As it currently stands, SDSU enters 2022 with a talented yet young and unproven group of quarterbacks on its projected roster.
Joining junior Jalen Mayden and redshirt freshman Will Haskell in time for Spring Camp will be true freshmen Kyle Crum and Liu Aumavae. In addition to those four scholarship quarterbacks, walk-ons Baylor Horning and Marshall Eucker will be looking to stand out at the position.
Could there be one more signal-caller joining their ranks?
Former La Jolla Country Day star Braxton Burmeister entered the transfer portal less than two weeks ago. Aztec social media and message boards have since wondered if the former four-star recruit would want to return home. The idea certainly has some symmetry to it.
As Burmeister’s star rose during high school, Aztec Nation coveted his services. Fans’ hopes were raised when Burmeister was spotted at an SDSU spring game. Their dreams were shattered, however, when the La Jolla native committed to the University of Arizona in 2016. Burmeister never played for the Wildcats, instead enrolling at the University of Oregon in 2017. If he joins the Aztecs for the 2022 season, his first collegiate game in San Diego would be against the same Arizona program that started his journey away from America’s Finest City.
Aside from some imagined pull from playing in front of his family and friends, does Burmeister have any real interest in coming home?
“I haven’t spoken to Brax about this, so I’m not sure,” Tyler Hales, Burmeister’s high school coach, told EVT. “I do know that he’d been considering coming back to San Diego before going to VT, so I wouldn’t be surprised if SDSU is in the cards.”
With the nugget that Burmeister pondered returning home following his first transfer, hope springs eternal that this third time around, Burmeister will finally make his way to the Mesa.
“It depends what’s out there,” SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said on the first day of the early signing period. “We can all get really excited about the transfer portal. We have to do a good job of finding someone who fits our style, who fits our program. I think that’s really important.”
Would Burmeister be a fit with SDSU? SDSU recruits players who embody their three foundational characteristics: personal integrity, toughness, and a passion for football. According to Hales, Burmeister would be the perfect Aztec.
“I’ve known him since he was in third grade and taught him in third, fifth, and eighth (grades),” Hales said. “Really good kid, awesome family. He is as hard a worker as I’ve ever been around. Really caring and loyal young man to his family and friends.”
One of the oddities of the sports world is the different reactions when coaches and players leave the programs they are at. When Hoke left SDSU in 2011, he was chasing his “dream job,” but if a player backs out of his commitment or transfers from a program, they are criticized. From a distance, Burmeister appeared flippant in his decisions, needing only ten days from the time Oregon offered to decide to leave the Wildcats at the recruiting altar. That perception could not be further from the truth.
“I’ve never been around a harder worker in my 15 plus years of coaching,” Hales said. “He takes so much pride in everything he does – throwing, lifting, running, scheming.” Hale added extra emphasis to the “everything.”
His first start came as a true freshman for the Ducks. In place of the injured Justin Herbert, Burmeister led Oregon against the undefeated and 11th ranked Washington State Cougars. Throughout the game, the young signal-caller took punishing blow after punishing blow. He finished with 15 rushing attempts for -4 yards in a 33-10 loss. Unfazed by the moment, he competed well, finishing with 145 yards passing and a touchdown on a perfectly thrown ball to tight end Jacob Breeland. His passing total in his first career game was better than SDSU QBs mustered in five of their contests this past season.
“He was always a very mature ballplayer,” Hales said. “I think everyone saw his toughness on display this season at Tech. In four years as our starting QB, he missed one practice and three plays in a game.”
“It’s been fun seeing him continue to refine his game at such a high level. He’s continued to be a smart QB in knowing when to scramble, take a shot, or throw a ball away. It’s also been nice to see him learn to slide or get out of bounds!”
Love of Football
“We have to get guys here early in the spring, be here during winter conditioning,” Hoke said. “If I’m the (transfer) quarterback, I’ve got to have the respect of the rest of the guys on the football team, and I’ve got to earn that respect by how I indoctrinate myself to the football team. The best way to do it is to kick ass when you’re in that winter conditioning program.”
By all accounts, Burmeister is a workout warrior. One of the best athletes on every team he has been on. He is known as someone who relishes grueling workouts that push him beyond his limits. His intense passion for the game often comes across as elite competitiveness.
In high school, Hales would intentionally stack the deck against Burmeister by calling “phantom penalties” or whistle a play dead with an “iffy sack.” It forced Burmeister to respond to adversity, but if it ever cost him a victory, the loss lingered. He rose to every challenge Hales could throw at him, endearing himself to the entire LJCDS community that continues to be in corner to this day.
“He is a definite leader by example that teammates believed in,” Hales said. “Takes a ton of pride in being the best by winning every sprint or competition and making plays on game day. A guy who doesn’t say much, but when he does, teammates listen and respond.”
SDSU’s values and Burmeister’s character align. Will it be enough to convince the La Jolla native to become a Hometown Hero? Likely seeking a place where he can make an immediate impact, this much is clear: whatever team Burmeister chooses will be getting a winner.
“I’d love to see him as an Aztec,” Hale admitted. San Diego agrees and hopes the third time’s the charm.