As we begin Fall camp on the Mesa, all last week we heard SDSU head coach speak about ‘development’ within the Aztecs football program. With 26 players entering into NFL camps this fall (and possibly more), we did some digging for you on all these Sons of Montezuma. Here’s our list:
Darren Hall – Atlanta Falcons
The 2021 draft pick has been a valuable contributor in the Falcons defensive backfield. But as the NFL is, the competition never ends. Hall is expected to compete heavily for starting position where investment and expectations are soaring high.
Aaron Brewer – Arizona Cardinals
The veteran long snapper was brought back last month after the pectoral injury that prematurely ended his 2022 season now healed. Brewer’s longevity at the position has kept SDSU affectionately known as Long snapper U.
Cam Thomas – Arizona Cardinals
Cam Thomas shined in his rookie season last year for the Arizona Cardinals and will have big expectations coming into year two. Thomas played just 230 snaps last season but registered three sacks on 155 pass rush snaps. He had a pass rush grade of 70.5 on PFF, which ranks third out of current players after Isaiah Simmons (83.5) and Krys Barnes (73.5).
As he was at San Diego State, Thomas is a must watch on the defensive line. Expect more highlights coming your way this season.
Tyrell Shavers – Buffalo Bills
Signing with Buffalo as an unrestricted free agent, Tyrell Shavers comes into his rookie season with interesting NFL potential. We all know he has the size to make some things happen, but the Bills roster is pretty stacked at the wideout position with Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Khalil Shakir, among others. Shavers’ excellent special teams play as an Aztec may be the key to getting opportunities in the league.
Jesse Matthews – Houston Texans
As an unrestricted free-agent for the Houston Texans Jesse has already made his name known among the coaches. With a complete overhaul of the Texans offensive side of the ball, Matthews could really be the kind of new blood Houston needs if they want to set a new standard to go with young QB CJ Stroud.
Keshawn Banks – Green Bay Packers
Signed by Green Bay as an undrafted free agent, Banks will be entering his rookie season camp listed at the linebacker position.
Caden McDonald – Indianapolis Colts
Caden is entering his rookie season as an undrafted free agent where he has been spotted as working as a longsnapper.
Segun Olubi – Indianapolis Colts
Segun was an undrafted free agent last offseason by the 49ers, but was picked up by the Colts at the beginning of September following preseason roster cuts. During the season he was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster by December.
Braxton Burmeister – LA Rams
Burmeister made the switch from QB to Wideout at SDSU towards the tail end of last season. With his speed and athleticism it proved to be enough to earn an undrafted free-agent pickup in LA. Though he is extra raw, Burmeister will gain excellent experience entering his 1st camp with such a high profile organization.
Zach Thomas – LA Rams
Trying to fill the void of enough healthy bodies to satisfy the offensive line room, L.A. poached guard/tackle Zachary Thomas off the Chicago Bears Practice Squad. With is versatility at both the Guard and Tackle positions, this may be a better fit for Thomas moving forward in his 2nd season in the league.
Daniel Bellinger – NY Giants
If Daniel Bellinger’s successful rookie season didn’t impress Giants fans already—images of his 2nd year body began to trend around the NFL having fans gushing about his progress. Although the Giants added in veteran stand-out TE Darren Waller, Bellinger is embracing the addition to the position room and is excited to pick his brain and learn from one of the best.
Rashaad Penny – Philadelphia Eagles
One of the big moves this off-season for Aztec Nation was the free agent signing of Rashaad Penny to the fresh out of the Super Bowl Philadelphia Eagles. Penny who suffered a season ending injury in his final year with the Seahawks will add an element to the Eagles rushing attack along with RB D’Andre Swift.
Penny, a five-year veteran, signed a one-year, $1.35 million contract in March and has looked sharp early in camp, catching the ball out of the backfield and looking decisive in the running game.
Alama Uluave – Miami Dolphins
The captain of last seasons SDSU football offensive line will be competing in the Miami Dolphins camp as an unrestricted free agent. As expected, Uluave is bringing the good energy down in South Florida.
Alex Barrett – San Francisco 49ers
Alex Barrett has spent the bulk of his career with the 49ers organization since 2019 and is now the longest active SDSU player with the organization. Though in season playing time has been limited Barrett provides excellent depth for one of the league’s premier franchises.
Tayler Hawkins – San Francisco 49ers
Making his 2nd season with the 49ers organization, the thought is that San Francisco somewhat successfully ‘stashed’ the 6’1″ safety/corner for further development. Hawkins is certainly in a much better position to crack the 53-man roster this year than in 2022, and there is enough physical ability to suggest he could offer something to the active roster.
Keith Ismael – San Francisco 49ers
Ismael is coming into his 3rd NFL season and is 1 of 4 SDSU players developing with the 49ers organization. Representing Asian American and Pacific Islander players in the NFL has been something the 49ers have highlighted recently including Ismael in the conversation.
Kyahva Tezino – San Francisco 49ers
With star defensive end Nick Bosa placed on the reserve/did not report list, the San Francisco 49ers made an immediate move to fill a roster spot by adding former San Diego State Aztecs linebacker Kyahva Tezino to the team. After proving himself with the Pittsburgh Marauders for two years in the USFL, Tezino is finally getting another shot in an NFL camp.
His record in the USFL is impressive, having racked up 94 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles, and six pass deflections in the 2023 season alone.
We featured Tezino after his successful USFL season last year where he opened up about his faith in getting an opportunity and his potential plans at SDSU after his playing days are through. We will be pulling for Kyahva who joins a 49ers franchise packed with Aztecs 4 Life!
Calvin Munson – New England Patriots
Cal has settled in back again with the Patriots after bouncing around the New York, New England, Miami and back to New England territory. His main contributions have, and will continue to come on special teams where he can play several roles in the kicking game.
Justus Tavai – New England Patriots
Tavai initially signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in May out of San Diego State. But the club cut him at the start of this month. Now he’ll be back as the club fills out its 90-man roster to begin veteran minicamp.
Nick Bawden – New York Jets
Since converting into a fullback from a fullback at San Diego State, Bawden has successfully carried on the fight to keep the somewhat antiquated position alive in football. According to reports in the New York Jets camp, Bawden now in his 5th season is drawing some attention for his surprisingly hefty involvement in the offense. He’s receiving reps with the first-team offense and has caught some passes from Aaron Rodgers.
David Wells – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wells spent last season on the Buccaners practice squad and just signed a new contract with Tampa Bay. In doing so, he’ll have a chance to compete for a larger role throughout the offseason.
Luq Barcoo – Pittsburgh Steelers
Luq Barcoo joined the Steelers this summer after recording 31 tackles, an interception and a sack for the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL. Barcoo is projected as a sleeper entering camp but is highly regarded as one who can make some noise and onto the active roster.
Jordan Byrd – Pittsburgh Steelers
Jordan is entering his first NFL camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers. By the looks of things he’s already gravitating towards the local community. The premier special teams returner in the Mountain West, Byrd will be focused on aiming for the special teams in the league once again.
Damontae Kazee – Pittsburgh Steelers
Kazee is completing his first season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and recording 2 INT’s to add to his 14 career total. When the Pittsburgh Steelers got to work on Sunday at training camp, projected starting safety Damontae Kazee was in a walking boot according to ESPN NFL reporter Brookey Pryor. Hopefully this is a slight setback for. the veteran Kazee entering his 7th season in the league.
William Dunkle – Pittsburgh Steelers
Dunkle spend last season on the Steelers practice squad. However with Steelers Kevin Dotson no longer a starting guard, William Dunkle has been listed as a possible backup. The big & nasty Dunkle has been developing his skills and is listed as the 4th SDSU player in the Steelers camp.
Daniel Brunskill – Tennessee Titans
Brunskill signed as a free agent this off season with the Tennessee Titans, finishing up an incredibly successful run with the San Francisco 49ers. Known for his agility and smarts, Brunskill possesses the kind of versatility on the line that makes him a great X factor to have.
Sons of Montezuma were fortunate enough to feature Daniel back in 2022 where he spoke about the 49ers masterful command in the running game. Tennessee loves to ground & pound, so look for Brunskill to add some serious experience to the Titans this fall.
Last year’s anchor on the offensive line Alama Uluave is in Miami Dolphins camp which leaves