SAN DIEGO — When Denny Stolz was named San Diego State's football coach, he promised to put the San Diego back into recruiting.
Evidently, Stolz wasn't kidding. The Aztecs have received local verbal commitments from five high school and one junior college player who are expected to sign letters of intent today.
"San Diego State really got in here late because of the coaching change," said Mike Dolan, San Pasqual coach. "But we've seen more recruiters from there this year than in the last five years total."
Jason Bill, a San Pasqual offensive lineman, is among the locals committed to SDSU. Others are Demetrius Bell, Morse offensive lineman; Daryl Crawford, Montgomery running back; Joe Smylie, Mesa College fullback and linebacker; David Woodhouse, Bonita Vista linebacker; and Tom Wurth, Monte Vista kicker.
The Aztecs have not signed five local high school players since 1979, Claude Gilbert's second to last season as head coach. Doug Scovil, who coached SDSU from 1981 to 1985, was often criticized by local coaches for neglecting San Diego-area players.
"The (new) coaches said they would go after locals a lot more, and they have," Bill said. "I think that's good. Coach Stolz said he thought there was a lot of talent around here. He felt San Diego State was a time bomb waiting to explode."
Crawford was the most explosive player among the local recruits last season, rushing for a county-leading 1,498 yards. He was converted from wide receiver midway through his junior season, and he has been told by Aztec coaches that they will throw a lot to their backs.
The new coaches first contacted Crawford during a Christmas basketball tournament, shortly after the staff was hired.
"I got a few phone calls from San Diego State last year and this year prior to the coaching turnover," said John DeVore, Montgomery coach. "As soon as the change was made, we had no less than four coaches on this campus from there within a month. Before, all we got was phone calls."
Mesa Coach Len Smorin said he had a discussion last week with Steve Fairchild, a former Mesa quarterback and current Aztec recruiting coordinator. Fairchild told Smorin he was not happy with the overall response from local players. According to Smorin, some local players had already decided on their allotted five recruiting trips before the coaching turnover at SDSU.
"They are trying to recruit locally but are finding it difficult," Smorin said. "They can't outrecruit USC and UCLA. The previous staff had the same problem. Steve (Fairchild) said he was a little discouraged that he could recruit better in Sacramento and those areas than here."
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that SDSU successfully recruited Wurth, who was not contacted until January. Wurth, who set the county record with a 54-yard field in 1984, kicked nine field goals last season.
"Coach Scovil's staff was out here a lot the last two years when I was coach," said Larry Shepard, Monte Vista coach. "Maybe we were unique at this school then."