Ezekiel Larry filling the “zeke” at SDSU

Credit: Ezekiel Larry

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Ezekiel Larry (33) records a sack against Harvard. (Credit: Ezekiel Larry)

During his official visit to SDSU over the weekend, EDGE rusher Ezekiel Larry committed to the Aztecs. The Yale transfer told the staff of his decision on Sunday morning.

Larry provides immediate depth and competition to one of the premier positions on the defense. Defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt came to San Diego after leading the EDGEs at the University of Washington. EDGE coach Rob Aurich left a DC role at Idaho to lead the rushers with the Aztecs. Their expertise should translate to the EDGE being a position of strength for SDSU.

“One of the deciding factors was the fact that our defense at San Diego State is built around it,” Larry told EVT on Sunday afternoon. “The EDGE is the position that keeps everybody afloat because we rely on our speed and our athleticism to really disrupt stuff. With coach Schmidt also being an expert (at coaching EDGEs) and the defense with the EDGE having a prominent role, I knew I wasn’t going to get that opportunity to be coached by someone with that expertise and have that kind of significance on the defense.”

In addition to talent and competition, his decision infuses the EDGE room with proven production. Richmond transfer Marlem Louis was a two-time, all-CAA selection and has a dozen sacks in his career. Dominic Oliver has one. Trey White has none. Larry had six at Yale, including five in the final two games of the season.

On paper, a two-deep comes into focus with Larry’s commitment. SDSU splits its EDGEs between the boundary and field. The Aztecs call the field EDGE “end.” Fittingly after Larry’s commitment, the boundary EDGE is called “zeke,” one of the roots of the name Ezekiel.

Credit: Ezekiel Larry

Playing on the field side, the end needs to hold the outside against possible double teams from tight ends in the run game. Louis and White have the body types to play there. The boundary edge is where the team’s best pure pass rushers go to work. Oliver and Larry could hold that position down. 95% of the time, Larry said, the EDGEs have the same responsibilities. Part of Larry’s film study this weekend was watching his future teammates and he had high praise for the room he’s entering.

“Coach Rob and coach Schmidt said I would fit to be a zeke with my frame and the way I move,” Larry said. “They said they drop a little more, and they are a little more in space. But, coach Schmidt and coach Rob said they’re also open to me playing end. It’s really just getting on the field and seeing where I fit in the fold.”

After arriving on The Mesa this offseason, head coach Sean Lewis chose a defense with a four-man front instead of the three-defender formations he had used at Kent State. Part of his reasoning was to unleash the potential of players with the unique skill to collapse the pocket around quarterbacks.

Following the Aztec Fast Showcase, Lewis said ideally his team would have four to six. Illinois transfer EDGE Jared Badie accompanied Larry on his official visit. Badie announced his commitment Monday morning, bringing the total of possible starters to five.

One result of playing an uptempo offense is it increases the snaps in games. It would be impossible for the starters to compete at a high level for the added snaps. Larry’s addition means SDSU will have fresh EDGE athletes throughout a contest.

“It keeps your legs fresh,” Larry explained. “O-linemen don’t rotate. D-linemen do. It’s going to keep us fresh. On top of that, if somebody makes a play, the other person is going to want to make a play. It’s going to bring up the overall intensity of the room.”

A couple of weeks ago, Larry said leaving Yale was one of the hardest decisions he has ever made. Part of what stood out to him on his SDSU visit was his future teammates. Safety Eric Butler was his host. Butler, AJ Duffy, and some other Aztecs showed him a good time on his three-day visit from Friday to Sunday. He left knowing that the brotherhood that existed at Yale is also present at SDSU.

Why did Ezekiel Larry choose SDSU?

After Larry entered the transfer portal, offers came pouring in. Most notably, Virginia Tech longed for his services. Due to his immediate connection to the staff and the defense played at SDSU, he did not schedule any other trips. His official visit was more to confirm what he had already discovered.

What he found was a group of coaches who are younger than a lot of others around the country. Their youthful vibe excited Larry. There was also a palpable humility that Larry found refreshing.

“He’s just down-to-earth, and he’s just honest, transparent, open, all of that,” Larry said. “What I really like about coach Lewis is being a new regime here at San Diego State, I could really tell he’s building a buzz for the team. He’s putting the talent around it. I appreciate the energy and effort he’s putting into this job, but at the same time, he still remains just a down-to-earth guy. A guy you can sit down and have lunch with, which me and my family did and we really enjoyed. Coach Lew is a great guy.”

“Coach Schmidt, I’m excited to finally get a chance to work with him,” Larry explained. “I was supposed to go up there to Fresno with him out of high school, but we got it right this time. He is just great vibes. I can tell coach Schmidt really believes in me and that’s all I really want or ask for, a coach that believes in me.”

“Coach Aurich, we just enjoyed getting to know him,” Larry said. “He’s an interesting guy, but at the same time, he knows how to flip that switch and become a football coach fast. We saw that flip get switched in the film room. I’m excited about coach Aurich. He’s cool. He’s real cool.”

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Close to home

Larry is from Palmdale, California. By leaving Yale and the East Coast for San Diego, it gives his community more opportunities to see him in person. Only his parents and grandparents have watched him as spectators in a stadium during his college years. Larry said people like his trainer since childhood are already making plans to come down to Snapdragon Stadium next season.

There’s a greater perspective in society today about the speed at which life passes. Whether that’s due to living through the COVID-19 pandemic or TikToks pushing the theme, many like Larry see the value in staying connected to the people who matter most.

“My whole circle’s very excited,” Larry said. …“I’m just excited to be close to my family again. Just knowing, if I need to be back up in Palmdale, I could be there in a couple of hours. I just feel very blessed. And they were very excited. They enjoyed the visit just as much or even more than me. My parents really enjoy getting to know coach Rob, coach Schmidt, and coach Lew. They were just as on board with it as me, so we all sat in coach Lew’s office and we told him. Everybody in the room was excited.”

Player acquisition is an ongoing process in college football. In landing a 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior EDGE, SDSU added a player who will make them better the next two seasons. The more athletes like Larry that they bring to The Mesa, the more apparent it is that Lewis and his staff are not just laying a foundation at SDSU. They want to win right away.

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