Ashdon Wnetrzak’s gratitude gave him insight into SDSU

Ashdon Wnetrack on his official visit. (Credit: Ashdon Wnetrack)

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Credit: Ashdon Wnetrzak

After an interview or the publishing of an article, it is common for athletes to thank a writer for their effort. Far less common is the approach SDSU commit Ashdon Wnetrzak (the Polish surname is pronounced Win-Trick) took.

A day before the scheduled conversation that gave birth to this article, Wnetrzak, a rising senior at Sierra Canyon High School, preemptively called to express his gratitude. “I just called to say thank you for noticing me, setting up the interview, and for the article.” The quick exchange blossomed into a pattern. 

Throughout the subsequent chat about his commitment, Wnetrzak showed that he views the world with a lens of gratitude. With it, he sees what less appreciative people miss. Ultimately, it was SDSU’s attention to detail that elevated them in his eyes over his other finalists, San Jose State, Oregon, Maryland, and Memphis. 

“It was one of the best memories for me, I would say, of my life,” Wnetrzak said when asked to describe his official visit. “They really had hospitality. They took their time to show me the school, which I love. From the beginning, we had a campus tour, and I felt like their school could relate to my school, Sierra Canyon. I felt very connected to the teacher (Academic Advisor and Learning Specialist), Ms. Kelli (Magargal). I love SDSU (and) the area around it. One word I would say for the trip: it was wonderful.”

The globalized world is an ever-evolving movement between innovation and duplication. When a person or company creates a more efficient technique, the rest of the industry copies that insight. Take fast-food restaurants as an example. Across different companies and a host of franchisees, orders are taken on the customer’s right, and food is given out on the left. This global technique did not happen by accident. It was discovered as the most efficient way to serve large amounts of people quickly, and everyone copied it. 

Recruiting high school athletes is no different. Every school is seeking the best practices to copy at their institution. Photoshoots, campus tours, and fine dining are the norm. The best recruiters aren’t the innovators but the ones who can identify the new techniques and put them into practice. 

Credit: (Ashdon Wnetrzak)

With itineraries more or less the same, schools distinguish themselves by the quality of their facilities and the people involved in the program. Infrastructure is quantitative and evident. High character in people is qualitative and easily missed. Wnetrzak’s attitude allowed him to experience the difference at SDSU.

“One thing that SDSU did was show me every little part of their school, from academics to football to financial aid to my living area,” Wnetrzak explained. “When I had gone (on an official visit) to San Jose (State), they showed me a campus tour, but they didn’t take me into any building, any teaching advisors. Not to throw shade on San Jose, I’m just showing the detail of what San Diego State did to get me to commit and what stood out to me.” 

Since his hire as head coach in December, Sean Lewis has carried a wave of momentum that has lasted for seven months. In distinguishing his tenure from his predecessor, Lewis has accomplished the same tasks with greater enthusiasm. 

Without exciting wins and higher attendance in the fall, the positivity around the program will tarnish. For now, Lewis and his staff have passed another test in recruiting their first full class in San Diego. A week ago, the Class of 2025 had two members. It’s grown by eleven since then.   

“He’s a great guy,” Wnetrzak said in describing Lewis. “You can tell he was brought up very well. He’s a very good man. Love his energy. One thing that attracted me to him as a player is how seriously he takes it. It’s not even just that; he incorporates having fun and being disciplined at the same time. I feel like that’s what does it for me. I feel I’m going to be built as a man plus a football player.”

Projecting an offensive lineman is more challenging than other positions because true freshmen are not ready for the grind of a college football game. They can win individual drills, maybe even a sequence of plays, but to be mentally and physically consistent for 60 minutes, game after game, is nearly impossible without experience.

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Development, then, will be key to Wnetrzak reaching his NFL ceiling. He is already headed in the right direction.

Wnetrzak weighed 372 pounds in December. Even at 6-foot-8, that is far too large, especially in Lewis’ uptempo attack. In the past seven months, working with former NFL lineman Leo Kolomatangi, he has shed over 30 pounds and plans to be at 325 by the time he comes to SDSU. In remaking his body, he has cut out fast food in favor of lean proteins and healthy carbs.    

Credit: Ashdon Wnetrzak

With a lighter frame, the qualities that make him a sought-after prospect should be accented even more. He moves very well already and uses his size to his advantage. Despite his affable approach off the field, he has a mean streak on it. 

“Ashdon is a young man who has worked so hard for this moment, I am so proud of him,” Sierra Canyon head coach Jonathan Ellinghouse said. “He has grown so much as an athlete and person during our time together. The sky is the limit for this kid, and I know he will work tirelessly to achieve success. SDSU is getting a good one.”

How early he competes for time will be interesting because he has the physical ability to impact the depth chart as an underclassman. The Aztecs might have to wait to see him on the field, but his effect in the locker room will be apparent right away. His appreciation for life is infectious. 

Sierra Canyon won SDSU’s second passing tournament a few weeks ago. Wnetrzak made the trip to campus with them on June 14 and 15 to support his teammates. He participated in the Aztecs’ skills camp the following day before enjoying his official visit from June 19-21. During that window, his gratitude allowed him to see enough of the program to commit. 

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