San Diego State University Football is in the air.
The annual San Diego State football Fan Fest and scrimmage is this Saturday, August 19, at Aztec Warrior Stadium, formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium. The players take the field at 5:00 and the scrimmage is set to kick off at 5:30 PM.
With the face of the program and Mountain West pre-season first team all-conference running back, Rashaad Penny, likely sitting out most of the scrimmage, all eyes will be on #2 RB Juwan Washington and the battle for the third back spot. Washington averaged 8.0 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman last year, providing big play sparks to an Aztec offense known for pounding defenses into submission in the run game. Despite his great stat line in 2016, Washington saw little time in the backfield behind a 2,000 and 1,000 yard rusher, and he mostly saw action in the slot. The scrimmage will provide Aztec fans their first real look at the 5’7″ 190 lb running back carrying the load from behind center.
Behind Washington there appears to be a log-jam of unproven talent. Redshirt freshman, Chase Jasmin, should have the job locked up by the end of camp, but don’t count out true freshmen Chance Bell and Kaegun Williams, who have shown great potential in their short time on the Mesa. Senior walk-on Tyler Womhoudt is a thumper who is best used in short-yardage situations and often gets lots of reps in scrimmages as well. Offensive coordinator, Jeff Horton, usually likes to give lots of different backs the opportunity to showcase their abilities in the fan fest scrimmage, so look for carries to be spread out rather evenly.
Junior quarterback, Christian Chapman, has not had a true #1 wide receiver since his arrival to the Mesa. The 2017 squad has more talent and depth at the WR position than previous years, but nobody has emerged as THE guy at the wide receiver position. Seniors Mikah Holder and Quest Truxton appear to be the front-runners, but don’t count out large freshmen targets Tim Wilson Jr. or Isiah Macklin. A dark-horse candidate is big play maker Fred Trevillion, who still needs to show more consistency, but has all the talent to take that next step. Wide receivers coach, Hunkie Cooper, will be keeping a close eye on the competition during the scrimmage to see who has it in them to step up and be the team’s go-to receiving target.
The defense lost a lot of experience last season, losing senior defensive ends Kyle Kelly and Alex Barrett. Filling their shoes are Dakota Turner and Noble Hall, who makes the transition from defensive tackle to end. What some would consider an undersized defensive line, Hall, Turner, and defensive tackle Sergio Philips use their speed and technique to beat opposing lines. Although the offensive line might be shuffling players to see what combination works best, one thing is consistent; they are all huge. The biggest offensive line the trio of defenders face all year could be lined up in front of them, in the fan fest scrimmage. If the line can create pressure and slow down the run game against the mammoth Aztec offensive line, then that bodes well for how they may fare this season.
You may need to grab a program when you enter the stadium prior to the scrimmage, because there are a lot of new, talented names on the Aztec defense. One battle to watch is who will be the second cornerback opposite of senior Kameron Kelly. The battle is likely coming down to Ron Smith and Kyree Woods, two very athletic and talented, but very different players. Smith has the edge in game experience, but Woods has been nipping at his heels for the starting spot all spring and summer. Regardless of who wins the spot, expect a consistent rotation between the top three. Some more new names to be aware of are Dwayne Parchment (5’11” 195 lb safety), Jeff Clay (6’0″ 195 lb safety), and former four star Kyahva Tezino (6’0″ 230 lb linebacker). Parchment and Clay are competing to cement their spot in the secondary two-deep, while Tezino is stepping into an opportunity to make a real name for himself in the Aztec defense. Tezino had a great spring scrimmage and should stand out immediately to Aztec fans for his pursuit to the football and hard hits.
Prior to the scrimmage, the festivities begin at 4:30 on the concourse with the equipment sale, inflatable games, concessions, and appearances from other Aztec athletes. The equipment sale usually draws a long line, so I recommend coming early if you hope to get a jersey or a better selection of gear. The first 2,500 fans will receive a complimentary “One City, One Team” schedule cup.