San Diego State released its depth chart following Spring Camp today. It clarified a number of storylines and set the stage for the most important part of the year in terms of player development.
At the end of spring camp, players meet with the coaching staff and received an honest assessment of their development. Players are notified where they stand on the depth chart and what the staff would like to see them improve before fall camp.
Below are some notes on the depth chart.
Brandon Crenshaw-Dixon is one of the team’s best offensive linemen
BCD practiced primarily with the second-team offensive line when the media was present during spring camp. He also played with that unit for much of the Spring Game. Lining up a two-year starter raised questions that were finally answered with the release of the depth chart.
The team’s most experienced lineman participated where he did to allow the staff to see which of their promising young tackles, Christian Jones and Drew Azzopardi, was the most ready to play. SDSU offensive line coach Mike Goff gave the early nod to Jones, who is listed as the starter at left tackle.
After playing all of last season at left tackle, BCD is back at right tackle, which he manned in 2021. Sliding Crenshaw-Dixon back to the right side also allows him to protect Jalen Mayden’s blind side.
Without the opportunity of a preseason, college coaches have to find ways to discern if their players without game experience can actually play in that environment. One way to do that is to have flexibility with the units in spring ball. Playing BCD second in the OT rotation gave the staff a look at the younger offensive linemen against their best defensive linemen.
The makeup of the offensive line is obviously still in flux. Barring injury, whatever its final configuration for the first game against Ohio, BCD figures to be part of it. SDSU head coach Brady Hoke even floated the idea of moving BCD to guard if needed.
Patrick McMorris is transferring
The biggest revelation from the release of the depth chart was Patrick McMorris was not listed. The school confirmed they are expecting their most decorated returning player to enter the transfer portal. It was first reported by Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
McMorris’ late exit from the program is interesting because he was one of the main players who spoke to the media after spring practice. That is a role usually reserved for a team leader. The staff was clearly expecting McMorris to play a significant role in 2023. There is no way to sugarcoat the loss. It is significant. Led by McMorris, the secondary was believed to be the strength of the defense.
The back five is still incredibly deep. Kyron White, who practiced all spring at linebacker, is listed back at the aztec safety position. He has been McMorris’ primary backup for the past few seasons. Despite White’s placement as fourth on the depth chart, he is the most likely player to man the position for the opening game against Ohio. Max Garrison and Marcus Ratcliffe are listed first on the depth chart. Both had great spring camps and earned themselves the opportunity to compete for playing time.
Skill Position Musings
The running back room appears loaded again. Kenan Christon, Cam Davis, and Jaylon Armstead are the top three at the position. In camp, that trio appeared to separate themselves from the rest of the room. The depth chart confirmed that was the case. As opposed to the past few seasons, there is a clear pecking order for the group.
Cameron Harpole’s spring camp did not go unnoticed by the staff. He is listed as the second tight end at the Y position, and the starter at H. Harpole’s speed and toughness earned him the position over Jay Rudolph, who is behind Harpole at both spots. Those two, along with Mark Redman, Gus McGee, Logan Tanner, and Aaron Greene, make for a very deep position group.
Mekhi Shaw cemented himself as the team’s best wideout in spring camp. That was reflected on the depth chart where the Hometown Hero is listed as the starter at two positions. Versatility is the most obvious quality the wide receivers possess. It should give offensive coordinator Ryan Lindley the opportunity to use motion to give his scheme less predictability because he has athletes who can excel in multiple roles.
The defensive line has not cleared up
Only so much can be accomplished in 15 practices in spring camp. More than setting the depth chart, the second phase of SDSU’s football calendar provides the framework for the actual competition.
Nowhere is this dynamic seen better than with the defensive line. The depth chart lists six players as starters for two spots. There are a lot of ways to interpret the lack of clarity at the two positions.
It could be argued that the plethora of options means the group is deep. On the other hand, without anyone standing out, it could be read that there is no one who is ready to play at the needed level. The truth is probably a mixture of both.
The hope that SDSU’s defense can continue to play at a high level rests on the track record of its head coach developing defensive linemen.
– McMorris only had the decision to transfer because of the extra year of Covid and because his 2022 was not as good as expected.
– Injuries factored in heavily in the depth chart. Rudolph and Daniel Okpoko are known players who did not practice as heavily as their teammates to protect them from injury. Both will be key contributors this fall.
– Shaw is also listed as the primary punt returner. Shaw’s career arc has been incredible.
– With the glut of corners on the roster, it will be interesting to see if the staff uses three corners more than they have in years past. Dallas Branch has the makeup of a traditional nickel corner, who might be utilized in that role in sure passing downs in place of whoever plays the aztec safety.
– Brionne Penny’s drop on the depth chart is notable. He is listed behind Phillipe Wesley. Penny is the only receiver on the two-deep with size. That skill set should allow him to stand out among many similar players.
– Garrison, Ratcliffe, Josh Hunter, Eric Butler, and Jatavious McGee should make SDSU’s special teams competitive this year.
– Kenon Christan as the kickoff returner is very exciting, given the hometown hero’s track speed.
– For the first time in a few years, the depth chart lists Fullback as a position on the team, with walk-on Nick Gardinera the only player listed.
– McMorris was not the only scholarship player to leave the program. Redshirt freshmen WR Hassan Mahasin, WR Jacoby Kelly, and OL Laakea Kapoi are also no longer with the team.
My earliest sport’s memory involve tailgating at the Murph, running down the circular exit ramps, and seeing the Padres, Chargers and Aztecs play. As a second generation Aztec, I am passionate about all things SDSU. Other interests include raising my four children, being a great husband and teaching high school.