With the Spartans coming off a 2-11 season, they have many areas of growth for the upcoming season. 2nd year head coach Brent Brennan will continue to try and rebuild San Jose State. Since spring practice has started this week we will take a look at the some of the toughest players for the Spartans to replace and also a very early look at the depth chart.
Toughest Players to Replace:
Frank Ginda LB– As Ginda prepares for the NFL draft, the Spartans will have to find a new middle linebacker. Last season’s NCAA leader in tackles will surely be missed on the Spartans as San Jose State will have to replace 173 tackles from last season. Most likely his spot will be taken by either by Tysyn Parker, who saw a good amount of action as a freshman, or Ethan Aguayo who also played sparingly last season and is entering his junior season. The production Ginda had last season will be exteremly hard to replicate, but Parker looked like he could be a great piece moving forward as long as he continues to develop.
Andre Chachere, Jermaine Kelly, Maurice McKnight DB– All 3 of these players will be missed in the San Jose State secondary. As 3 year starters at corner and safety Andre and Maurice were solid pieces in the Spartans defense. Chachere will be participating in the NFL combine this weekend as Dakari Monroe and Brandon Ezell try to fill in for Chachere and Kelly. Chandler Hawkins and Tre Webb will battle it out for the safety spot left open by McKnight. With 3 new starters and a new DB coach in Aric Williams, this will certainly be something to keep an eye on this off-season.
Keoni Taylor OL– Also another 3 year starter who could play center and guard who will be surely missed on the offensive line. Since becoming a starter his sophomore season he had been an anchor on the Spartans line making the most starts at center for San Jose State in 10 years. Not only will the offense have to replace him but also 2 other offensive linemen in Nate Velichko and Chris Gonzalez. One player who will surely obtain one of those spots is Dominick Fredrickson, who has seen time on both the offensive and defensive line last season. A couple other names to look for who might fill in for Taylor are Charles Nelson and Jake Coleman who will both be seniors heading into the season. Either way the coaching staff will have 3 new starters on the line which at first sounds like it could be rough but with the struggles the Spartans had last season it might turn out to be a good thing.
Micheal Carrizosa P– I struggled whether or not to put him on this list but specialist are people too and he was a great one. A two time Ray Guy award finalist, Carrizosa’s ability to flip field position was a huge asset to the Spartans. Trying to find someone who will put up punting numbers like his will be hard to find, which is why he is one of the toughest to replace. On previous depth charts the starting kicker Bryce Crawford was listed as the backup punter, so this is an area to keep an eye on to see who the team brings in to be the next punter.
Early look at the depth chart:
QB: Montel Aaron SO – Although it was a rotating door at QB last season due to injuries and inconsistent play for the Spartans, Aaron looked like he was the best play-maker with his arm and feet. Going into Spring ball it is more than likely his spot to lose. He will have to limit turnovers and continue to be able to keep drives moving for the Spartans for them to be successful at all. Backing him up will be last years back up, who did have a couple of starts, Josh Love.
RB: Tyler Nevins SO– At the beginning of the season Nevins was not even listed on the 4 deep depth chart but by the end of the season he was one of the only bright spots for the Spartans. Nevins lead the Spartans with 163 carries and 670 yards. Out of all positions running back may be one area the Spartans are covered, as Malik Roberson, Dejon Packer,and Zamore Zigler all return also. Nevins may be the feature back, but it would not surprise me if Roberson and Packer factor into the offense. Roberson was 2nd on the team with 87 carriers last season and 4th was Packer with 59. Zigler will be a factor in the offense also as he was second on the team in rushing yards with 351. All four of these backs averaged at least 4 yards per carry with Zigler leading them at 5 yards per carry.
WR: Justine Holmes SR, Tre Walker SO, Tre Hartley SR- All 3 starting receivers from last season return, along with Jaquan Blackwell, Bailey Gaither, and Rahshead Johnson all return for the upcoming season. The Spartans will return the majority of the production at receiver from last season. Tre Hartley lead last season in receptions 37, and recieving yards at 527. With so many receivers getting starts last year the Spartans had 6 receivers catch at least 20 passes last season so figuring out who will start will be something to watch this spring.
TE: Josh Oliver SR– The Spartans will retain the majority of the production from the tight end position as Oliver returns for his second season starting. Also backup Billy Humphreys will back for his sophomore season.
OL: Troy Kowalski JR, Jackson Snyder SO, Dominick Fredrickson JR, Charles Nelson SR, Jake Colman SR, – This will be one of the most important groups to solidify for the upcoming season with the departure of 3 multi year starters for the Spartans. Kowalski and Snyder return after starting last season and Fredrickson has some experience filling in the offensive live. Other than those 3 players, everyone else on the team has very limited action at the D1 level. Filling in the interior of the line will be important for San Jose State to have any success this upcoming season.
DL:Bryson Bridges SR, Owen Roberts SR, Sailosi Latu SR– All 3 starters on the defensive line return with Bryson Bridges leading the charge. Bridges missed some time last season due to injury but he should be one highlight on the defense in the upcoming season.
LB: Tysn Parker SO, Jamal Scott SR, Ethan Aguayo JR, Rico Tolefree SO– The departure of Frank Ginda will leave a huge hole in the middle for the Spartans. Returning starters include Tysn Parker and Jamal Scott but Ethan Aguayo has also had a good amount of playing experience. Aguayo was third on the team in tackles last season. The 4th linebacker spot will be an area to keep an eye on this spring.
CB: Dakari Monroe SR, Brandon Ezell SR– While he was not listed as a starter for the entire season, Monroe has made some starts in the past and has the most game experience out of all the corners. He also lead the team in interceptions last season. The spot opposite Monroe may be wide open with the new position coach coming in this off-season.
S: Jonathan Lenard, Jr SO, Tre Webb SO– Jonathan Lenard returns for his sophomore season after starting about half of last season’s games. Tre Webb is in line to fill in for McKnight but do not be surprised if junior Trevon Bierria gets a look also as he has started some games also.