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San Jose State University Spartans' starting quarterback David Fales (10) throws against the Bowling Green Falcons in the fourth quarter in the the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. (Nhat V. Meyer/Staff)

LAS VEGAS -- The crush of attention given to San Jose State players David Fales and Keith Smith during Mountain West Conference media days shows how far removed the Spartans are from their days as a forgettable program.

An hourlong block set aside for media to interview Fales and Smith wasn't long enough, as the session had to be halted for the players to get to their next appointed rounds. It's a new level of attention for San Jose State, and especially for Fales, the face of the suddenly burgeoning Spartans.

All the chips are in for the Spartans as they enter the MWC rife with heightened exposure and expectations for their players and first-year coach Ron Caragher, who commented Tuesday on his star quarterback's media poise.

"He handled it naturally," Caragher said. "He seemed like a seasoned vet at doing that, just like he stepped in last year as the new kid on the block and really established himself as a veteran."

Fales was everywhere during his Monday stint in the spotlight. Interview after interview, he recited his winding tale that landed him at SJSU and led to his producing the greatest season by a quarterback in Spartans history.

"Mr. David Fales," as he's now dubbed by teammates, has seen an offseason full of attention. From outperforming Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, among others, at the Elite 11 camp last month in Oregon, to some first-round 2014 NFL draft projections, Fales has remained stoic.


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"It's exciting for my friends and my mom and family, but for me, it never gets to me. I just stay focused," Fales said. "You've got to know what it took to get you there, and it'll be gone if you don't keep performing."

Throughout his time under the microscope, Fales spoke without the hint of an ego. When he wasn't fulfilling his media obligations, Fales was constantly a visible presence during the event. There was no big-timing, no matter how big-time he's become.

Smith appreciates the way his quarterback has handled the recognition.

"One thing I respect about this guy is he's the same exact person that he was before," Smith said. "I feel like that's one of his strengths, his modesty and not getting ahead of himself and in to all the hype."

The Spartans' move to the Mountain West already has resulted in an all-time high six games scheduled for national television. At least nine games will be available to watch either on TV or online.

"I think it comes at a good time," Caragher said of the additional coverage. "Coming off last season's finish, a top-25 ranking was exciting. But our players know that one season doesn't mean you've arrived."

The larger spotlight is new to Caragher, too. His six years as head coach at San Diego didn't see this kind of attention. But he seemed to fit right in with the crowd and is excited about the new opportunities to bring attention to the program.

Caragher recently joined Twitter (Twitter.com/HeadCoachRC), although much of his presence online is handled by Paul Tremblay, the team's student support assistant.

"I'm trying to learn," Caragher said. "I'm not the most tech-savvy, I'm maybe a little old school. I'm open to it. I'm trying it out, and if it helps expose San Jose State Spartan football, the Mountain West Conference, then I'm all for it."

  • Caragher said senior defensive tackle Anthony Larceval is expected to be medically cleared to join the team for training camp. Larceval, a second-team All-WAC pick last year, was hospitalized in December with a serious undisclosed illness that forced him to miss the Military Bowl and was thought to keep him out for this season.

  • Kicker Austin Lopez's recovery from a torn meniscus in his right knee is going well. He remains on track for the opener Aug. 29 against Sacramento State.

    Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.

    ONLINE EXTRA

    Mountain West Conference
    coaches say they're glad to see
    San Jose State and Utah State added to their conference.
    For more, www.mercurynews.com/sjsu-spartans