San Jose, Calif.----- Taking full advantage of its 2015 AutoNation Cure Bowl victory, the San Jose State University football program is welcoming 19 prospective student-athletes that signed a National Letter-of-Intent. Ron Caragher, the Spartans head coach, made the announcement.
San Jose State's recruiting class covers all offensive and defensive positions with 10 likely to begin their college careers on offense, eight on defense and one kicker.
Versatile all-state quarterback Sam Allen (6-3, 210, SO) who passed for 2,987 yards and 32 touchdowns during his 2015 freshman season at Victor Valley College and California Community College All-America placekicker Jake Lanski (5-9, 200, JR) from Ventura College are enrolled for the spring semester and will participate in spring practice next month. Lanski, who converted 82.5 percent of his field goal attempts over two seasons, also is one of the four incoming Spartans to receive an all-state recognition for the 2015 season.
Two wide receivers, three offensive linemen, two tight ends, a running back and two quarterbacks including Allen are the newest Spartans on the offensive side of the ball. Two linemen, two linebackers and four defensive backs comprise the signees on defense.
"Going into recruiting, we wanted to address every position. We want to get the best available athletes and address our needs -- (this year) pass rush, kicking, and the defensive secondary. I believe we did a very good job in those areas," says Caragher heading into his fourth season as the Spartans head coach.
"One of the big objectives was identifying athletic ability on the defensive side of the football especially in our front seven. We have some guys with outstanding size and athletic ability that will bring good stature to our defensive unit. I think that is very important. On the offensive side of the ball, I'm excited about the good size and strength we are bringing in to the offensive line.
"We wanted to get help in the kicking game, which we addressed with Jake Lanski. He will bring some consistency to that position."
Dante Abono (6-6, 245, FR) from Alhambra High in Martinez and Cameron Alexander (6-5, 225, FR) from Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach are a pair of tall, wiry defensive ends with pass rushing skills and the promise to be assertive at the point of attack.
Noah Faiauga (6-1, 220, FR) from Seattle's Eastside Catholic High and Blake Walls (5-11, 215, FR) from Serra High in Gardena are the two linebacker prospects.
"We also added help in the secondary. The common theme here is size and athletic ability. To be able to play successfully in the Mountain West against the spread offenses and continue having good coverage on the back end of the defense, you have to recruit defensive backs," the Spartans coach said about his four incoming freshmen defensive backs all listed as 6-feet or taller.
Marquise Green (6-1, 190, FR) from Carter High in Rialto, Jonathan Lenard, Jr., (6-1, 180, FR) from Rio Mesa High in Oxnard, Cameron Smith (6-0, 175, FR) from Roosevelt High in Corona, and Tre Webb (6-0, 175, FR) from Anaheim's Servite High are four defensive backs with coverage skills in all phases of the passing game.
Besides Allen, San Jose State balanced its quarterback depth for the present and near future with the signing of all-state signal caller Montel Aaron (6-5, 190, FR) from Antelope (Calif.) High. Aaron completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns and helped his team to a 19-5 win-loss record the last two seasons.
"Sam is actually a 4-for-3, not your traditional 3-for-2 (years of eligibility). We have him longer than the typical JC transfer. And, Montel is a tremendous high school prospect, throws the ball well, and has athletic ability. We're set now for a few years with the addition of Sam and Montel to the quarterback position," says the San Jose State head coach.
Jamar Williams-Sheppard (6-1, 215, FR) from Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco hopes to give the Spartans a productive power ball carrier to complement the team's seven returning running backs.
Billy Humphreys (6-5, 230, FR) of Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks and Cameron Woodard (6-4, 260, FR) are a pair of emerging tight ends that had their best season of pass receiving in 2015.
JaQuan Blackwell (6-2, 190, FR) from Citrus Hill High in Perris and A'Darrus Wilson (6-3, 215, FR) from Morningside High averaged 16.9 and 21.6 yards per catch, respectively, in 2015.
Offensive linemen Mikey Grandy (6-5, 300, FR) from Palo Alto (Calif.) High, Adam Heigis (6-6, 280, FR) from Orange Lutheran High and Jaelen Lewis (6-5, 265, FR), a teammate of quarterback signee Montel Aaron and a CalHi Sports all-state selection for Antelope (Calif.) High complete the signing class.
"Going back to our (Cure Bowl) practices, it made our visits that much better. When these young men came in early December (on their official visit), we had two big weekends of bowl practice. That was a tremendous asset because our recruits got to eyeball our team and get a feel for our players, their position, the tempo of a practice, and got to see some scrimmaging," Caragher recalled. "It started there, continued through the experience of being in Orlando and the result of the game. It was all very favorable for the San Jose State Spartans' 2016 recruiting class."
San Jose State will begin spring practice on March 11 with 17 returning starters among 40 letterwinners from the 2015 AutoNation Cure Bowl champions.