Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 Aztecs Gaining National Recognition

More than any time I can remember, Aztec football is in the national spotlight as we near the start of the 2016 season. The well-earned attention is evident on a variety of fronts. Here are just a few of many examples.

It began with the powerful ending to the 2015 season, when the Aztecs closed out with a 10-game win streak in going to an 11-3 season. The 42-7 crushing win over the respected Cincinnati Bearcats in the Hawaii Bowl caught a lot of positive attention. The Bearcats had rolled up big scores all year, including a 53-46 win over a very good Memphis team. The Aztec defense was an eye-opener.

DJ Pumphrey, Rocky Long (photos by Ernie Anderson)
For 2016, the Aztecs are mentioned in almost every pre-season ranking forecast, with the latest being #17 in TODAY’S U SPORTS Top 25, ahead of teams like USC and Oregon. Lindy’s Sports has the Aztecs at #19, and CBS Sports, #24. A solid team, led by a talented group of standout players. 

Damontae Kazee, Calvin Munson (Ernie Anderson)
While DJ Pumphrey has the most eye-popping stats and needs only 318 yards to break Marshall Faulk’s rushing record, the team is loaded with talent. Among those on many of the more prestigious national “Watch Lists” are CB Damontae Kazee, LB Calvin Munson, OG Nico Siragusa, C Arthur Flores, TE Daniel Brunskill, RB/KR Rashaad Penny, all in addition to Pumphrey, of course! That’s all from one team – our Aztecs! Maybe not on those watch lists, but still getting lots of kudos, is DE Alex Barrett.

Arthur Flores and Nico Siragusa (Ken Ables); Rashaad Penny (Ernie Anderson)
Another perspective of that same overall team strength is the number of Aztec positions singled out for pre-season All-MW Conference honors. Last year we swept every major player honor, plus Rocky named Coach of the Year. The preseason awards just announced look like a replay. Pumphrey, Offensive Player of the Year; Kazee, Defensive Player of the Year; and Rashaad Penny, Special Teams Player of the Year. 

Alex Barrett, Daniel Brunskill (Ernie Anderson)
As a team, the Aztecs won every vote to win the West Division title, and six Aztecs were named for 1st Team honors. Obviously, the Aztec are ready for the 2016 season. Are you? I know I am!


The third edition of GO AZTECS! is updated to include highlights of my first 770 Aztec football games from the past 70 seasons. Available now at Amazon; soon in the SDSU Bookstore and shopaztecs.com. 

A must-have for any Aztec fan!