Dey Juan Hemmings is only a true freshman, he isn’t imposing as a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder and you may not hear his name called much on broadcasts.

But he might be the most consistent and under-rated player on San Diego State’s resurgent football team.

Hemmings played his usual a special role in the Aztecs (4-5, 3-2 Mountain West Conference) winning a second straight game, 38-30 Saturday at UNLV, to keep alive their hopes for bowl eligibility with three tough contests remaining.

Watch special teams, especially punt and kickoff coverage, and Hemmings is the first guy down field for the tackle or around the ball to force a fair catch. It’s like watching Kassim Osgood, the SDSU alumnus that is the Chargers’ Pro Bowl special teams player, work on Sundays.

“He’s played really, really well for a true freshman,” SDSU coach Chuck Long said. “He takes pride it. We’ve had good special teams work this year.”

Although Hemmings was recruited as a defensive back out of Rialto High and hasn’t played a down from scrimmage, he’ll be one of the Aztecs’ most experienced second-year players next fall. He plays on all special teams units, and Long estimates he’ll be on the field for 200 snaps this year.

He’s one of five true freshmen seeing playing time along with wide receiver Vincent Jackson, tight end Austin Umuolo, defensive end Neil Spencer and defensive back Romeo Horn.

“They showed maturity early on and we felt like they could handle it the way they worked,” Long said. “The biggie is the way they pick things up quickly.”

— TOM SHANAHAN

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.