I chatted with San Diego State football recruits Ryan Lindley and Tommie Draheim the other day and learned some interesting observations they’ve made.

Lindley played quarterback and Draheim center at El Capitan High, and both are preparing for the 17th annual Alex Spanos All-Star Football Classic on July 13 at Mesa College. The all-star game practices are a break from their summer workouts on campus with their new Aztecs teammates.

“There have been about 70 or 80 guys working out, and the older guys say in the past it was only about 30 or 40,” Lindley said. “Other guys were at home and you didn’t know if they were working out.”

College coaches and returning players are always saying they had great offseason workouts, but this summer may be different if you accept the opinion of Freddy Keiaho, the SDSU alumnus who was a rookie linebacker last year with the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

“I was tossing some long balls with Darren Mougey, and Freddy Keiaho said this is the most guys he’s ever seen,” Lindley said. “I think this year’s seniors have been great role models for younger guys.”

Draheim added offensive linemen Brandyn Dombrowski and Mike Kravetz, both seniors, are doing for him what they said past veteran players didn’t do for them.

“They were saying the last senior class didn’t help them,” Draheim said. “But this year’s senior class isn’t like that. They’re teaching the younger guys. Dombrowski shows me a lot of things. They’ve been very welcoming; they’re trying to get everyone on the team the best they can be to win some ballgames.”

Lindley said he’s received similar help from senior quarterback Kevin O’Connell and senior wide receiver Chaz Schilens.

“Kevin has really taken me under his wing,” Lindley said. “I was out there watching spring drills, and what surprised me is he was in the middle of a position battle, but after taking his reps he always came over and talked to me and explained things. That blew my mind, considering he was in a battle for the starting job. Kevin and Chaz are definitely the leaders.”

It remains to be seen if the offseason teamwork leads to more wins in the fall, but it is another sign of second-year coach Chuck Long is establishing the program as his rather than one he inherited.

“The guys say there is more intensity,” Draheim said. “It seems like everyone is buying into Coach Long’s program.”

— TOM SHANAHAN

Thursday, July 5, 2007

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