SDSU head coach Sean Lewis strikes again. A day after landing the commitment of prep star QB Danny O’Neil, a second signal caller, Florida State transfer AJ Duffy announced his intention to play for Lewis and the Aztecs on social media this afternoon.
A consensus four-star recruit from IMG Academy in Florida, Duffy is originally from the Inland Empire. He moved to the Sunshine State as a senior in high school after missing his junior season due to California canceling the 2020 season due to the pandemic. After three years on the East Coast, Duffy is excited to play on the other side of the continent.
“I love the coaching staff and think the offense fits what I do very well,” Duffy told EVT before adding, “I’m fired up to get back to California. There’s nothing like coming home and doing what you love.”
Lewis’s reputation as an offensive savant gripped the nation a year ago when he left a successful head coaching tenure at Kent State to work under Deion Sanders at Colorado. At the time, college insiders praised the hire, but as the Buffaloes’ offense was reborn under Lewis’ care, praise resounded for Lewis around the country.
Predictions of how SDSU would grow into a coveted landing spot for offensive players abounded since athletic director JD Wicker entrusted the program to Lewis. In a few short weeks, that potential has actualized. It is difficult to imagine a signal caller with Duffy’s resume coming to America’s Finest City under the former coaching staff.
“Coach Lewis is a great guy,” Duffy said. “He really loves ball and knows how to dial it up. I’m fired up to be able to play for him.”
Lewis is only 37 years old, but Duffy had the opportunity to see firsthand the fruit of Lewis’ coaching prowess. In 2015, Lewis was the QB coach and Co-Offensive coordinator at Bowling Green.
The Falcons’ signal caller that year threw for 4,946 yards and 46 touchdowns on his way to being named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year, the MAC Most Valuable Player, and winning the Sammy Baugh Trophy given to the nation’s top collegiate passer. The man Lewis guided under center for Bowling Green eight years ago is current SDSU quarterbacks coach Matt Johnson.
“Coach Johnson is full of energy and super relatable,” Duffy said. “He played QB for coach Lewis, so he has so much experience within the offense and can help me grow as a player.”
Duffy succinctly summarized the wisdom of Lewis bringing Johnson to The Mesa. Every QB entering the program will want to duplicate Johnson’s success in Lewis’ offense. Who better to lead them in that progression than someone who has competed in the same endevour.
Duffy joins a QB room looking to replace Jalen Mayden as QB1 for the Aztecs. In addition to O’Neil, who plans to enroll early, Duffy will be competing with a solid group of underclassmen. As the roster presently shakes out, there will be six players vying for the top job.
Redshirt freshman Javance Tupou’ata-Johnson and sophomores Tobin O’Dell, Liu Aumavae, and Kyle Crum all are currently set to return for the Aztecs. The trio of sophomores are from the same class as Duffy. Crum is the most experienced player projected to be on the Aztecs spring roster. He has 17 career passes.
Time will allow that competition to play out. For now, Duffy’s return to the Golden State will provide those closest to him a chance to see him play. When he visited SDSU and “committed on the spot,” some of the happiest people lived an hour away in the Inland Empire.
“A bunch of family, friends, and people are hitting me up and super excited to come out to games,” Duffy said. “I’ll be supported very well, and I love that.”
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.