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Things Looking Rocky So Far for SDSU Football

August 14, 1986|STEVE DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Carl Weathers, a San Diego State linebacker of the late 1960s, later boxed Sylvester Stallone in the movie "Rocky."

That could be a good title for the current SDSU linebacking situation. The same also could apply to the wide receivers and offensive linemen.

SDSU has produced such National Football League players as linebacker Mike Douglass, wide receiver Haven Moses and offensive lineman Claudie Minor.

Too bad those guys can't turn back the clock and play again for SDSU. The 1986 Aztecs certainly could use them.

Linebackers were not supposed to be in short supply.

The Aztecs recruited Joe Smylie from San Diego Mesa College. He left before spring ball to pursue the ministry.

They recruited Shawn Leckington from Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. He got married; he and his wife had a child and he decided to quit football.

They recruited David Woodhouse from Bonita Vista High School. He signed a pro baseball contract with Milwaukee.

Then there was Danny Allen, a 1985 redshirt. He left for personal reasons.

Smylie and Leckington could have been two of the three starters at linebacker. Allen figured to make the depth chart and Woodhouse had an outside shot. They were desperately needed because all of last year's starting linebackers were seniors.

So, the Aztecs have lost four people at a position that requires three people.

"We have a little depth problem there," Coach Denny Stolz said. "Between our large graduation losses and kids we were counting on who are not here, it could make us vulnerable."

Stolz said returnees Richard Brown and Randy Kirk are "two as fine of linebackers as you could expect." Andy Damon, a seldom used player last season, is also expected to start.

But where, has the depth gone at linebacker?

Wide receiver is another problem position.

"Across the country when you shut your eyes and think of San Diego State, you think of two things--throwing and catching," Stolz said. "That's the image from Don Coryell to Doug Scovil. I would've assumed we would inherit (wide receivers). We don't have quality numbers there. It would be like not having a tailback at Ohio State or USC or a quarterback at BYU. You just have them."

For starters at wide receiver, the Aztecs have a converted defensive back and a little used returnee.

Alfred Jackson has switched from cornerback. Kenny Moore, slowed by a leg injury in spring practice, is the other receiver.

They are replacing Webster Slaughter and Vince Warren. Slaughter was a second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns this year. Warren was picked in the fifth round by the New York Giants.

"I'm sure Webster and Vince were untested two years ago," said Dana Bible, SDSU wide receiver coach. "They assumed the role and did a great job. Our players will have to do the same thing."

The top reserve receivers have a combined 15 receptions at SDSU. Brett Blanchard has caught 14 passes in three years. Anthony Conyers caught one pass last season. Colin Sumner was a freshman redshirt.

What about recruiting receivers?

"We can't recruit the last two or three years," the first-year head coach said. "We brought in five receivers with this class. What we don't have are upper-class wide receivers."

Stolz has nothing but praise for three offensive linemen--all-Western Athletic Conference guard Doug Aronson, center Kevin Wells and tight end Robert Awalt.

At the other three line positions, Stolz has nothing but questions.

"Our center, tight end and left guard are three of the best in the conference," Stolz said. "The only problem is that the others are not up to that caliber. If we're lucky, we might field a real good offensive line. If we're unlucky, then we'll have to try to win in some other ways than with our offensive line."

That would be difficult. Quarterback Todd Santos, who has passed for 4,940 yards and 30 touchdowns in two seasons, needs protection to protect his statistics.

Last season, three of the five interior linemen were walk-ons. Amazingly, SDSU had just seven offensive linemen on scholarship in 1985. It had six tight ends on scholarship.

The projected offensive tackles this season are not in the greatest condition. Greg Williamson, a converted defensive tackle, missed spring practice because of surgery for torn knee ligaments. Mike Ariey has been bothered by chronic shoulder problems.

Mark Tegio, the leading candidate at right guard, has been slowed by knee problems.

"The evaluation period during spring was not good for the line coaches," said Ulima Afoa, an offensive line coach. "This will be the first time we'll get to evaluate the kids who will be playing. We have to go on what type of ability we know they have. If we get the right people to block, we might score some points."

If not, it figures to be a rocky season.

Aztec Notes Harold Hicks, a safety from Pasadena City College, has transferred to SDSU. Hicks originally planned to play at Georgia but changed his mind. . . . The Aztecs have had two-a-day practices since Monday for 25 first-year players who did not participate in spring practice. Remaining team members will report this morning for physicals. Media day, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Friday in Aztec Bowl. The entire team begins two-a-day practices Saturday morning. . . . Plans are being made for former SDSU athletes to tailgate and sit together at this year's home games. For information, phone Vickie Larsen at the SDSU ticket office.

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