San Diego State Coach Denny Stolz was uncertain Wednesday whether any of San Diego County's top three high school football recruits would sign with the Aztecs, but he was more than happy with the players who had signed.
For the time being, Stolz wanted to divert attention from Vista running back Tommy Booker, Lincoln wide receiver Patrick Rowe and Oceanside linebacker Junior Seau. Even if SDSU doesn't sign any of those three highly rated players, Stolz said the Aztecs had signed an "absolutely super group" of high school players.
Stolz once defined recruiting success as signing 30% of the players who are offered scholarships. Measured by that standard, SDSU was extremely successful.
According to Stolz, the Aztecs have signed 14 of the 21 high school players offered scholarships--and they are still waiting to hear from Booker, Rowe and Seau. The Aztecs will announce their community college recruits later this week.
SDSU already has signed 11 of the 15 local high school recruits it sought, Stolz said. SDSU had never signed more than six local high school players.
The locals are Fallbrook quarterback Scott Barrick, Chula Vista offensive lineman Ian Dunn, Point Loma linebacker Arlando Hill, San Marcos fullback Jim Jennings, Patrick Henry fullback Kevin Macon, Escondido defensive lineman Robert Malsack, Oceanside defensive back Sai Niu, Oceanside linebacker Morey Paul, Hilltop tight end Judd Rachow, Mira Mesa tight end Ray Rowe and Southwest defensive back Johnny Walker.
"All we had to do was win to convince San Diego players to stay," Stolz said. "They'll all come back to San Diego to live. You can't ask great players to stay unless you have a winning program."
The Aztecs, who won their first Western Athletic Conference championship in 1986, also signed three out-of-town players--offensive linemen Doug Blanchard of Huntington Beach Edison and Vince Pellerito of Torrance and defensive lineman Pio Sagapolutele of Honolulu Merryknoll.
Stolz said he thinks 12 of the 14 high school recruits could contribute next season. He declined to evaluate each individual's chances of playing.
Local recruits could help fill SDSU's immediate needs at fullback and tight end. Jennings (6-feet 4-inches and 247 pounds), who rushed for 982 yards last season, could fulfill Stolz's desire for a bruising fullback. Rachow (32 receptions, 430 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Rowe (23-348-2) could compete to replace Rob Awalt at tight end.
Barrick, considered SDSU's top recruit, will redshirt next season. Barrick set a state record by passing for 3,503 yards last season.
"What I like is he knew exactly what he wanted," Stolz said. "He's a dropback quarterback, knew our system and wanted to stay close to home. When I saw him play, he was the kid I wanted. I always have good quarterbacks. I can't coach bad ones. I can only coach good ones."
Blanchard (6-4, 245) was named to the All-Orange County team and is the younger brother of Brett Blanchard, a senior Aztec receiver in 1986. Pellerito, an All-Bay League player as a junior, played in four games last year before breaking his ankle. Sagapolutele was an all-state player in Hawaii.
"Of the 14 players we signed, 12 of them were Pac-10 recruits," Stolz said. "That means they were visited and received offers from Pac-10 schools. We didn't actually recruit against the WAC, to speak of."
The Aztecs were seeking players who could contribute immediately. They lost six starters on both offense and defense and 27 seniors overall.
"We probably have the biggest Division I graduation rate in the country," Stolz said. "Our losses are very heavy from fourth- and fifth-year kids. Many of our young kids think they'll get a chance to play earlier now, which is true. We'll never have this many (young players) at one time again. . . . If you're going to be a freshman here, this is the year to be one."
Name Hometown (High School) Ht. Wt. Pos. Scott Barrick Fallbrook (Fallbrook) 6-3 185 Quarterback Doug Blanchard Huntington Beach (Edison) 6-4 245 Offensive Lineman Ian Dunn Chula Vista (Chula Vista) 6-4 250 Offensive Lineman Arlando Hill San Diego (Point Loma) 6-2 235 Linebacker Jim Jennings San Marcos (San Marcos)) 6-4 247 Running Back Kevin Macon San Diego (Patrick Henry) 6-3 235 Running Back Robert Malsack Escondido (Escondido) 6-4 240 Offensive Lineman Sai Niu Oceanside (Oceanside) 6-0 180 Defensive Back Morey Paul Oceanside (Oceanside) 6-3 185 Defensive Back Vince Pellerito Torrance (Torrance) 6-2 230 Offensive Lineman Judd Rachow Chula Vista (Hilltop) 6-7 220 Tight End Ray Rowe San Diego (Mira Mesa) 6-4 220 Tight End Pio Sagapolutele Honolulu (Merryknoll) 6-6 245 Defensive Lineman Johnny Walker San Diego (Southwest) 6-3 190 Defensive Back