TE Jacob Alvarez in the eye of the recruiting storm


Credit: Jacob Alvarez

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San Diego State’s social media campaign for the Class of 2025. (Credit X.com @AztecFB)

Recruiting in college football is complex. The moving parts involved in roster management are an illuminating example.

Athletes compete for most of their lives to earn a scholarship, but offers can be contingent on many factors. Players might be a second or third option at a position, and a school will not accept a commitment until they see what the athletes higher on their board do.

For schools without huge NIL endowments, their ability to bring in players is capped at the 85-player scholarship limit. SDSU lost LSU transfer Connor Gilbreath to Boise State largely because they asked him to walk on in the fall. According to Gilbreath, the Broncos had a scholarship available now, so he is competing in Boise.

While there is talk about limiting roster sizes in the future, deeper-pocketed schools are currently using NIL to work around the 85-player scholarship limit. A normal practice across the industry is to give the equivalent of a scholarship through NIL to walk-ons so schools can bring in more talent.

In Gilbreath’s case, no one was higher than him at his position on SDSU’s board. The Aztecs simply elected to reserve their final scholarship for a defensive lineman.

With the transfer portal, fewer full rides are available for high school athletes. The commitment of any player sends ripples through a recruiting class.

This backdrop provides the context to understand the urgency for some Class of 2025 athletes visiting The Mesa later this month. Like a game of musical chairs, players don’t want to be left standing when their preferred destination runs out of spots.

Murrieta Valley TE Jacob Alvarez (6-foot-5, 250 pounds)

Local tight end Jacob Alvarez is in the midst of this storm. From a plethora of about a dozen offers from programs around the country, he narrowed his list down to a final four of Kansas, Washington State, SMU, and SDSU.

“I talked with all the coaches and let all of them know how I was feeling, and some of the coaches weren’t feeling the same way that I was,” Alvarez told EVT this week about the timing of naming his finalists. “I just took care of the coaches that were treating me right.”

Jacob Alvarez’s announcement of his official visit to SDSU. (Credit: X.com @JacobAlvarez_10)

Alvarez had this to say about the schools he is still considering.

“Start with San Diego State. I was born and raised in San Diego, so that’s the hometown school. I could be a hometown kid going to the hometown school. I love their coaches, especially (associate head) coach (Zac) Barton. He’s a genius when it comes to the tight end room.”

“Kansas is just big-time football down there. You can’t be scared of competition.”

“Washington State: (tight end) coach (Nick) Whitworth came down to my school a couple of years back and told me that he was really interested. So, I just had to let him know that I was interested, and then he dropped the offer.”

“SMU: after my trip from Dallas on my unofficial visit, I knew that place is legit. Going to the ACC, it’s just like a whole other level of football over there.”

The Mustangs and Aztecs are narrowly ahead of the Jayhawks and Cougars because they have scheduled official visits with him. Kansas has a big weekend planned for June 21-23 that they invited Alverez to attend, but he was already scheduled to come to SDSU that weekend.

KU and WSU are still working to schedule a visit with him. If they can’t get him on campus, their chances of landing the talented athlete diminish.

On trips, athletes not only have the pressure of weighing where to live potentially for the next half-decade but also the burden of pulling the trigger before others take their offer. This often overlooked part of the recruiting process is the norm and has as much to do with the shape of a class as any other factor.

Alvarez’s first visit is to SMU starting on Monday. There’s little doubt the Mustangs want to get a commitment from him before he leaves Dallas on Wednesday. If he does, SDSU will have one fewer player on campus next weekend.

“I’m looking for the best place that I can develop, and all the coaches know what they’re talking about,” Alvarez explained. “I’m just there to develop and become the best person, best player, (and) best human that I can possibly be.”

A great addition to any school

College coaches across America love Alvarez’s potential. He had early offers from Miami and Ole Miss, but the numbers crutch at those schools didn’t break in his favor. If spots also dry up at any of his finalists, it will have little to do with the elite level at which he competes. When Alvarez commits, he will take an opportunity away from another worthy athlete.

However the numbers break down in Alvarez’ specific case, only he and the schools he’s connected to will ultimately know. But, wherever he lands will get a terrific player who could make whoever misses out on him regret not prioritizing him more.

Just as the schools that did not follow through with their offer do not reflect negatively on Alverez, his choice of a program will not mean he did not value the relationships he formed with the coaches of his runner-ups.

SMU offensive coordinator/ tight ends coach Casey Woods challenged Alvarez early in the process about the sacrifice elite athletes make to be great at their craft. In answering that call, Alvarez has consistently put in extra training on and off the field to maximize his talent. Woods was the catalyst for this maturity in Alvarez.

The Temecula area star also had glowing things to say about SDSU’s tight-end coach.

“(Barton)’s one of the coolest guys that I know, especially being a coach that relates to his players,” Alvarez said. “He came down to one of my practices one time and was just sitting with my parents and talking about life. So, I think that’s someone that I would want to play with that can relate to his players.”

Associate Head Coach Zac Barton at practice. (Credit: SDSU Athletics)

The significance of those relationships will be unchanged even though Alvarez might not play under Barton or Woods in college. Though unnoticed by the general public, coaches’ impact on young athletes that they meet during the recruiting process is significant and can last a lifetime.

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Alvarez On the field

Alvarez already displays many winning attributes that teams need from their tight ends. Players of his size can maul their high school opponents, which can mask their blocking limitations. Alvarez has terrific feet that should translate to early playing time at the next level.

He moves well enough that he played a little running back for Chaparral High School last season. More than just a bruising tailback, Alvarez made players miss with nimble jukes in the hole. Quickness, as much as top-end speed, separates the best tight ends.

Chaparral utilized that athleticism by lining Alvarez up all over their formations as a receiver and a blocker. That versatility is exactly what colleges like SDSU want from the position.

Jacob Alvarez working out this offseason. (Credit: Jacob Alvarez)

“I would say really physical, dominant in the run game,” Alvarez said when asked to describe his game. “People like to tell me that I’m a little bit slow, but I think I can catch a ball and get out. … if you watch the tape, you’ll see big plays.”

According to Max Preps, Alvarez has 45 receptions for 560 yards and six touchdowns in three varsity seasons so far in his career. Even in this small sample size, he displayed the most essential aspects as a receiver at the position.

Alvarez was a threat in the red zone, as a safety net when pressure got to the quarterback, and made catches in the air and with defenders on his back. His numbers might look pedestrian but considering Chaparell’s offensive style and the position, they are not as mediocre as they appear at first glance.

Current SDSU TE Michael Harrison caught 31 passes for SDSU head coach Sean Lewis at Colorado last year. That ranked 37th in the country at the position but just 316th overall among all pass-catchers. Only one TE, Colorado State’s Dollin Holker, ranked in the top 75 in the country in receptions in 2023. His 64 catches placed him at No. 50 nationally. With a few exceptions, tight ends are blockers first and pass catchers second. Alvarez can do both.

This upcoming season should see more production from Alvarez as a receiver. After Chaparral and Washington commit QB Dash Beierley transferred to Mater Dei Santa Ana, Alvarez left for Murrieta Valley. There, he will team with Stanford commit QB Bear Bachmeier in a more uptempo offensive attack that should provide him with more opportunities.

Provided Kansas and Washington State don’t add more trips to his calendar, Alvarez said he plans to commit after his official visits to SMU and SDSU. Wherever he ends up, it might not be for the most apparent reasons because college recruiting is always more than meets the eye.

2 thoughts on “TE Jacob Alvarez in the eye of the recruiting storm

  1. Great article! I believe the recruiting process needs to be re-evaluated. As you mentioned in your article, high school players are often overlooked. I understand that if I were recruiting for a college team, I might prioritize players with some college experience. However, in my opinion, players should choose a college where they will benefit the most both academically and athletically. The key question they should ask themselves is: where will I be the happiest?

    1. Thanks for checking out the article. … I agree with your ideas at all points, but it’s hard for a kid to have perspective when the adults around them don’t have it.

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