Arizona’s potential starting left tackle, Joe Borjon, transfers to SDSU

Joseph Borjon sets up for a block. (Credit: University of Arizona Athletics)

The short URL of the present article is:
Spread the love
Joseph Borjon on his official visit. (Credit: Joe Borjon)

Aztec Nation received more good news from the transfer portal last week. 6-foot-8, 320-pound, OT Joseph Borjon announced on Monday his intention to play for SDSU in 2024.

After starting three games for Arizona in 2023, including the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma, Borjon entered the portal during the spring window. His talents were highly sought after. Three Power Four schools – Houston, Cincinnati, and Cal – made his list of finalists, but he chose the Aztecs.

His decision shows that SDSU can still defeat bigger budgeted programs for recruits. The key is to be competitive, refuse to be scared away by obstacles, and sell SDSU to prospective players. The reason Borjon gave his pledge to the Aztecs is because head coach Sean Lewis did just that.

“I had a short visit, obviously, because I visited a lot of schools,” Borjon said when asked what stood out to him about Lewis. “And if I wanted to see something, (Lewis) took me himself to go see a practice field or something if I didn’t get to see it. He made time throughout his day. I think that’s important as a head coach doing that, making sure I’m all good with knowing what I need to know about the school.”

“Knowing that I’m (likely) headed to bigger conference schools and knowing that I may not go to SDSU just because Cal offered, Houston offered, Cincinnati offered. … You would think as a Mountain West program, maybe you don’t have the best shot at the kid, but you still, as a head coach, go show him everything as much as most programs would.”

Borjon visited America’s Finest City on April 16 and 17. He sandwiched his trip between two days in Houston and three days at Cal. That he spent a week seeing the best P4 money can buy and chose SDSU says a lot about the Aztecs’ standing in the college football world. It also is informative about Borjon.

Joe Borjon

He was born into an athletic family, the middle of three boys. His older brother played baseball, and Borjon followed in his footsteps. After initially giving up football as a 12-year-old to focus on America’s past-time, Borjon put the pads on again as a junior at Walnut High School. Despite possessing a high-80s fastball, he realized there weren’t many big leaguers his size.

Credit: Joe Borjon

The late switch reignited his love for the gridiron but also limited his opportunities to play at the next level. With no scholarship offers, he attended nearby Mt. San Antonio Community College (Mt. Sac) where he was teammates with current Aztec DT Tupu Alualu.

“Tupu is a great player and great competitor,” Borjon said. “That’s a guy I played at Mt. Sac with and I know he’s going to bring it every play.”

Mt. Sac is one of the premier JCs in the nation. As a true freshman, Borjon won second-team Central League, National Division all-conference recognition. His play at Mt. Sac earned him offers from Western New Mexico, Stephen F. Austin, Austin Peay, and Missouri State

Instead of going the FCS route, he walked on to Arizona and, shortly after arriving on campus, earned a scholarship. After not playing in 2022, he made an impact in 2023.

Nine Wildcats entered the portal on the first day after Jedd Fisch announced he was taking the job at Washington in January. Borjon elected to stay in Tucson to give incoming coach Brent Brennan and his staff a chance. He said that even though he competed with the first team in Spring Camp, he needed a better fit.

“I would say mostly the whole coaching staff change,” Borjon replied when asked about his decision to transfer. “I think that’s a big deal for a program. When one coach leaves, you can get past that. I think the whole coaching staff changing is a different culture and everything to a program. And I thought I would like to explore my options and look for a better offense.”

I'd like this amount to  

Fit with the Aztecs

Under-recruited his entire life, Borjon was suddenly a hot commodity. From 6 am to nearly midnight every day, potential suitors reached out. Borjon admitted the attention felt good. His journey from nobody to somebody, though, taught him to see through sales tactics, mirages, and insincerities to find substance.

“(SDSU) was not sugarcoating anything,” Borjon said. “It was more get to the point. It was more upfront and honest. You can tell they’re being genuine about it. You can tell they have a lot of passion towards football. (Offensive line) coach Mike Schmidt has a great background with o-linemen and getting them to the league. Coach Lewis runs a great offense. It was a no-brainer to come to San Diego State and play for them.”

Credit: Joe Borjon

During about an hour-long film session, Lewis and Schmidt broke down Borjon’s Arizona film, giving him a detailed and honest evaluation of his game. While other programs told him what he wanted to hear, the Aztecs showed him their plan for his development.

“I’d say the visit was great,” Borjon explained. “The coaching staff, coach Mike Schmidt and coach Lewis, really broke down my film, taught me how to develop myself and how they would develop me as a human being and as a player. And I thought that was great. I thought it was everything I could ask for in the program. The culture with coach Lewis coming in is going to be awesome. And I’m excited to go win.”

Borjon described Schmidt as very technical in his approach with specific goals for his athletes to accomplish. He believes the dominant lines of Schmidt’s first tenure on The Mesa will be reborn under Lewis.

The talented offensive tackle enters a room filled with great competition. LT Christian Jones and RT Nate Willians were the presumed starters following spring. In the last week, Lewis added Borjon and Nicholas Green to the mix, giving a legitimate two-deep that should push each other the rest of the offseason.

On tape, Borjon’s size leaps out. His long arms and strength give him advantages at the point of attack. He enjoys run blocking a little more than passing blocking but takes pride in all areas of his game. He has terrific feet and can play on an island with edge rushers.

Whatever role he fills in 2024, he will have support at Snapdragon Stadium. Proximity to his La Puente home figured prominently in his decision. Instead of having to drive seven-plus hours to watch him play in Arizona, his family and friends can be in San Diego in under two hours.

“It’s a lot easier for my mom and dad to get out there and all my boys who want to come out and watch me play instead of having to watch on TV,” Borjon added. “I mean, that’s cool, too, but it’s different when you’re in the stands and you’re playing for somebody that are in the stands watching.”

His parents dutifully made the trek to Tucson every home game unless his younger brother had a basketball tournament that same weekend. Staying close to home, he explained, helps the family stay connected.

“I can visit the little brother. The older brother can come visit. And those are the two that keep me going,” Borjon added.

There is no question that SDSU is better with Borjon on their team. More than just adding an experienced player from a P4 school with two years of eligibility, the intangibles he brings will spread throughout the team.

He only spent a couple of weeks in the limelight as the coveted recruit before choosing the Aztecs and returning to the grind of improving his craft. Like all junior college players, he competes with an edge to show the world what he’s known all along, that he belongs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *