After the first couple of spring practice earlier this year, Nick Bawden was third in San Diego State’s quarterback pecking order. Exiting spring, he was at least fourth.
Now, as the Aztecs are about to embark on the start of summer camp, Bawden is off the quarterback depth chart completely.
Head coach Rocky Long confirmed to the San Diego Union-Tribune that, following the conclusion of spring practice, he gave Bawden a choice: switch positions or transfer somewhere else if he wanted to continue playing quarterback. The 6-3, 220-pound Bawden decided to take one for his current team and agreed to move to fullback/H-back moving forward.
While Long’s not really certain about the fullback part of the equation, he praised Bawden for his selflessness in making the move.
“There are very few of those guys left,” Long told the Union-Tribune. “You appreciate those guys. I don’t know if he can play fullback. He’s a good athlete; he weighs 230 (officially, 220) pounds. Just the attitude … ‘I want to be on this team. Tell me where I can play and I’ll do the best I can.’ That’s great stuff.”
Bawden began the spring behind Kentucky graduate transfer Maxwell Smith and Oregon transfer Jake Rodrigues. He left behind those two as well freshman Christian Chapman.
As a true freshman last season, Bawden started two games in place of the injured Quinn Kaehler. In those two games — one win, one loss — he completed 13 of 37 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran the ball 11 times for 43 yards.
As we roll on toward the start of summer camps and, ultimately, a new season, the Mountain West becomes the latest to unveil its preseason selections.
The media that covers the MWC has tapped defending champion Boise State as its favorite to win the Mountain division, while San Diego State is the favorite in the West. The Broncos received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes, while the Aztecs garnered 27. The other three West votes went to Fresno State, which claimed that division in 2014 but fell to Boise in the conference championship game.
Individually, Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins was named as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year; Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell the Defensive POTY; and San Diego State kicker Donny Hageman the Special Teams POTY.
Below is the media’s predicted order of finish in bot divisions, followed by the first-team all-conference squad.
Mountain Division (First-Place Votes), Total Points
1. Boise State (28) 177
2. Utah State (2) 150
3. Colorado State 108
4. Air Force 90
5. Wyoming 64
6. New Mexico 41
1. San Diego State (27) 177
2. Fresno State (3) 141
3. Nevada 113
4. San José State 91
5. Hawai‘i 70
6. UNLV 38
DL Eddie Yarbrough* Sr. Wyoming
DL Alex Hansen** Sr. Air Force
DL Kamalei Correa* Jr. Boise State
DL Ian Seau** Sr. Nevada
LB Tanner Vallejo** Jr. Boise State
LB Kyler Fackrell Sr. Utah State
LB Nick Vigil* Jr. Utah State
DB Weston Steelhammer* Jr. Air Force
DB Donte Deayon** Sr. Boise State
DB Darian Thompson* Sr. Boise State
DB Damontae Kazee** Jr. San Diego State
QB Chuckie Keeton Sr. Utah State
WR Rashard Higgins* Jr. Colorado State
WR Devonte Boyd** So. UNLV
RB Donnel Pumphrey* Jr. San Diego State
RB Marteze Waller** Sr. Fresno State
OL Marcus Henry* Sr. Boise State OL Rees Odhiambo** Sr. Boise State
OL Alex Fifita Sr. Fresno State
OL Ben Clarke Sr. Hawaiʻi
OL Pearce Slater Sr. San Diego State
TE Steven Walker* Sr. Colorado State
P Alex Boy** Sr. Nevada
PK Donny Hageman Sr. San Diego State
Ret. Carlos Wiggins Sr. New Mexico
* – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West first team.
** – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West second team.
It hasn’t taken Maxwell Smith very long to make a name for himself at his new workplace.
In January of this year, it was confirmed that the quarterback would be transferring from Kentucky to San Diego State to finish out his playing career. The grad transfer left the Wildcats in search of a place where he could contend for a starting job, and it appears he he may have just picked the right spot.
While the Aztecs have used just three of their allotted 15 spring practice sessions, the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that Smith has seemingly distanced himself from the other five competitors for the the starting spot. From the Union-Tribune:
With six guys competing, it’s like they come and go through a revolving door in drills, but there’s little question for me who’s looked the sharpest: Kentucky graduate transfer Maxwell Smith.
At 6-feet-4, Smith is the most imposing of the bunch and he’s shown the best arm strength and accuracy. Most impressive has been his targeting on outside curl routes by receivers, with Smith zipping the ball into spots where only his wideouts can catch it. He looks very poised and capable. I don’t yet have a strong read on his mobility, and that might be a concern given the issues with the offensive line (more on that later).
Also competing for the job is Oregon transfer Jake Rodrigues, although the paper stated that he hasn’t had the best start to the spring. That should be at least mildly concerning as Rodrigues has been in the offense for nearly a year, having left the Ducks for the Aztecs in May of last year.
The paper writes that “[o]ur standings after Week 1: Smith, [sophomore Christian] Chapman, [sophomore Nick] Bawden, Rodrigues, [JUCO transfer Adam] Wood and second-year walk-on Drew Anderson.”
With news that Marcus Mariota is entering the 2015 NFL Draft, it is already time to shift ahead to see who will be leading the Oregon offense on the field in 2015. The job of filling the shoes of Mariota will be no easy task, but somebody has to do it. Barring the transfer of a player like Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, there are a couple options to watch during Oregon’s spring practices.
Jeff Lockie appears to be the frontrunner as things stand just by looking at the depth chart for the Ducks. Lockie made a brief appearance on the field in place of Mariota during the College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State, after Mariota was taken to the ground by Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa. Lockie, a former three-star recruit according to Rivals, is currently a redshirt sophomore, and is currently the most veteran of Oregon’s young quarterback stable. Lockie joined the Oregon program in the same recruiting class that landed four-star quarterback Jake Rodrigues to Oregon under former head coach Chip Kelly. Rodriguez eventually landed at San Diego State as things did not work out with the Oregon program. Rodrigue transferred to San Diego State prior to the 2014 season and will be eligible to play this fall.
Oregon’s other quarterbacks on the roster today are all freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Eugene native Taylor Alie and California product Ty Griffin are each redshirt freshmen, but neither are expected to make a serious run for the starting job this spring. Alie held a job as Oregon’s scout team quarterback in 2013. Both entered the same recruiting class as Damion Hobbs, a three-star recruit from Texas that has already transferred to Utah State.
True freshman Morgan Mahalak may have the most potential to replace Mariota in the fall. The former four-star recruit from California did play for Oregon this season but is used to waiting for his opportunity. He did so in high school before excelling to be one of the top passers in California. He was the only quarterback added to the Oregon roster in last year’s recruiting class, and now could be his time. The pro-style quarterback was the 11th-ranked pro-style QB in last year’s class according to Rivals could easily benefit from a strong showing in the spring as head coach Mark Helfrich attempts to settle on his next starting quarterback.Oregon also has four-star quarterback
As the spring opens up, the starting job could come down to Lockie and Mahalak. Oregon also has four-star quarterback Travis Waller lined up for the Class of 2015 (already has signed a letter of intent). As things stand now, there are no other quarterbacks in Oregon’s Class of 2015.
As a freshman, quarterback Maxwell Smith appeared to be the future of Kentucky Wildcats football. After a change in coaching staffs and a continuous quarterback carousel, Smith won’t finish his career at Kentucky.
Instead, Smith will return to his home state and become a member of the San Diego State Aztecs, according to Jennifer Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Maxwell Smith’s father confirmed Friday that his son will transfer.
“He loves, loves, loves, loves Kentucky with all of his heart; he is sad,” Carl Smith texted to Jennifer Smith. “He’s happy but sad.”
The quarterback’s career looked like it was going to take off during the 2012 campaign. After being named to the Freshmen All-SEC Team, Maxwell Smith started four games as a sophomore. During those four games, he completed 68.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns. His season came to a premature end, though, due to an ankle surgery.
Maxwell Smith was never able to recover the momentum he built as a young player in Lexington. He battled a shoulder injury this past year and never threw a pass for the Wildcats during the 2014 campaign.
As a graduate transfer, Maxwell Smith is eligible to play next season. He’ll provide an immediate starting option after Quinn Kaehler exhausted his eligibility.
No one knows exactly who will be directing San Diego State’s quarterbacks, though, after their position coach, Brian Sipe, was dismissed after the season, per the San Diego Union-Tribune.