By Oscar Acevedo:
One of the oldest mantras in football is “Defense wins championships.” If the San Jose State Spartans hope to jump back into Mountain West title contention, then having young, skilled players who are determined to make a name for themselves and their school will help the process.
In the 2016 season, SJSU allowed 435 yards per game which included 246 rushing yards per game. The weakness against the run allowed teams to take control of games and left the Spartans without an answer to Mountain West running backs.
“We just need some guys that like to run and hit, and knock people down,” said Brent Brennan during his National Letter of Intent Day press conference.
He may have found the players he was looking for in the trenches.
Jamaar Hardy, from Deer Valley in Antioch, had 8.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble his senior year. The 6-foot-3-inch and 256-pound defensive end is quick to shed blocks and is a sure tackler. Hardy is able to make powerful moves that could help solidifying up his side of the D-Line.
Hardy was given a two star and a 0.789 rating from 247sports and voted 1st team all-league for the Blossom Valley Athletic League.
Sinjun Astani, who officially committed to SJSU from Loyola is a strong-side defensive end, standing at 6-foot-4-inches. He thrives on football IQ and is able to deal with double teams and make the right decision. A run rarely passes him and plays often end with him putting someone in the dirt. Astani earned a two star and 0.739 rating from 247sports.
JUCO product Brando Philips (also listed in our linebackers breakdown) is a strong-side, versatile defensive end and the first thing that can be seen from his tape is his killer speed. Before the other team’s quarterback has chance to think about how to react to a defender already in his face, Phillips has the ability to create panic and wreck gameplans. A player with that quick of a first step could lead game changing plays and costly mistakes for the opposing team. Philips earned a two-star and 0.75 rating from 247sports.
The final defensive line signee, Christian Johnson, is an intimidating 6-foot-5-inches. Johnson’s size and strength is easily seen in his highlight tape, pushing back offensive linemen with ease. When it comes to defending the run, Johnson’s long reach allows him to stop plays in his direction and also gives him the a mismatch on the field, leading to blocked kicks, interceptions and sacks. Johnson was given two-stars and a 0.785 rating by 247sports.
The new class of defensive linemen all give different skillsets that Brennan could help develop into difference-making players.