Aztecs ’2022 post-spring football depth chart brings some clarity to lineup

Spring practice is often where backups finally get an opportunity because graduation has opened up a starting spot at their position.

That dynamic has been dramatically changed in recent years because of the NCAA transfer portal, which allows teams to immediately reload rather than rely on younger players already in the program.

In fact, five of the six Division I transfers San Diego State added during the offseason – left guard Cade Bennett, quarterback Braxton Burmeister, linebacker Cooper McDonald, tight end Mark Redman and defensive tackle Justus Tavai – are listed as starters on the 2022 post- spring depth chart SDSU released Monday.

The sixth transfer – defensive end Deven Lamp – missed most of practice after requiring surgery for a sports hernia and is listed as third-string DE. Even healthy, Lamp would have been hard-pressed to earn a starting role with super senior Keshawn Banks a four-year starter there.

A look at the post-spring depth chart, along with some comments ”

(^ Utilizing extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA due to COVID-19; Players in bold are returning starters from the 2021 season; * indicates number of letters earned):

Offense

◆ Burmeister earned the starting position over redshirt freshman Will Haskell coming out of camp, no doubt getting a leg up on Haskell and others after starting 20 games – including 12 last season at Virginia Tech – during his college career.

◆ With no clear-cut No. 1 running back to replace the departed Greg Bell, expect the Aztecs to run by committee. Super seniors Chance Bell and Jordan Byrd are co-starters, though Jaylon Armstead and Cam Davis are expected to get significant carries.

◆ Senior wide receiver Tyrell Shavers was third-string out of camp a year ago after transferring from Mississippi State, but made great strides to move into a starting role. Shavers joins veteran Jesse Matthews as SDSU’s 1-2 go-to guys.

Senior TJ Sullivan also gets an opportunity for a prime-time role after playing sparingly (7 career catches) the past three seasons.

Junior Brionne Penny had a breakout performance in the Spring Game with three touchdown catches and appears poised to make an impact as well.

◆ Position battles on the left side of the line still loom with “OR” listed at both tackle and guard, though sophomore Jonathan Harrison and Bennett, respectively, appear to have the edge at each spot.

LEFT TACKLE (LT)

62 Jonathan Harrison, 6-5, 320, So. * OR

71 Zavier Leonard, 6-4, 315, Fr.-RS

LEFT GUARD (LG)

60 Cade Bennett, 6-3, 315, So.-TR OR

67 Kyle Trombley, 6-5, 315, Jr.-SQ

70 Christian Jones, 6-9, 350, Fr.-RS

CENTER (C)

72 ^Alama Uluave6-2, 305, Sr. ****

68 Thomas Mirabella, 6-4, 305, So.-SQ

RIGHT GUARD (RG)

63 Ross Ulugalu-Maseuli, 6-4, 340, Fr.-RS

79 Joey Wright, 6-5, 320, So.-SQ

RIGHT TACKLE (RT)

61 Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson6-6, 320, Jr. *

79 Joey Wright, 6-5, 320, So.-SQ OR

77 Josh Simmons, 6-6, 330, Fr.-RS

TIGHT END (TE-Y)

81 Mark Redman, 6-6, 250, Jr.-TR

94 Aaron Greene, 6-4, 255, So. *

47 JP Murphy, 6-4, 220, Fr.-RS

TIGHT END (TE-H)

82 Jay Rudolph, 6-4, 245, Jr. **

87 Gus McGee, 6-5, 245, Fr.-RS

49 Cameron Harpole, 6-4, 205, Fr.-RS

89 Logan Tanner, 6-3, 225, Fr.-HS

QUARTERBACK (QB)

5 Braxton Burmeister, 6-1, 205, Sr.-TR

3 Will Haskell, 6-4, 200, Fr.-RS OR

9 Kyle Crum, 6-3, 190, Fr.-HS OR

4 Liu Aumavae, 6-3, 195, Fr.-HS

17 Marshall Eucker, 6-5, 225, So.-SQ

RUNNING BACK (RB-T)

21 ^ Chance Bell, 5-10, 185, Sr. **** OR

15 ^ Jordan Byrd, 5-9, 170, Sr. ****

38 Jaylon Armstead, 5-11, 235, So *

29 Cam Davis, 5-8, 180, Fr.-RS

35 Martin Blake, 5-6, 200, Fr.-HS

30 Lucky Avinger, 6-1, 205, Sr.-SQ

26 Nicholas Gardinera, 5-10, 195, Fr.-HS

RUNNING BACK (RB-F)

15 ^ Jordan Byrd, 5-9, 170, Sr. **** OR

29 Cam Davis, 5-8, 180, Fr.-RS

WIDE RECEIVER (Z)

45 Jesse Matthews6-0, 190, Sr. ***

83 Mekhi Shaw, 5-10, 170, So. *

41 Phillippe Wesley II, 6-0, 185, Fr.-RS

WIDE RECEIVER (H)

80 TJ Sullivan, 6-0, 200, Sr. **

84 Darius De Los Reyes, 5-9, 170, So. *

85 Josh Nicholson, 6-0, 175, Fr.-RS

WIDE RECEIVER (X)

14 Tyrell Shavers, 6-6, 210, Sr. *

11 Brionne Penny, 6-3, 185, Jr.-SQ

86 Ronald Gilliam, 6-2, 200, So.-SQ

DEFENSE

◆ With seven starters returning, there aren’t many holes to fill.

The biggest challenge is replacing Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Cameron Thomas, who declared early for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Justus Tavai, a starter last season at Hawaii, jumps in to join brother Jonah Tavai up front.

Likewise, Washington transfers Cooper McDonald joins brother Caden McDonald at linebacker.

◆ The most intrigue is at cornerback, where starters Dallas Branch and Noah Tumblin are being challenged by Dezjhon Malone and Noah Avinger, respectively.

DEFENSIVE END (DE)

66 ^Jonah Tavai6-4, 295, Sr. *** OR

39 Garret Fountain, 6-4, 240, Jr. **

45 Wyatt Draeger, 6-4, 260, Jr. ** OR

58 Pa’a Ewaliko, 6-4, 235, Fr.-RS

59 Keion Mitchell, 6-4, 235, Fr.-RS

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (DT)

66 ^Jonah Tavai6-4, 295, Sr. *** OR

91 ^ Justus Tavai, 6-3, 295, Sr.-TR

95 Nassir Sims, 6-2, 275, Jr. *

97 Darrion Daulton, 6-3, 280, Fr.-RS

92 Jaylin Dickerson, 6-6, 240, Jr.-TR

DEFENSIVE END (DE)

2 ^Keshawn Banks6-4, 265, Sr. ****

90 Daniel Okpoko, 6-5, 265, Sr. *

93 Dylan Taylor, 6-3, 245, Jr.-SQ OR

52 ^ Deven Lamp, 6-5, 255, Sr.-TR

98 Avory Iosefa-Hart, 6-5, 245-RS

“SAM” LINEBACKER (SLB)

54 ^Caden McDonald6-3, 235, Sr. **** OR

55 Cooper McDonald, 6-3, 245, Jr.-TR

57 Darrell Masaniai, 6-2, 220, So.-SQ

30 Dominic Oliver, 6-3, 220, Fr.-RS

MIKE LINEBACKER (MLB)

54 ^Caden McDonald6-3, 235, Sr. **** OR

43 ^ Seyddrick Lakalaka, 6-1, 235, Sr. ****

51 Zyrus Fiaseu, 6-0, 220, Fr.-RS

56 DJ Herman, 6-2, 235, Fr.-RS

“WILL” LINEBACKER (WLB)

46 Michael Shawcroft6-2, 220, Sr. *** OR

43 ^ Seyddrick Lakalaka, 6-1, 235, Sr. ****

44 Vai Kaho, 6-1, 225, Jr. ** OR

36 New Zealand Williams, 6-2, 200, Fr.-RS

42 Brady Anderson, 6-2, 220, So. *

FIELD CORNERBACK (CB)

32 Dezjhon Malone, 6-2, 200, So. * OR

12 Dallas Branch5-11, 180, Sr. **

35 Jelani Whitmore, 6-2, 175, So.-SQ

22 Jaiden Brown, 6-0, 160, Fr.-RS

FIELD WARRIOR (FW)

27 Cedarious Barfield5-11, 195, Sr. ***

31 Davaughn Celestine, 6-0, 195, Jr. *

37 DJ Bryant, 6-0, 175, Fr.-RS

AZTEC (AZ)

33 Patrick McMorris6-0, 210, Sr. ***

11 Jatavious Magee, 6-1, 170, Fr.-RS

18 Jalen Mayden, 6-3, 230, Jr.-SQ

40 Kristien Reyes, 5-10, 195, Jr.-TR

BOUNDARY WARRIOR (BW)

34 CJ Baskerville, 6-2, 200, So. *

19 Kyron White, 5-11, 195, Jr. **

23 Isaiah McElvane, 6-0, 185, Jr. **

BOUNDARY CORNERBACK (CB)

17 Noah Avinger, 6-1, 175, So. * OR

10 Noah Tumblin6-2, 180, Jr. **

48 Adonis Brown, 6-0, 185, Sr.-SQ

16 Cassius Savage, 6-1, 165, So.-SQ

26 Joshua Goynes, 5-10, 170, Fr.-RS

Special teams

◆ Junior Jack Browning succeeds Ray Guy Award winner Matt Araiza, who set a national record last season with a 51.19-yard punt average, then declared early for the draft.

Browning is penciled in to handle all three specialties – punting, kickoffs and place-kicks – though it wouldn’t be surprising if junior David Delgado gets a chance to kick field goals if the load is deemed too much for Browning.

◆ Byrd is back to return kicks and points, but Penny will also get an opportunity to return kickoffs. Older brother Rashaad Penny returned seven kickoffs for touchdowns in his career (tied for second in school history), which gives Brionne something to shoot for the next couple years.

PUNTER (P)

13 Jack Browning, 5-11, 185, Jr. *

49 Collyn Hopkins, 6-2, 215, Fr.-RS

PLACEKICKER (PK)

13 Jack Browning, 5-11, 185, Jr. * OR

41 David Delgado, 5-10, 165, Jr.-SQ OR

49 Collyn Hopkins, 6-2, 215, Fr.-RS

KICKOFFS (KO)

13 Jack Browning, 5-11, 185, Jr. *

49 Collyn Hopkins, 6-2, 215, Fr.-RS

41 David Delgado, 5-10, 165, Jr.-SQ

HOLDER (H)

41 David Delgado, 5-10, 165, Jr.-SQ OR

13 Jack Browning, 5-11, 185, Jr. *

LONG SNAPPER (LS)

50 Ryan Wintermeyer6-1, 205, So. *

64 Tyson Chavez, 6-2, 225, Fr.-HS

SHORT SNAPPER (SS)

50 Ryan Wintermeyer, 6-1, 205, So. *

64 Tyson Chavez, 6-2, 225, Fr.-HS

KICKOFF RETURNS (KOR)

15 ^Jordan Byrd5-9, 170, Sr. ****

11 Brionne Penny, 6-3, 185, Jr.-SQ

29 Cam Davis, 5-8, 180, Fr.-RS

84 Darius De Los Reyes, 5-9, 170, So. *

RETURN POINT (PR)

15 ^Jordan Byrd5-9, 170, Sr. ****

45 Jesse Matthews, 6-0, 190, Sr. ***

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