According to Rivals.com, running back Cincere Rhaney is the 59th overall prospect in California. Rhaney committed to San Jose State in October. Had he signed with the Spartans, Rivals would have considered him SJSU’s best prospect in this year’s recruiting class.
How an athlete with opportunities to attend Washington, Utah, and Arizona ended up at SDSU in the 11th hour on Early Signing Day instead of the Mountain West rival he had planned to attend for months is a tale of how the fortunes of sister institutions can swing in a matter of hours.
Dominoes fall fast in the world of college football recruiting. Their movement this year made Floyd Chalk IV among the notable names in San Diego State football’s Class of 2024 that few have heard about.
Last season, Chalk competed for Grambling State University. Eight days after Grambling fired head coach Hue Jackson, Chalk entered the transfer portal. Wednesday, he announced his commitment to San Jose State.
“I started to question (my commitment) after they went and got another running back last minute and didn’t really communicate with me,” Rhaney told the East Village Times.
Rhaney explained that it was not the prospect of competing against Chalk that made him reconsider SJSU. Throughout his recruitment, the Spartans had never mentioned bringing in another player at his position. Their decision to bring in Chalk at the last minute without discussing it with someone who was committed for months created a chance for the Aztecs.
“I wish nothing but well for San Jose, but I felt they didn’t really believe in my talent once they got a running back in the portal without saying anything,” Rhaney explained. “It kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but when I got the call from coach Lewis, it was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass on. He told me how he sat and watched my film and how I am the all-around back that can help take the offense to the next level. We talked about a variety of important things and talked for a long time. I sat long and hard and came to my decision hours before signing.”
At noon on Wednesday, Lewis held a press conference to announce the Class of 2024. As he wrapped up his remarks, word spread in the Fowler Athletic Center of a last-minute addition, a significant flip to SDSU. RB coach Darian Hagan’s excitement was evident. Within hours, Rhaney announced his commitment. At 5:18, SDSU made his signing official.
As quickly as Rhaney makes defensive players miss in the open field, the fifth-highest-rated running back in the Golden State was coming to San Diego. What makes his signing a recruiting coup for Lewis and Hagan is evident on film.
Among many traits that make him such a coveted player, Rhaney’s vision stands out. His ability to see and almost anticipate the hole in a chaos of blockers and defenders can’t be taught. At a position filled with top athletes, this innate quality is what defines quality running backs most.
Rhaney is an old-school back who might remind fans of former Aztec RB Adam Muema. With minimal movement, he gets downhill. He attacks the line of scrimmage and uses his powerful 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame well. Rhaney has good but not great speed. He does most of his work inside, but if a defender lacks discipline, he can get to the corner. In three high school seasons, he racked up 4,603 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns.
“For the people who haven’t seen my game, I would say I am a game changer,” Rhaney said. “I can do everything at a high level, and when the ball is in my hands, I can make great plays, and I’m willing to do anything to help this team win.”
EVT scouting analyst Denis Ryan said he “passes the eyeball test … not too big, not too small … played against solid competition … hits the hole aggressively … does not avoid contact … very solid player … he’s a very nice addition.”
Just over three weeks on the job, Lewis is turning into a great recruiting weapon for the Aztecs. His reputation attracted Rhaney. The talented running back signed without taking an official visit. He plans to see his future home sometime next month. Rhaney also said Hagan’s resume impressed him.
“I think what attracts everyone to Coach Lewis is that he’s a winner,” Rhaney said. “Everywhere he goes, he wins, and he not only wins, but he also develops his players and can coach his tail off. I saw what he did at Kent (State) and Colorado, so I have been keeping up with Coach Lewis. We know we can help Coach Lewis take this program to the next level.”
One other aspect that worked in SDSU’s favor was Rhaney’s relationship with Jason Mitchell. Mitchell, a four-star defensive back, also committed to SDSU. The two athletes have played together since they were seven.
“We both are coming to put in work to become a national powerhouse and bring this city and fanbase what they deserve,” Rhaney added.
Rhaney and fellow 2024 recruit Anthony McMillian are potentially coming into SDSU at a perfect time to compete for carries as true freshmen. Despite the recruiting resumes of the Aztec returners, no running back rushed for more than Jaylon Armstead’s 448 yards.
Skill position players are more likely to play early than those in the trenches. Whether it is 2024 or in the coming years if the talented back fulfills his potential, San Jose State and the rest of the Mountain West will revisit what took place this past week and marvel at the recruiting coup SDSU pulled off to land Cincere Rhaney.
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.