San Diego State Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates

San Diego State Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates

Mountain West Football

San Diego State Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates


San Diego State Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates

The Aztecs figure to be as tough as ever in 2022. These guys could be big reasons why.

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It’s a reload, not a rebuild.

The San Diego State Aztecs had one of their best seasons ever in 2021 and now face the task of defending the West division crown without the help of Cameron Thomas, Matt Araiza, Greg Bell, and others. That might seem like a tall task at first glance, but Brady Hoke and the rest of the coaching staff have recruited as well as anyone over the last few years and, as a result, the Aztecs are still pretty flush with talent.

With that in mind, who’s worth keeping an eye on as Aztecs who could burst onto the Mountain West scene this fall?

Chance Bell, RB

San Diego State typically makes its name with a strong running game and while that particular cupboard is well-stocked with explosive players like Jordan Byrd and rising contributors like Jaylen Armstead, Bell could be the one who makes the whole thing go in 2022. He’s long proven that he can be a rock solid contributor with 4.7 yards per attempt and nine touchdowns on 257 carries over the last four seasons, spelling Juwan Washington and Greg Bell in that time, but what’s most intriguing is that he has 33 carries of at least ten yards, a 12.8% rate that’s slightly better than what Bell and Washington (12%) managed in their years as a starter ahead of him.

CJ Baskerville, S

You may not have noticed that Baskerville took off once he cracked the starting lineup in SDSU’s final four games of 2021. In that stretch, he collected 29 tackles, two passes defended and an interception, which enabled him to finish the year with the second-best grade of any qualifying safety in the Mountain West (81.0) according to Pro Football Focus.

Is he the next great Aztecs defensive back? There are a lot of reasons to think Baskerville is just that.

Michael Shawcroft, LB

Shawcroft has made steady progress in his three seasons with the Aztecs, contributing first on special teams as a true freshman in 2019 before moving into the linebacker rotation a year later and then earning an all-conference honorable mention nod in 2021 with 55 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks. Most intriguingly, he also received the highest PFF grade (66.5) of any returning San Diego State linebacker, so after spending the second half of 2021 in the starting lineup, he should be a name you hear often on Saturdays this fall.

Jonathan Harrison, OT

It’s never easy to replace a NFL-caliber offensive lineman, but if you have to do it then you could do a lot worse than a former three-star recruit who, coincidentally enough, attended the same high school as said pro lineman. Such is the case for Harrison, a product from local Carlsbad High School who was one of the top prospects in San Diego State’s 2020 class. It’s likely he’ll be tasked with stepping into Zachary Thomas’s shoes at left tackle, but at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, he has the requisite size and power to step in and cause grief for edge rushers everywhere.



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