheduling these types of games is all the more important. It shows that SDSU has built up enough national prestige that the Syracuse's and UCLA's of the basketball world aren't afraid to play them anymore because if they lose, it's not necessarily a "bad loss" whereas it would be considered that way four or five years ago. Having a formidable out-of-conference slate is going to be all the more important when the Aztecs move to the Big West, and scheduling these big games next year gets the ball rolling.

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bulldawg0811: Is going to Big East helping our recruiting or is it the same as being in the Mountain West?

The full extent of this won't be known until the 2013 class is signed and sealed, but, like the Wooden Classic and the Battle on the Midway are doing for basketball, so far it's definitely helping.

As is the case with most recruits I talk to, playing in a big conference is always near the top of their list when they make a decision. SDSU is going after a high number of big recruits early (four and three-star kids), and so far the response to the Big East move has been good. Here's what just some of the recruits have been saying:

Chris Seisay (American Canyon athlete): "Now I like how they're moving into the Big East so it's more competition, and I like to play against good competition. I don't want to go to an easy conference where there's not a lot of exposure; I want to go to a school that will expose me and give me a good playing environment."

Charles Okonkwo (Fontana Summit cornerback): "I like to play against top competition and take the best man out because I know it will only make me better. So playing in the Big East, yeah, I like that."

If the Aztecs can put together another eight or nine-win season and go to another bowl game, the 2013 class could be big.

Doug: Give us your early predictions for who's going to have huge seasons on the football team.

Before his shoulder injury, Brice Butler looked like the real deal in spring camp. He was pulling down every pass thrown his way, and consistently looked like the biggest playmaker on the team. SDSU was lacking a Vincent Brown or DeMarco Sampson-like impact receiver last season, and it showed. You saw what effect that had on Ryan Lindley, who will most likely be a mid-round NFL draft pick, and the offense as a whole. Butler can be the type of dynamic No. 1 receiver that the Aztecs were so sorely lacking last year, and is my early pick for Offensive MVP - even with such a stacked receiving corps.

If Josh Wade can return from his Achilles injury and come anywhere close to having the type of season that Larry Parker did last year (seven interceptions, 65 tackles), then teams will be forced to throw to Leon McFadden on the opposite side of the field. Teams avoided McFadden last year and Parker took advantage, so if Wade and the safeties are solid it will force opponents to challenge McFadden, and he has the ability to make them pay. He's my early pick for Defensive MVP, but if the secondary struggles next year, look out for Jake Fely at middle linebacker. Fely wore down towards the end of the season with injuries, but had a great first half of the year and the added pounds he put on in the offseason will help him be more durable.

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