Local recruits to watch at SDSU’s First Passing Camp

Top left AJ Logan (Credit: Mt. Miguel), Dreydan Garner (X.com), Zachary Benitez (EVT). Bottom left Ezaya Tokio (Hudl), Cooper Woodhall (TPH Athletics), Amio Fox (Hudl), Lee Norman-Lester (Doug Brady)

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SDSU Passing Camp Schedule. (SDSU Athletics)

Over the next two weeks, SDSU will host its annual passing camps. Forty-eight teams will compete this weekend. Games begin at 8 am Saturday on six different fields, with the last first-day contests scheduled for 4:15 pm. 

Last year, Helix took home the first weekend title. The championship foreshadowed the Highlanders’ terrific 2023 campaign that ended with a 45-38 double overtime loss to Lincoln in the Open Division semifinals. 

Helix is back to defend its championship against some of the best programs in San Diego County. Open Division champion Granite Hills, Lincoln, and Mt. Miguel are just a few local schools coming to campus on June 8 and 9. Eisenhower (Rialto, CA), Long Beach Poly, and Yuma Catholic are some out-of-city heavyweights attending the event.

Each team plays three games in pool play on the event’s first day. Squads are grouped according to their perceived strength. Pairing the elite teams together allows the college coaches in attendance to evaluate players against the best competition. Granite Hills, Lincoln, Helix, and Yuma Catholic form one Group of Death. Mt. Miguel, Del Norte, Long Beach Poly, and Eisenhower form another. 

After pool play on Saturday, SDSU’s staff will rank the teams and place them in brackets. The opening game on Sunday determines if a team will compete in the winners or losers bracket. Whichever teams goes undefeated on the final day will leave SDSU as champions. 

The passing tournament’s benefits to the Aztecs are evident. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. Hundreds of recruits will be visiting SDSU, interacting with staff, and making memories. Below are nine local recruits to keep an eye on during the festivities. 

Granite Hills QB Zachary Benitez. (Paul Garrison/EVT)

QB Zachary Benitez (6-foot-3, 200 lbs)

Granite Hills High School

Class of 2027

SDSU Offer: Yes

Earning a scholarship as a freshman says enough about the talent of this local quarterback. Zachary Benitez’s first offer came from SDSU a few weeks ago. Since then, UNLV has jumped into the fray. They won’t be the last. The rest of the country has yet to enter the sweepstakes officially so now is the time for the Aztecs to cement the relationship with Benitez before more schools do. 

The Eagles are known for annually having among the biggest and best offensive lines in the county. Benitez will not have the luxury of playing behind them this weekend. Still, passing precision and quick decisions is the name of the game in 7-on-7, and Benitez already excels in these areas. 

“What makes (Benitez) special is his arm talent,” Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs told EVT. “He can put the ball anywhere on the field, very accurate and very competitive.”

Cobbs likes to say that 7-on-7 isn’t real football, but Benitez and Granite Hills enter the tournament with a bullseye on their backs as the reigning Open Division champs. Feeling that pressure and expectation in June should help them meet a similar challenge in the fall. 

WR Zagar Aiken (6-foot-3, 180 lbs)

Madison High School

Class of 2025

SDSU Offer: No 

Projecting a high school player’s college potential is tough unless they possess a skill needed at the next level. In Madison WR Zagar Aiken’s case, his game centers around the ability to win 50/50 balls. The designs of modern offenses make a wideout’s ability to elevate over defensive backs as important as crisp route running. Aiken thrives in this niche. 

A good player comparison is future SDSU WR/TE Michael Harrison. A walk-on at Colorado, Harrison will be a scholarship athlete with the Aztecs because SDSU head coach Sean Lewis figured out how dangerous 6-foot-3 tweeners can be in the passing game while also giving flexibility to his other schemes. 

To earn a scholarship earlier than Harrison, Aiken must show more explosiveness and versatility while maintaining what he is already adept at. 7-on-7 might not be real football, and some of Aiken’s physicality will be lost this weekend, but it is a perfect place to develop and prove he is more than just a jump ball specialist. 

“Zagar is a big physical athletic receiver who has shown extreme loyalty and commitment to the program and the process of improving from year to year,” Madison head coach Rick Jackson said. “He will be a guy who plays somewhere on Saturdays. He grinds in the weight room, the classroom, and in everything he does in preparation for the upcoming season.”

WR AJ Logan (5-foot-10, 175 lbs)

Mt. Miguel High School

Class of 2026

SDSU Offer: Yes

With all due respect to the other athletes competing this weekend, AJ Logan might be the most exciting to watch. He is electric with the ball in his hands and brings an element of escapability to 7-on-7. Logan is part of a receiving corp at Mt. Miguel that will rival any in California. This weekend, expect Logan to lead the Matadors to a deep run in the tournament. 

Logan already holds an offer from SDSU. He burst onto the scene as a freshman at San Ysidro High School. In a baffling decision that has not aged well, the CIF forced him to sit out last year after transferring to Mt. Miguel. Now free to compete, Logan is hungry to make up for lost time.  Should the campus, coaches, and event make a good impression, Logan might be playing with the Aztecs in a few years. 

“AJ led the country in punt return yards as a freshman,” Mount Miguel head coach Verlain Betofe said. “He has huge hands and the best pair of hands I have ever coached at receiver. AJ is a three-star recruit with ten offers and one of the best players in San Diego.”

QB Lee Norman-Lester (Credit: Doug Brady)

QB Lee Norman-Lester (6-foot-1, 180lbs)

Helix Charter High School

Class of 2026

SDSU Offer: No

The buzz coming out of the first passing camp last season was the play of Helix QB Ryland Jessee. His understudy in 2023, Lee Norman-Lester, could be the talk of the tournament this year. With Jessee now at Michigan State, the keys to Helix’s high-powered attack are now in Norman-Lester’s hands. 

Doug Brady, one of the best QB coaches in the country, trains Norman-Lester. It shows. The rising junior won the most accurate passer at the Super 7 this year. He is a great athlete with 100, 200, and 400-meter times of 11.26, 22.89, and 53.22, respectively. According to his high school coach, Damaja Jones, he impressed SDSU at the recent San Diego Showcase. A strong showing this weekend could earn him a scholarship offer. 

“What makes (Norman-Lester) special is he is a true dual-threat QB, dynamic with his arm and legs,” Jones explained. “He is going to have a special year.”

WR/CB Amari Sanders (6-foot, 170lbs)

Mira Mesa High School

Class of 2025

SDSU Offer: No

Since arriving in San Diego, Sean Lewis has been asked what he looks for in recruits. Mira Mesa’s Amari Sanders checks every box Lewis has mentioned. He has verified speed, proven production, and shown consistent improvement. Sanders embodies the “Be the A1pha” ethos.

On film, he looks like a track star as he effortlessly glides past defenders. He possesses good size for a wide receiver and an excellent frame for a corner. Sanders’ development on the field was evident by his 17.9 yards per reception. He wears No.10 for the Marauders, the same number former Mira Mesa star Noah Tumblin donned for the Aztecs. Perhaps that is an omen of things to come. 

“Amari plays wide receiver and corner for us,” Mira Mesa head coach Aurelio Morales explained. “He also returns kicks. He’s a track guy who improved his times a lot this year. He ran a 10.78 100-meter dash this year, down from an 11.2 last year, which makes him, I think, the third fastest kid in the county according to that time. He was out at SDSU last year, and they put him on their board. Hopefully, he can show what he can do this weekend and get an offer.”

LB Ezaya Tokio (6-foot-4, 200 lbs)

Oceanside High School

Class of 2026

SDSU Offer: Yes

Only a rising junior, Oceanside High’s Ezaya Tokio’s college position is unclear. He profiles as an EDGE with his ability to get downhill quickly, but he also looks like a linebacker with his long arms and instincts. The next couple of years will dictate where he ends up. 

Tokio transferred from St. Augustine to Oceanside and will benefit from playing in the competitive culture the Pirates are known for. Expect his motor, athleticism, and toughness to improve as he ages, a scary inevitability for those lined up against him. 

Tokio will work as a tight end and in coverage this weekend. These roles will allow him to continue to develop and form chemistry with his new teammates. SDSU offered Tokio in January. The chance to get him on campus six months later is gold for the program.

“(Ezaya Tokio) has good instincts and great length,” Oceanside head coach Fale Poumele said. “He has a high upside with the ability to disrupt QBs in blitzes. (Tokio) is an all-around good athlete and leader of the team.”

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ATH Cooper Woodhall (6-foot-2, 185 lbs)

Torrey Pines High School

Class of 2025

SDSU Offer: No

Jesse Matthews is one of the best receivers ever to put on an Aztec uniform. Comparing a rising, high school senior to Matthews is unfair to both, but Torrey Pines WR/DB Cooper Woodhall looks the part of a potential diamond in the rough. 

This weekend, Woodhall will be competing for a spot on the college recruiting radar. On film, he’s a gamer who was utilized in a variety of roles and formations. What sets him apart is his work ethic. Following the SDSU Passing Camp, he will be at the First Chance U Foundation’s DB Academy from June 28-30. He also competed in that event last year. 

Passing tournaments like these are vital for every athlete, no matter where they are in their respective journeys. Woodhall looks like a DI walk-on, but he also doesn’t appear to have come into his own athletically yet. If he is a late bloomer and more athleticism comes out of his terrific frame, his recruiting could take off. Woodhall is a next-level player. The path he takes to get there could change based on his performance this weekend. 

“Cooper Woodhall is a returning offensive starter,” Torrey Pines head coach Scott Ashby explained. “He will be playing slot receiver and corner for us at the tournament. Cooper is constantly working to get better.  He is fast, physical, and works very hard on the technical side.”

Dreyden Garner’s profile photo on X. (@DreydenGarner)

WR Dreyden Garner

Lincoln Charter School

Class of 2025

SDSU Offer: Yes

Life is not equal. Dreyden Garner is someone blessed to play football. Combined with a work ethic that has taken off, the sky’s the limit. His offers prove that. 

Garner, though, is also an old soul. A philosopher of sorts who approaches his process with a perspective beyond his years. Despite scholarships from across the country, he could choose to be the crown jewel of SDSU’s Class of 2025. He has the Aztecs in his list of finalists. If he does, he would be the over-the-top threat that will make Sean Lewis’ offense potent for years. 

Falling to Granite Hills in the Open Division Championship ignited a passion in the already hungry program. On Tuesday, Lincoln won the Arizona State 7-on-7 tournament. Part of the reason they competed in that event was to be at their best so they could put on a show in their hometown this weekend.

“We have four kids on our team that I think could help San Diego State in the future…,” Lincoln offensive coordinator Jason Carter said. “We’ve got Dreyden Garner. He’s a kid that has a bigger body and can run. His best football is in front of him. I know San Diego State has been on him, but I think they can do a better job of recruiting him cause I don’t think he’s going to go where people think he’s going to go. That can change everything. … He’s going to be phenomenal.”

The other Hornets Carter mentioned that he sees potentially helping the Aztecs are senior WR Isaiah Grant (Class of 2025), CB Cammeron Purnell (2026), and EDGE Prince Tavizon (2027). Purnell and Tavizon have SDSU offers. The Aztecs have shown interest in Grant. 

ATH Amio Fox (5-foot-10, 175 lbs)

Montgomery High School

Class of 2025

SDSU Offer: No

Amio Fox is the type of hard-nosed athlete former SDSU head coach Rocky Long used to reinvent SDSU’s defense. Fox starred for St. Augustine in 2023. With the program embroiled in controversy, he transferred a few miles from the border to Montgomery High. 

A popular defensive tactic used to counter spread offenses is to use versatile athletes like Fox at positions he does not profile to play at. Fox lined up at outside linebacker and was rated one of the best in the county by SD Football Network. This season with the Montgomery Aztecs, he will have an opportunity to compete in more traditional ways. 

This weekend, Fox will have the chance to show off his athleticism and skill in coverage. His tackling and instincts are known commodities. If he can couple those with more quick twitch movements, fluid hips, and lockdown ability, it would improve his chances of landing an offer. 

“Amio is an athlete that makes plays on both sides of the ball,” Montgomery head coach and former Aztec Freddy Dunkle said. “On offense, he’s a playmaker with the speed and agility to score at any time. On defense, he’s a ballhawk who attacks the ball with physicality and great technique.”

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