San Jose State Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates

San Jose State Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates

The Spartans will need a number of new contributors to rebound next fall, but these guys may not fly under the radar for too long.

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Who could this year’s #SpartanUpAndComers?

San Jose State football has plenty of work to do in order to climb back to the top of the Mountain West, but their transfer portal acquisitions and coaching stability provide plenty of reasons for why the veteran core can do just that.

Despite the big-ticket arrivals, though, part-timers stepping into more prominent roles could be the difference between mere bowl eligibility and becoming a true conference title contender once again. With that in mind, big things could be ahead for this bunch of Spartans.

Taren Schive, K

Replacing the reliable Matthew Mercurio won’t be an easy task, but Schive’s overall performance in handling kickoff duties last season suggests he has the leg for the task. 51.68% of his kicks went for a touchback in 2021, which made him just the sixth Mountain West freshman since 2009 to see half of his attempts reach the end zone. With no other kickers on the current roster, Schive will get every opportunity to perform under pressure and do his part to help the Spartans offense rebound.

Soane Toia, DL

Everyone knows about Cade Hall and Viliami Fehoko, but Toia made the most out of his time in the defensive line rotation last season, starting three games while picking up 25 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. According to Pro Football Focus, Toia graded out as the team’s top interior defender (68.0), so even with veterans like Noah Wright, Lando Gray, and Jay Kakiva back for another go, the junior from Tonga could have another big step forward in him .

Sam Olson and Dominick Mazotti, TE

One thing you can count on from the San Jose State offense is that tight ends will play a major role. During Brent Brennan’s tenure, both Josh Oliver and Derrick Deese Jr. have earned chances to make an impact in the NFL after starring with the Spartans and both Olson and Mazotti, juniors who are each listed at 6-foot-4, could pose similar problems for defensive coordinators.

Olson hasn’t seen the field quite as much as Mazotti over the last two seasons but, despite a small sample size, the big play ability is evident in his averaging 18.8 yards per reception in that time. Mazotti, meanwhile, saw time in nine games last year, including two starts, and has averaged 16.1 YPC since 2020. Both could be in line for a substantial uptick in production if the matchups are right.

Charles Ross, WR

Quick, which player led Mountain West freshmen in receptions and receiving yards last year? Ross had a solid year despite up-and-down quarterback play and finished fourth on the team with 25 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns, so even with new faces like Justin Lockhart and Elijah Cooks in the mix, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Culver City native remained a major player in the retooled San Jose State attack and saw his numbers take another big step forward.

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