San Diego State’s biggest football recruit, literally and figuratively, to sign a national letter-of-intent on Wednesday was Mount Miguel High’s Juan Bolanos, an offensive lineman.

He’s big literally as a 6-foot-7, 310-pounder. He’s big figuratively as a recruit who turned down scholarship offers from Pac-10 schools Arizona State and Washington State. First, ASU coach Dirk Koetter offered one to Bolanos. When Koetter was fired and replaced by Dennis Erickson, the veteran coach of recruiting battles also made the offer to Bolanos.

“He’s a massive human, but he’s athletic and nimble for his size,” said Mount Miguel coach Tommy Karlo. “He’s thin at 300, so he can grow into a 340-pounder. You hate to project too far forward ahead, but he’s got NFL potential.”

Karlo, a former Grossmont College and Alabama-Birmingham quarterback, also spent three years as a graduate assistant at San Diego State from 1999-2001. That time span included All-American center Mike Malano, who played briefly with the Minnesota Vikings. It also includes Mike Houghton and Jonathan Ingram, who played in the NFL.

“Of all the offensive linemen that were at San Diego State when I was there, Juan has more potential,” Karlo said.

One reason kids with potential don’t develop is work ethic, but Karlo says Bolanos is one of the hardest working linemen he’s been around. He’s seen Bolanos develop into a scholarship athlete as a senior from a kid who was still growing into his body and wasn’t the best lineman on the team.

“A guy like Juan shows you what an inexact science recruiting is,” Karlo said. “No one had him ranked as a junior, so he wasn’t considered one of the big recruits as a senior. But I challenge you to find a better offensive lineman recruit on the West Coast. In my opinion, he’s the story of the recruiting class. If I’m (SDSU head coach) Chuck Long, I’m really playing up getting him to come to San Diego State.”


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