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February 16, 2012Turns out, San Diego State and head coach Rocky Long didn't have to look far to find their new offensive line coach.
Former SDSU offensive lineman and current graduate assistant Mike Schmidt will take over the duties this spring, Long said. And if all goes well, Schmidt could get the promotion and the fulltime job when spring ball concludes next month.
"Mike Schmidt is going to do it for spring practice," Long said. "Whether that's permanent or not will be decided at the end of spring ball."
Schmidt was a former walk-on defensive lineman at SDSU before he switched sides to the offensive line and earned a scholarship in 2007. He was a captain as a senior in 2008 and has been helping the offensive line out as a volunteer and graduate assistant since then.
Long said he'll evaluate Schmidt on the way he coaches, not necessarily how the players perform during spring ball.
"You can be an awful good coach and sometimes your guys don't look good," the head coach said.
The new spot doesn't come with a pay raise yet for Schmidt, although it should, given what he will have to work with this spring. Long said there will only be 10 healthy offensive lineman in camp, and a former tight end is expected to start at the unit's most important position (Bryce Quigley at left tackle). The tackle spot, which Schmidt played at State, is expected to only have four guys available, with only Quigley, Garrett Corbett, Zack Dilley and Paul Rodriguez listed on the depth chart.
SDSU will get reinforcements in the summer, though, with six members of the 2012 signing class expected to enroll, but coaching them up will be an arduous task for even a veteran offensive line coach.
That's why Long, who says he has complete confidence in Schmidt, is still looking around at potential candidates for the summer and fall.
"Not hard," Long said. "But yes, we are continuing to scan."
Long said 13 guys will officially miss spring ball. Five offensive and eight defensive:
-OL Nik Embernate
-OL Alec Johnson
-WR Dominique Sandifer
-RB Walter Kazee
-RB Dwayne Garrett
-LB Ryan Jack
-DL Sam Meredith
-DL Jordan Thomas
-LB Rob Andrews
-LB Vaness Harris
-DB King Holder
-DB Rene Siluano
-DB J.J. Whittaker
The news that they won't practice isn't necessarily awful, Long said. All of the players except Jack have been in SDSU's system for at least a year, so practices aren't that crucial for the injured players. And all but Thomas (Achilles tendon) are expected to be ready by summer ball.
Plus, it will allow the Aztecs a better opportunity to evaluate some of the younger guys on the team.
"What it allows us to do is get a lot of young guys a lot of reps and hopefully develop so we have a good football team next year," Long said.
Still, there are two injuries in particular that are worrisome for Long: Sandifer and Whittaker. Sandifer tore up his knee almost 12 months ago and still has not been cleared to play. Whittaker, meanwhile, has blown out his knee twice and he too hasn't been cleared.
Long said they're both close to 100 percent, but he still is "worried" about the injuries.
Long said outside of the injured guys, three players will not be out with the team when it takes the field next week: tackle Reggie Jones, fullback Brice Heers and defensive lineman Jesse Ben-Ron. All have their own personal reasons for leaving ranging from playing time to school work.
Clarifying the quarterback comments
Long made headlines earlier this month when he openly alluded to the idea that incoming quarterbacks Matt Morin and Chase Favreau, and even veteran QBs such as Chad Jeffries or Adam Dingwell, could move positions in the near future.
He said he may have misspoken and clarified those words on Thursday.
"I might have screwed that up by what I said," the head coach said. "They're all going to be quarterbacks. Any switch in a position from quarterback is down the line quite a ways. But the quarterbacks we've recruited here lately are really good athletes that could play someplace else if they can't make it at quarterback. I don't want to give anybody the impression that those kids didn't come here to be a quarterback. Every one of them came here to be a quarterback."
Speaking of position changes
For some Aztecs, "a position change down the line" is already here. Adam Roberts has moved back from fullback to tight end. John Ghandour has moved from tight end to defensive line. Receiver A.C. Colquitt is now set to play cornerback. And as previously reported, Robert Craighead will move to defensive line while David Lamar will shift to corner.
In a less headline-worthy move, Dilley has also moved from guard / center to tackle.
When asked if Long has thought about getting himself a Twitter account, the head coach emphatically said no. He said he can do everything he wants to do recruiting-wise via email, and has no need for tweeting. "You get the same advantages you get recruiting by email," the head coach said. "You can email them any time you want. No restrictions. And email is more personal." ... Walk-on Joel Alesi will be SDSU's punter this spring, although the Aztecs plan on trying Seamus McMorrow and other walk-ons at the spot later this year. ... Speaking of walk-ons, SDSU announced its spring list, which includes several students who earned there way onto the team via a tryout: RB Paul Sierra, WR Garrett Kale, WR Tim Vizzi, DB Kevin Campano, WR Chris Kane, K Wes Feer and LB Darryl Hunter. ... Long confirmed the leaked picture of SDSU's new helmet design is in fact part of many ideas to revamp the Aztecs' uniforms for their move to the Big East in 2013. ... Long said although Meredith will miss spring ball with an injured shoulder, he has decided to forego his mission this year and will play at SDSU in the fall.
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