Exciting news for people who love boring things: The 2012 NFL Draft starts in just a few hours! (Note to self: Remember to go back later and insert a witty and original joke about Mel Kiper Jr.’s hair.)
As you’ve surely read or at least assumed, no Aztecs will be selected tonight in the first round. By all accounts, Ronnie Hillman, Ryan Lindley and Miles Burris look like obvious Round 3-7 fodder.
So on the surface, this doesn’t seem like an incredibly significant draft from the perspective of the SDSU football program. On the contrary. Particularly in the case of Hillman and Lindley, our guys ending up with the best possible fit for future NFL success matters quite a lot to the future of the Aztecs.
To explain why, allow me to whip open my trusty 2011 Aztecs Media Guide. Page 22 — the NFL notables page — is arguably the most important page in the whole publication from the perspective of a recruit. Let’s take a gander, shall we?
The photos at the top show current NFL players. That’s good. Who are these notable superstars getting the headliner treatment?
Oh. I see. Look, I don’t want to dump on any of these guys. They were good Aztecs and are solid pros, which is certainly a great accomplishment for them. They’re living the dream and certainly making more money than me.
But in terms of household names that resonate with recruits? Yeah, no. Do you think 5-star Rivals recruit Trevor Gridstar sees this page and says, “Oh man, Kassim Osgood! I used to always pretend to be him when I played in my backyard. You know, because we practiced a lot of kick coverages in my backyard. What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
OK, maybe it gets better in the text.
San Diego State has a storied history of sending players to the National Football League.
Storied! It’s true, when I was a wee lad my great grandpappy sat me down on his knee and told me the tale of how the Cleveland Browns selected Pio Sagapolutele in the fourth round in 1991. I was all, “Put me down! I want to watch cartoons and you smell like whiskey!” Next.
Over the years, the Aztecs have had 134 players selected in the NFL Draft, which ranks first in the Mountain West Conference.
Golly, even more than UNLV! I think the only silver lining in BYU and Utah ditching the MWC was the newfound ability to make this claim. Let’s skip ahead a little.
Over the last 10 years, San Diego State has had 20 players picked in the NFL Draft, four of which were selected in 2004.
Look, there’s such a thing as too much information. Twenty players in 10 years is two players per year. Even a high school football player can do that kind of math. And they can also figure out that that’s not especially impressive.
And then we get back to the question of household names. Among those 20, I count … let’s see here … zero. Yes, zero of them. I mean shit, who is the last big-name guy this program produced? La’Roi Glover during Clinton’s first term?
OK, this is getting depressing. But wait, they’ve included a photo as their centerpiece! Who do we have here?
Ah yes, now we break out the big guns! The household name of household names! And right on the heels of a Hall of Fame induction, too.
Clearly, any time SDSU mentions sending players to the NFL, this is the card you have to pull. And it’s a pretty great card for the time being. But one has to wonder how long the Aztecs can continue to ride the Marshall Faulk gravy train when selling itself to recruits.
Some information that is sure to make you feel very old:
When Faulk was in his last year at San Diego State, the current crop of high school seniors was not yet born. When Faulk won the NFL MVP in 2000, they were too busy watching Teletubbies to notice. I mean, I was watching Teletubbies, too, but it’s because I was hungover. These kids watched because they were five.
The point is that a time is coming soon where the Faulk card will cease to be relevant to the younger generation. Meaning we’ll be left with a whole stack of Vincent Brown and Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman cards to play. Meaning when that happens, the Aztecs need to hope like hell that those cards are worth a damn.
So seeing Hillman and Lindley drafted by teams that seem to value their skills? That would sure be a nice start.