Regardless of how you feel about the Chargers organization, General Manager Tom Telesco has always been a good man. He’s entering his 10th year as GM and although half of them have been spent in that other place Tom has kept a close eye on what’s going on in the Bolts true home.
“San Diego State had a great year this year,” says Telesco. “They’ve got a couple of players that are probably going to be highly sought after for our league. They’ve done a great job down there.”
The Chargers didn’t make the playoffs so Telesco and the front office are turning their attention to NFL Draft preparations. One Aztec who’s a potential 1st rounder at a position of need is defensive end Cameron Thomas. Those of us who watch SDSU on a weekly basis see Thomas as one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the game.
So do NFL talent evaluators.
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“(He has) size, high motor, really quick, tons of production at San Diego State and in that conference every single week,” says Telesco. “That defense played hard. They played aggressive, which is not surprising based on who their coaches are and what their staff is like. Certainly, a player that stood out. A player I didn’t know much about going into the season. Our scouts, I think, did. They’re much further ahead of me as far as who’s out there during the fall than I am but I’m assuming he’ll be at the Combine and we’ll get a chance to meet him more.”
While the Carlsbad High alum is likely the Aztecs’ only 1st round possibility another player is generating even more buzz. It’s the same guy who’s become a social media darling/cult hero.
By any metric, Matt Araiza had the single greatest punting season in the history of college football. He’s challenging the NFL’s old guard that doesn’t see very much value in punters. The Chargers have had special teams woes for more than a decade. During that time Telesco has learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work.
He now sees punters, and Araiza, differently than most.
“They have a lot of value because they flip the field and if they can do it consistently there’s a ton of value. I mean, a punter is part of your defense” says Telesco. “He is a unique punter with the distance he puts on the ball. Not necessarily a lot of hangtime but the ball goes a long way. He’s a pretty good athlete, too.”
Araiza, a safety at Rancho Bernardo High School, led the nation in every punting category imaginable, and led the Aztecs in special teams tackles.
“He’s a really unique punter and we’re looking forward to doing more work on him. I got to see him this year. He’s different than other punters I’ve seen come out of college in a long time. Just a totally different style. And he kicks off and does field goals, as well, so he’s a really interesting player.”
Who should, along with the rest of the Aztecs entering the Draft, have an interesting and long professional career.