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March 30, 2012

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. Staff Writer Agustin Gonzalez is filling in for Edward Lewis this week.


Chad: Agustin, what positions are SDSU looking for in football recruiting this year and who are the big recruits?

With San Diego State's senior class being so small, next year's recruiting class will be significantly smaller than the 2012 class, in which SDSU brought in 24 new guys (if you count the transfers who enrolled this semester).

If all the expected players stay on the team, make grades and no one transfers out, the Aztecs are looking at about a 14 or 15-player recruiting class. We know that SDSU is specifically looking for defensive backs, linebackers and more offensive linemen.

With Leon McFadden, Josh Wade, Robert Gregorio and A.C. Colquitt in their final years of eligibility, and the 3-3-5 defense's overall emphasis on defensive backs, SDSU is looking for some impact DB's. The high-profile targets are Chris Hawkins, Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman, but Hawkins will decide between USC or Stanford this weekend, and his B2G teammates Willis and Goodman are seriously considering USC as well. More realistic targets are Chris Seisay (who currently has SDSU in his top three), Poway's Derek Babiash and Kalan Montgomery, who the Aztecs just offered last week.

Big linebacker targets are package-deal Rancho Cucamonga twins Viliami Latu and A.J. Latu (only SDSU and Hawaii have offered them both), Stephen Van Hook and of course Ben Waterhouse from American Samoa, who is very interested in the Aztecs.

I'm going to catch several of these guys up in Los Angeles this weekend, so stay tuned for more coverage on some of SDSU's biggest targets.

PasadenaAztecFan: Will Vizzi be the first walk-on to receive a scholarship? How do coaches McDaniel and Long feel about his spring game performance and overall during the 14 practices?

While Rocky Long won't give this question a straight answer until sometime in late July or early August when everything gets sorted out with grades and incoming players and he does decide which walk-ons will receive scholarships, at this point I definitely think so.

Tim Vizzi was the breakout player of spring camp. Despite his diminutive stature at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Vizzi showed a knack for getting separation from his defender and getting open, traits that were sorely lacking with SDSU's receivers last season. Not to mention, when he was open he caught the ball, too. Players and coaches alike were impressed by Vizzi, and Long even praised him for making plays every time the Aztecs scrimmaged.

That being said, what you see in spring is not always what you see in fall, and things could change. But at this point I think Vizzi will have the most impact of any walk-on next year.

Rick: What's the probability that the three transfers, O'Brien, Polee and Johnson are in the regular starting lineup this coming season?

It's funny, one of the most popular questions we get a week has to do with next year's basketball starting lineup, and every week it's the same answer: We don't know for sure, and neither does Steve Fisher. We spoke with a member of the basketball program a few weeks ago, and he joked that the coaching staff might just pull names out of a hat to find a starting lineup.

I think J.J. O'Brien has a great shot at starting next year. He's consistently been one of the best players on the team in practice this season, and can be the prototypical do-a-little-bit-of-everything, glue guy. Dwayne Polee started as a freshman at St. John's, but has the same type of high-wire game as Mountain West player of the year Jamaal Franklin, and I don't think he beats out Franklin for a starting spot. The real wildcard, however, is James Johnson. At 6-foot-11, he'll be the tallest payer on the team, but he won't be available until mid-December. If SDSU is cruising through its non-conference schedule and notching win after win without Johnson, I don't see Fisher (who admits he's a "creature of habit") inserting Johnson into the starting five unless the Aztecs hit a big slump and need a bigger presence down low.

To me, a bigger question than who will the start the games is who will finish them. These guys will all get playing time and even starter-type minutes depending on the opponent and the situation, but with the game on the line and time running out, I'm more interested to see who Fisher trusts to be on the floor in the final five minutes of the game than who plays the first five.

Eric: Now that Zuma has been put down for good, what were your thoughts in him?

Due to the sheer volume of Zuma questions I've been asked, I felt I had to give my two cents on this one, as it's been really amusing to see how controversial Zuma has become.

I understand where the SDSU administration was coming from when they wanted to create a "supplemental character" that was geared more towards the kids, and at first I was okay with it. I thought Zuma would just show up to fan-based events to interact with the kids, and stick to doing goofy antics in the stands during games. But over time, after all the outlandish outfits, antics on the football field/basketball court, performing with the dance team, etc., it was getting pretty ridiculous, and I could see how fans would have an issue with Zuma stealing the Aztec Warrior's thunder. I neither loved nor hated the mascot, but in my mind getting rid of Zuma was the right thing to do.

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