SAN JOSE -- Here's a look at the projected starters and key players at each position for San Jose State.

  • QB: David Fales owns every significant single-season passing record and returns as the team's best and most recognizable player. If a backup is needed, it could be a toss up between run-oriented Blake Jurich or the developing strong arm of Joe Gray.

  • RB: Tyler Ervin will be counted on as the lead back, but Jason Simpson and Alvin Jelks could develop a role in the short yardage offense. Freshman Shane Smith earns the nod at fullback, although how often the Spartans will use the position is still to be determined.

  • WR: Noel Grigsby and Chandler Jones, Nos. 1 and 2 on the school's career receptions list, are the starters. Expect significant contributions from Kyle Nunn (6-2, 198), who brings much needed size to the position, and Jabari Carr, who is five catches away from his 100 career catches.

  • TE: Freshman Billy Freeman will be the starter and is the best receiver among SJSU tight ends. Seniors Travis Lorius and Max Miller will back him up.

  • OL: Sophomore Wes Schweitzer takes over at left tackle for the graduated David Quessenberry. The other four starters from last year all return and are all seniors. Nicholas Kaspar moves from right guard to center, flip-flopping with Reuben Hasani. Ryan Jones returns at left guard and Jon Meyer is back at right tackle.


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  • DL: Travis Raciti anchors the line in the new 3-4 alignment while fellow returning all-conference selection Anthony Larceval starts at nose tackle after battling back from a life-threatening illness last December. Sophomore Tony Popovich enters the starting lineup at the other tackle position. Foloi Vae, Nate Falo and Niko Kittrell provide depth.

  • ILB: Fourth-year starter Keith Smith is the heart and soul of the defense at inside linebacker and is joined by freshman Christian Tago. Ryan Goforth and Moses Saucedo are the key backups and could start the opener if Tago's injured hamstring isn't healed.

  • OLB: This is essentially a new position in SJSU's new defense as it's a hybrid defensive end-linebacker role. Sean Bacon and Eugene Taylor are the starters and JC transfer Garrett Guanella will be a key reserve.

  • DB: Bené Benwikere had seven interceptions last year and will be a versatile leader of the secondary while starting at right cornerback. Jimmy Pruitt lines up on the other side and Chris Hill will be the third corner in nickel situations. Simon Connette and Brandon Monroe are still battling for the strong safety job while Forrest Hightower starts at free safety unless Damon Ogburn Jr. can return from a hamstring injury and reclaim his job, although Ogburn may end up returning as a cornerback. Freshman Tyler Winston has seen backup reps at free safety.

  • ST: Austin Lopez, who went 17 for 17 as a freshman place-kicker, brings stability to that position. Harrison Waid has a school-record 43.0 yard per punt average and also will handle kickoffs. Ervin is slated to return punts and kicks and has three career kick returns for touchdowns. Long snapper Ryan DiSalvo was placed on scholarship after a flawless true freshman season last year. Daniel Bradbury will serve as the holder for a second straight year.

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