Can SDSU make Hometown Heroes out of the Fantastic 5?

Photo credit from left to right: Hudl, Isaiah Buxton, Twitter: @WillCianfrini05, Twitter: @DamarrionWhite6, Twitter: @SDPreps, Phillip Brents/The Star News

WR Will Cianfrini on a visit to SDSU. (Credit, Twitter: @WillCianfrini05)

247Sports is widely considered the leader in recruiting coverage. They annually rank the best college classes and prospects by position and state. According to the site, the top six recruits in San Diego County are QB Julian Sayin, WR Will Cianfrini, DE Damarrion White, CB Isaiah Buxton, RB Anthony McMillian, and OT Joshua Glanz.

Sayin, a 5-star prospect, is committed to Alabama. The Aztecs are in the mix for the rest.

If SDSU head coach Sean Lewis’ first recruiting act is landing five of the top six recruits in San Diego, it would be a major coup and a strong sign that high schoolers in America’s Finest City are a priority for the new staff.

“You can go back to the roster that I inherited at my previous spot; it was deficient of local talent,” Lewis said last Wednesday. “By the time that we left, I think the number was 72% of our roster came from within a three-and-a-half-hour drive time. It’s the same competitive advantage we have here. There’s so much good football that’s played in Southern California.”

Below is a write-up of each player with quotes on what they think of SDSU, plus comments from EVT’s football scouting analyst, Denis Ryan. A former college football player, Ryan is a second-generation coach and travels throughout the country analyzing high school and college football.

WR Will Cianfrini: 6-foot-4, 180 pounds
Carlsbad High School, 3-star, 88 rating

Will Cianfrini is committed to SDSU. (Credit: Twitter: @willcianfrini05)

Cianfrini is the complete package as a wide receiver. Tall with good leaping ability, he possesses everything wideouts need in modern football. He is a polished route runner and does a good job of catching the ball at its highest point.

Playing with Sayin at Carlsbad, he catches passes in places most high school receivers don’t. That should help him acclimate to the next level faster. Athletically, he plays multiple sports, and comes from a family of athletes. His mother played basketball in college.

Cianfrini shows the ability to make high school players miss in the open field. How that translates to the next level is unknown, but many taller DI receivers do not have the ability he possesses to juke in the open field, even in high school.

Originally from The Woodlands, Texas, about 30 miles north of Houston, Cianfrini moved to Galveston in the eighth grade and spent three years of high school there. During the summer of his junior year, he participated in the Elite 11 passing camps and turned a lot of heads. When his dad moved to the West Coast for work, Cianfrini enrolled at Carlsbad High.

Despite playing with one of the premier high school QBs and catching the attention of scouts and colleges around the country, Cianfrini describes himself as “raw.” Nearly a four-star recruit, if Cianfrini is truly scratching the surface of his game, SDSU may have the steal of the 2024 Class.

Though he’s only been in San Diego a short time, he proudly applies the Hometown Hero moniker to himself. He plans to study sales at SDSU. Cianfrini’s first big test of his Aztecs’ career is selling the university to the undecided recruits accompanying him on his official visit this weekend.

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Quote: “(Former SDSU WR) coach (Jonathan) Krause called me and gave me a shot, and he offered me,” Cianfrini said. “They just did such a good job talking to me, and they gave me a ton of attention. The way they recruited me it was just so good for me. So, it just felt like home.”

Scout’s Notes: Cianfrini is a tall, polished player … Catches with hands in traffic and in jump balls … Doesn’t create a lot of separation on routes, but has height to compensate … Very little blocking tape, and that will need to be a plus skill to play … SDSU doesn’t have a comparable guy on the roster like him … How fast is he?

DE Damarrion White: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds
Granite Hills High School, 3-star, 87 rating

Damarrion White (left) waits for the offense to line up. (Credit: Twitter: @DamarrionWhite6

White led Granite Hills to the San Diego Open Division Championship over Lincoln. The 27-26 thriller that ended on a muffed snap on the game’s final play, showed the threat White is to opposing offenses. Lincoln’s game plan focused on limiting White’s impact. He was double-teamed all evening. The Hornets also rolled away from him in the passing game or made him the read on option plays.

The qualities that make him the 61st-best player in the state are evident. Fast, with a quick burst off the line, White is adept at rushing the edge or using inside moves. He showed good assignment discipline and recognition of play designs. His 4.6 40 time showed as he chased down Lincoln’s terrific QB Akili Smith.

Early fruit of Lewis’ promise to focus on San Diego can be seen in White’s recruitment. White told EVT that the former staff did not recruit him hard, but that changed once the Aztecs hired their new headman. White met defensive line coach Bojay Filimoeatu early this year, but only recently have the two become reacquainted.

SDSU invited White for an official visit this weekend, but he already has a trip planned to Fresno State on Friday. Next weekend, he plans to visit Arkansas State. He has already made a trip to Oregon State. White plans to sign on December 20 and enroll early. The next few weeks will make all the difference. Before making his final decision, he plans to visit SDSU, but the details of that trip have yet to be made.

Quote: “It doesn’t matter where I play,” White said when asked why staying home might be attractive for him. “It’s just that close to home is a plus because my family can come out whenever they want to see me … It’s a place where I can put on for the city, and the city’s familiar with me.”

Scout’s Notes: Very good tape … He gets upfield and can really run … Probably needs to gain a minimum of 30 pounds, which means he may need to redshirt … Gets off the ball well … Will need to add weight to play in the run game … His skill level is elite … If he were 250 pounds, he would have some serious offers.

CB Isaiah Buxton: 6-foot, 165 pounds
Mater Dei Catholic High School, 3-star, 87 rating

Isaiah Buxton’s announcement of his de-commit from Arizona opened the door for SDSU to bring him to The Mesa. (Credit: Twitter: @isaiah_buxton)

Since his breakout sophomore season, Buxton has been regarded as one of the best corners in the state. Having proven his elite cover skills, Buxton moved to safety this year and showcased his tackling ability. Helping in all phases, he blocked multiple kicks and returned them for touchdowns while providing explosiveness in the slot as a wide receiver. Called a “star” by his high school coach on Episode 107 of The SDSU podcast, Buxton proved to be just that in 2023.

SDSU is hosting the talented DB this weekend for an official visit. Coaches Demetrius Sumler and Ryan Lindley are his primary recruiters. Since Buxton’s decommit from Arizona, the staff has made bringing him to The Mesa a priority. Buxton told EVT that getting a closer look at SDSU and developing a relationship with Coach Lewis are the priorities of his official visit.

Quote: “Love the new staff,” Buxton told EVT. “They got the city bought back in, and to me personally, that is the most important thing if an athlete wants to stay (home). If the athletes in San Diego know the city is behind them, why wouldn’t you want to play for San Diego State?”

Scout’s Notes: Have to love someone who wears No.1 … Appears bigger than his listed size … Could provide immediate help on special teams … High-quality run support, not afraid to hit … He can play.

Anthony McMillian JR: 6-foot, 225 pounds
Mater Dei Catholic High School, 3-star, 87 rating

Anthony McMillian, Isaiah Buxton, and Will Cianfrini who will be taking official visits to SDSU. (Credit: Twitter: @antmcmillianjr)

Physically, McMillian brings everything to the table from the running back position. He has terrific size, speed (4.6 forty), hands, and elusiveness. Despite his tall frame, he runs with a low center of gravity. If he can master the playbook, McMillian is a candidate for reps as a true freshman. He plans to enroll early, which should aid that cause.

McMillian is already committed to SDSU. Even after Brady Hoke retired, he did not waver. McMillian should be one of the beneficiaries of the coaching change. SDSU backs historically rotate, and while that should remain in the future, the volume of snaps Lewis’ offense generates means multiple running backs will receive a larger volume of touches.

Quote: “Going into my recruitment, I was always told, ‘Don’t commit to coaching, commit to the school.’’ McMillian said on Episode 107 of The SDSU Podcast. “So, I’ve built great relationships with the (former) coaches, but I also fell in love with the school. (Hoke) leaving is sad, but I’m committed to San Diego State, to the school, and to their program.”

Scout’s Notes: McMillian can play … I don’t know if he would be better at linebacker… He has a solid frame, runs very hard … Does not have breakaway speed, and might not be able to shed tacklers at will like he did in high school … welcome addition to a crowded running back room at SDSU.

Joshua Glanz 6-foot-6, 290 pounds
Eastlake High School, 3-star, 87 rating

Joshua Glanz raises the Golden Boot. (Credit: Phillip Brents/The Star-News)

Glanz committed to UCLA in January but decommitted last week. On the first day after making that decision public, Glanz told EVT he had to turn off his phone because of the interest he received. It is easy to see why he is such a coveted athlete.

Glanz has great size and soft feet for someone who carries that frame. Mild-mannered off the field, Glanz is a bully on it. Multiple former coaches have suggested he could come to SDSU and start right away.

Glanz is in no rush to make a college choice. He plans to sign a Letter of Intent on National Signing Day in February. Since Lewis’ hire, SDSU has done a great job reconnecting with him. Among others on the staff, Glanz met in person with new QB coach Matt Johnson. He plans to take an official visit to SDSU after Christmas. Though he intends to take other trips, Montezuma Mesa is the only place on his list so far.

Quote: “I love what coach Lewis is doing bringing in the right guys, familiar faces that are on the same page,” Glanz said when asked about SDSU’s new staff. “I’m trying to get there as soon as possible (for a visit). See what they have to offer with the facilities and all that.”

Scout’s Notes: Glanz is a guy you don’t need to watch much tape on to see talent … Good height and weight … Lots of tape of him moving, pulling, and blocking downfield … Has lots of good weight … OL coaches will be happy to have him … Better high school tape than Drew Azzopardi or Christian Jones.

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