By Matt McClanahan, Staff Columnist
Following San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke’s press conference today, I spoke with prolific junior linebacker Miles Burris who said he hasn’t consulted with NFL agents, and that he’ll return for his senior season. Burris led the Mountain West Conference this year with 9.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
Earlier this week I talked to a senior defensive player for SDSU who had some interesting things to say about a dramatic 8-4 season that played out like a Shakespearian saga with a tragedy against Missouri, the Replaygate scandal against BYU, the last-minute excitement against TCU and Utah, and finally Hoke’s antics to close out the regular season.
I’ve paraphrased what the senior said in bullet points:
The defining moment for this football program came when Nik Embernate almost cried after giving up a sack early in the season. From then on, these players considered each other family (the Aztec offensive line gave up nine sacks all year, which is seventh-best nationally).
In last week’s column I said this is Ryan Lindley’s team. My source didn’t entirely agree, and stated it’s the seniors’ team. The seniors held meetings together throughout the season and were true leaders.
Ernie Lawson is the vocal leader on defense.
Marcus Yarbrough’s injury hurt the defense more than most people realize.
According to the source, senior Brandon Sullivan should have gotten more love from the media for the role he has played on this team, transitioning from running back to fullback.
With receivers DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown leaving, someone will need to step up next year to fill that outside receiver role. It looks like Dominique Sandifer might remain a slot receiver. Freshman Jay Waddell, who was injured before the season, is apparently a playmaker. So is freshman Ezell Ruffin, who was redshirted.
My source says Burris is “very temperamental,” and if a coach gets on him in practice, Burris is likely to put an offensive player on his butt the next play.
According to the senior, strength coach Aaron Wellman was at least 50 percent of the reason SDSU found success this season.
Don’t be surprised if Rocky Long becomes a head coach again.