Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com
By: Ana Kieu
The San Jose State University football team added unprecedented firepower to its offense and passionate playmakers to its defense at the start of the early National Letter of Intent signing period for the 2019 season.
For the first time, SJSU signed a quarterback that passed for more than 100 touchdowns and 10,000 yards in a high school career, inked a running back prospect who rushed for more than 50 touchdowns as a junior and a senior, and added four players that averaged more than 20 yards a catch in their senior seasons. Two of those big play pass catchers are heading to the defensive side, according to Spartans head coach Brent Brennan.
“I was showing our players this week the highlight tapes of these players and they were blown away how good they are. This group of playmakers makes us all excited about what we’re doing for the future,” says Brennan, who is entering his third season as the Spartans’ head coach.
“We’re adding some great young men to our program. Part of our criteria is figuring out if they love football, how hard they work, digging and diving into their character. All the assistant coaches did a great job putting this group together. It’s got a nice mix of young playmakers on offense to balance out some of our skill positions that are currently manned by upperclassmen.”
“And we were able to add some good pieces in terms of the physical part of the game in the offensive line and linebacker.”
13 players signed to become a member of the SJSU program as early as the 2019 spring semester. Nine of them are slated for offensive positions, two are linebacker candidates, and two are ticketed to defensive back roles. Current tight end Derrick Deese, Jr., who redshirted the 2018 season, signed a SJSU scholarship offer.
Quarterback Alec Trujillo completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 11,671 yards and 116 touchdowns and ran for 19 touchdowns in one of the most productive high school careers in California’s Central Section first for Exeter High and then for San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno, which played in the 2018 CIF Division 2-A championship game. He threw 50 touchdown passes in his senior year alone.
“Alec has been an incredible player throughout his career and it’s exciting he’s chosen to be with us. We identified him early in the recruiting process. He throws a fantastic ball. He’s got good feet. He just lit it up throwing for San Joaquin Memorial,” said Brennan.
Running back Adi Anderson from McClymonds High in Oakland is one of two Spartan signees to return home with a 2018 CIF state championship. He averaged 10.8 yards per carry on just over eight carries a game and still rushed for 21 touchdowns as a senior. That was on top of the 31 rushing touchdowns he scored the year before playing for Hayward’s Moreau Catholic High.
Wide receivers Malikhi Miller of El Cerrito High, Isaiah Holiness of Redlands East Valley High and Jamar Simpson of Rancho Verde High, earned reputations as touchdown terrors to their opponents. Miller averaged nearly 29 yards a reception in his last two high school seasons and scored a touchdown about once every third time he caught a pass.
Holiness caught 163 passes for 2,293 yards and 18 touchdowns and was even more dangerous as a return specialist. He averaged 47.4 yards a kickoff return and 30.7 in three varsity seasons. As a senior, Simpson averaged 27.4 yards a catch and scored 13 times on just 36 receptions.
“You’re always looking for guys who can change a game when the ball is in their hands. At almost 11 yards a carry, obviously good things happen when Adi gets the ball. We’re hoping he can be a home run hitter for us. Jamar Simpson has great acceleration, great playmaking ability,” says Brennan.
“You watch Malikhi’s tape. He’s got this great young body and I think he can be that big body wideout who can control a game with. Isaiah Holiness is a slash type of player. He’s dynamic as a runner, receiver, and he’s returned kicks for touchdowns.”
“I’m excited there are so many guys who signed with us that played in (high school) state championship games. They come from winning programs. They know what it takes to win.”
Trujillo, Anderson, defensive back candidate Stan Livingstone, and offensive linemen Jelani Newman from Saguaro High, and first-team California Community College All-America Scott Breslin from Ventura College are incoming Spartans that played in a 2018 state championship game.
Offensive linemen Justin Scrempos from Milpitas High and graduate transfer Quinn Oseland from the University of Minnesota are two more signees to play on state championship teams. Scrempos was a force on the 2017 Vikings that won the CIF Division 4A Championship, averaging 41.1 points a game. Oseland played on two Sacred Heart Griffin High, Class 5A state championship teams.
Cameron Hanson from Southwestern College, a second-team All-Southern Conference selection and two-time bowl game winner, and Jordan Cobbs, credited with 26.0 tackles for loss his last two seasons at San Leandro High, are a pair of linebackers joining the Spartans.
Safety B.J. Johnson, the 2018 Redwood League Co-MVP from Montgomery High, rounds out SJSU’s signees on the first day of the current NIH signing period.
“The recruiting process has really changed with the early signing date. The coaching staff did a great job being organized at the end of the season. We spent a lot of time during the season recruiting, watching film, calling, texting and being on social media with recruits, writing letters, continuing to build relationships because the early signing day has been moved up six weeks,” concluded Brennan, who will have Livingstone and Oseland available to participate in 2019 spring practice set to begin on March 3.