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Aztec Notebook : Linebacker Santifer Dropped a Second Time

Derek Santifer, who has not lived up to coaches’ expectations since he came to San Diego State last season as one of the most highly recruited community college linebackers in the country, was dropped from the football team Wednesday.

Santifer was removed from the team after he missed practices Tuesday and Wednesday, Coach Denny Stolz said.

It was the second time that Santifer, a senior from Banning High School and Long Beach College, has been dropped from the team. He quit after the third game last season but was reinstated after a one-game suspension and finished with 49 tackles.

“We’ve already given him a second opportunity,” Stolz said in a statement released through the school’s sports information department. “No one has heard from him to explain his absence.”

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Santifer, reached Wednesday night at his San Diego apartment, said he quit the team because he was upset with his reduced role.

Santifer ended spring drills as the first-team weakside linebacker but he was dropped to third team last week and did not play against Air Force.

“Football was no longer fun,” Santifer said. “I was doing it for other people. I wasn’t doing it for myself.”

Injuries to three defensive starters this week might force the Aztecs to significantly alter their lineup for Saturday’s game at Stanford.

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Milt Wilson, a junior end, is listed as doubtful with a sprained ankle sustained against Air Force. Inside linebacker Lee Brannon (bruised thigh) and nose tackle Brad Burton (compound dislocated finger) are listed as questionable.

Todd Coomes, who has started two games at outside linebacker, practiced at defensive end Wednesday to help shore up the defensive line.

The news was better for tailback Paul Hewitt, who sprained his ankle against Air Force in the second quarter but went on to finish with 249 yards and 4 touchdown in a school-record 45 carries. Hewitt was upgraded to probable.

When Stolz was asked before the season what his football program still lacked off the field to become a big-time power, his response was brief--more people in the stands.

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His concern has not changed, especially after the Aztecs drew only 20,112 to their home opener Sunday night against Air Force. And that count included everyone in the stadium, including participants, stadium workers and media members.

It was SDSU’s smallest opening crowd at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium since the Aztecs drew 19,853 in 1983 for a Saturday afternoon game with California.

Part of the reason for the small crowd was the sharp decrease in season ticket sales from last season. Season tickets are down nearly 4,000 to 14,846 from last season’s 18,719, said Vicki Larsen, ticket manager. Student season tickets, which are available free of charge, represent about half of the decline, Larsen said. Student tickets dropped to 2,352 this season from 3,946 in 1987.

The Aztecs drew an average of 22,911 to their home games in 1987 after recording a five-year high average of 31,723 in their Western Athletic Conference championship season of 1986.

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Chris Singleton, a 6-foot 4-inch sophomore guard from Houma, La., did not return to school and will not be a member of the Aztec basketball team, Coach Jim Brandenberg said.

Singleton transferred to SDSU from Delgado Junior College in New Orleans last winter but was not eligible to play until this season because of National Collegiate Athletic Assn. transfer rules.


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