San Diego State Aztecs

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Maxwell Smith #17 of the San Diego State Aztecs passes against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Maxwell Smith has appeal for sixth season denied

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After much uncertainty, the sun has officially set on Maxwell Smith’s playing days, at least at the collegiate level.

Tuesday, San Diego State head coach confirmed that the NCAA has denied Smith’s appeal for a medical waiver that would’ve given the quarterback a sixth season of eligibility.  Smith had been wavering as to whether wanted to play in 2016 irrespective of the NCAA’s decision, which is why head coach Rocky Long had previously indicated that the player would have a job in some capacity with the Aztecs football program if he wanted it.

It’s uncertain whether Smith, who has previously indicated he wants to pursue a career in coaching, will accept a position at SDSU.  What is certain is that he has suited up for the last time collegiately.  Professionally, however…

“I don’t want to regret not taking a shot at the NFL,” Smith said according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s something I might look back on and regret. I talked to a lot of people … The (pro) level can suit some people better than the college level. Everybody sees with quarterbacks that it’s hard to predict what happens. You work hard enough and persevere long enough, maybe something good will come.”

Smith’s appeal for a sixth season was based on on the fact that he missed the equivalent of two seasons at Kentucky with ankle and shoulder injuries. Smith won the starting job after transferring from UK in January of last year, but sustained a torn ACL at the end of the year that would’ve made his availability for the 2016 uncertain to begin with.

After coming to the Aztecs as a grad transfer, Smith started the first 11 games of last season before the injury.  He completed 55 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 200 attempts.

SDSU wants Maxwell Smith to be ‘player/coach’ if QB gets sixth year

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Maxwell Smith #17 of the San Diego State Aztecs passes against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Regardless of what the NCAA ultimately decides, there’s a role for Maxwell Smith at San Diego State.

Because of various injuries, Smith is seeking a waiver from the NCAA that would give the fifth-year senior a sixth season of eligibility.  The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote early last month that ‘[t]he case for another year of eligibility will be based on Smith missing the equivalent of two seasons at Kentucky with ankle and shoulder injuries.” Smith won the starting job after transferring from UK in January of last year, but sustained a torn ACL at the end of the year that would/will keep him out of spring practice if he gets that sixth year.

If the waiver is approved and Smith does return, though, it wouldn’t be as the starter as sophomore Christian Chapman, who took over for the injured Smith, will maintain that role. From the Union-Tribune:

Smith, who is completing a graduate program at SDSU, has been invited to serve in a “player/coach” role.

Long said it would give the Aztecs a “mature guy who can step in if we lose our starter.”

Smith does not want to comment on the situation until he decides what he wants to do. He has been spotted a few times watching spring practices.

Smith has expressed a desire to be a coach when his playing career is over, and Aztecs head coach Rocky Long would like to help the player get his start at his current program.

“Since graduate students only take a couple classes, we’d let (Smith) sit in staff meetings and offensive meetings and he would sit in all the quarterback meetings,” Long said. “He says he wants to be a coach, so that would help him to his goal of being a coach someday. He hasn’t decided he wants to do any of that yet.”

After coming to the Aztecs as a grad transfer, Smith started the first 11 games of last season before the injury.  He completed 55 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 200 attempts.

Smith’s replacement, Chapman, started the last two games, including the Hawaii Bowl win over Cincinnati.  In the two-plus games after Smith was injured, Chapman connected on nearly 68 percent of his 34 passes with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.

SDSU’s three interceptions as a team — Chapman had one early on in the season — were the second-fewest in the country behind Navy’s two.

Injuries to prevent SDSU’s top punt returner from playing in 2016

Lloyd Mills
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San Diego State is in the early stages of spring practice, and yet the Aztecs have already lost a key piece of their special teams — and perhaps a key piece of their passing game for good measure.

Following a practice session earlier this week, head coach Rocky Long confirmed that the football program is seeking a medical redshirt for wide receiver Lloyd Mills. As such, the senior-to-be will be sidelined for the 2016 season.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Mills has been dealing with various knee and shoulder injuries sustained during his football playing career.

“I’m uncomfortable and the trainers are uncomfortable with him being out there,” Long said. “He hurt himself playing football and some other ways, too.”

The Union-Tribune writes that Long “did say that Mills already has graduated … [and a] medical redshirt would enable him to remain on scholarship while pursuing a master’s degree.”

Each of the past two seasons, Mills has led the Aztecs in punt returns — 9.5 yards a return last season, 11.4 in 2014. In that latter season, he was named second-team All-Mountain West as a punt returner by both the coaches and media.

On the receiving end, he’ll apparently finish his career with 23 receptions for 316 yards and a touchdown. He also returned one punt for a touchdown in 2014, and threw a seven-yard touchdown pass in 2015. In fact, Lewis completed both of his career pass attempts and has a pass efficiency rating of 357.4.

Vandy swiping San Diego State assistant Osia Lewis

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Head coach Rocky Long of the San Diego State Aztecs stands near the bench area in the second half of  the Mountain West Championship game against the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
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For the first time this offseason, Rocky Long will be forced to fill a hole on his San Diego State coaching staff.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Vanderbilt had hired Osia Lewis away from SDSU. Thursday, school officials confirmed to the San Diego Union-Tribune that Lewis will indeed be leaving the Aztecs for a job with the Commodores.

Lewis had spent the past five seasons coaching the defensive line with the Aztecs; it’s expected he’ll have similar duties with the Commodores. What’s not expected is for Lewis to have the specific title of line coach as Derek Mason had previously announced the hiring of Oklahoma’s C.J. Ah You for that job.

Not only had Lewis spent the past five seasons with Long at SDSU, but he was also on Long’s staff at New Mexico for five years (2003-07) as well. During Lewis’ time at SDSU, at least one defensive lineman per season earned All-Mountain West honors, the Union-Tribune noted.

SEC, Ohio State tops on Carolina, Denver Super Bowl rosters

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29:  Former Tennesse quarterback Peyton Manning and current quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts is honored alongside his former college coach Phillip Fulmer before the start of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 29, 2005 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Cam Newton may be hurtling toward history, but the former Auburn quarterback will not be the lone player representing the SEC in next month’s Super Bowl.  In fact, he’s far, far from it.

As you may have heard, Newton’s Carolina Panthers are set to square off with Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos in the 50th Super Bowl Feb. 3.  Manning and Newton are two of and FBS-best 30 former SEC players who are on the two teams’ rosters, which includes those on the 53-man, reserved/injured list, practice squad, reserved/suspended by commissioner and reserve/future squad.

The Pac-12 is next with 23, followed by the Big Ten (21) and ACC (17).  The final Power Five conference, the Big 12, has 10, three less than the Mountain West’s 13.  The AAC, with eight, is the only Group of Five league to come close to double digits.  The MAC, meanwhile, is the only conference to be shutout, while all of the other divisions in the NCAA combined for 18 players.

Nearly every SEC team is represented in this year’s big game, the lone exception being Vanderbilt.  Of the dozen schools in the Pac-12, only Arizona and Washington State are missing.  Both the ACC and Big Ten have 11 of their 14 teams in the game, the lone exceptions being Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech for the former and Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers for the latter.

One of those B1G schools that’s in, Nebraska, has had at least one player on a Super Bowl roster for 23 straight years, the longest active streak for any FBS program.

Ohio State easily outdistances individual schools with seven, three more than the four each for Auburn, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Tennessee.  Alabama, Arizona State, Colorado State, Georgia, Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC and Utah.

A total of 20 schools have two players each, including Coastal Carolina, the only non-FBS program in the group.  The other 19 includes Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, San Diego State, South Carolina, Stanford, Troy, Tulane, Washington and Wisconsin.