Alonzo Carter smartest hire at SJSU

By Luke Johnson:

Brent Brennan’s smartest move thus far in his first year as San Jose State’s head football coach hasn’t been the hiring of his offensive and defensive coordinators, but has been appointing Alonzo Carter to running backs coach.  

Last week, SJSU announced six new assistant coaches: Carter, Andrew Sowder (offensive coordinator), Joe Bernardi (offensive linemen), Ryan Gunderson (quarterbacks), Kevin Cummings (wide receivers) and Bojay Filimoeatu (linebackers). They will join Derrick Odum, who was hired as defensive coordinator in December.  

The biggest draw to coaching at San Jose State obviously isn’t its prestige or its fan base, but is its potential and proximity. It is located in a hotspot for recruiting high school football players, and Carter has some of the strongest rapport in the Bay Area, especially in the East Bay.

“My East Bay ties and all of the relationships that I have built with coaches over the years was very relevant in the hiring. Me being able to go out and recruit the top skill players in the Bay Area and Northern California is also very relevant,” Carter told The Advocate. “Coach Brennan put his faith in me that I would be successful in whatever position they put me in. It feels good to go out and work for someone who allows you to be you.”

He most recently coached current UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley, who recorded 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, six pass deflections, three forced fumbles and was named First Team All-Pac 12 last season. Many analysts project him to go in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

Carter was the head coach at Contra Costa (Community) College in San Pablo for the past six seasons, where he won four conference championships, was awarded Conference Coach of the Year on three occasions and produced a 42-21 overall record. He was also the head coach for 11 seasons at two high school programs, Berkeley High and McClymonds High (Oakland), and brought home seven league championship banners.

“Everywhere he’s been he’s been a winner,” Brennan said in a press release announcing the hires. “Every team he’s taken over has won. I just know he’ll be a dynamic recruiter for us.”

As a former student at Contra Costa College’s rival school — Los Medanos College of Pittsburg — I was jealous of Carter for years because some of the top local talent would rather commute approximately 40 miles a day to play for him than travel give-or-take five miles to my junior college.

On the current roster, Harris Ross and Kyle Jarvis meet this example. Ross rushed for 1,831 yards, 10.1 yards per carry and 20 touchdowns in just eight games his senior season at Pittsburg High School; Jarvis was a First Team All-League selection at left tackle at Antioch High School and anchored an offensive line that accounted for a school-record 4,416 rushing yards, but both athletes chose Contra Costa College over Los Medanos College. However, that envy toward Carter was filled with nothing but admiration.

While covering high school football in East Contra Costa County for the past four years, I’ve witnessed Carter scouting at Friday-night games more than any other coach. This is an area visited by the best of the best in college football in the past year and has seen the likes of Alabama coach Nick Saban, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh (three times), Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

In college football, great players make great coaches, and the hiring of Alonzo Carter is a step forward in making SJSU football great again.


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