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Aztecs’ Sergio Phillips valued on either side of the line

August 20, 2016 GMT

Phillips arrived on campus in the spring of 2014 as an offensive lineman, but was soon moved to the other side of the ball. The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Texan appeared in seven games as a true freshman, making the biggest impact with a sack against Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl. Last season, it was back to the offensive line in a reserve role. He played in six games on the O line before returning to the defensive line for the season’s final two games against Air Force and Cincinnati. In fall camp, Phillips has been competing for starting nose tackle with sophomore Noble Hall and junior transfer Jondarius Gardner. With some questions on the offensive line because of injuries, might Phillips return once again to that side of the ball? Not a bad question. We’ll see.

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It’s two weeks until the season opener against New Hampshire and there are still several position battles taking place on the practice field. SDSU head coach Rocky Long is still trying to determine who the backup is to starting quarterback Christian Chapman. Redshirt freshman Ryan Agnew and junior transfer Jimmy Walker are competing. Agnew is believed to have a slight edge. Identifying a wide receiver opposite junior Mikah Holder is another area of interest as well as a linebacker opposite senior Calvin Munson. Long also mentioned a “great battle” between juniors Derek Babiash and Billy Vaughn at cornerback. The most ineresting area of all is on the offensive line, where depth must be developed behind Kwayde Miller, Nico Siragusa, Arthur Flores, Antonio Rosales and Daniel Brunskill across the line. Injuries to Ryan Pope (lung contusion) and Joe Salcedo (torn patellar tendon) have made the situation probloematic. Long would be happy if he can find a backup center for Flores, a player who can play either guard spot and another who can play either tackle spot. Junior transfer Derrick Achayo had a chance at center, but Long that won’t happen. True freshmen Keith Ismael and Tyler Roemer have impressed.

The AP 2016 preseason Top 25 poll debuts on Sunday. The Aztecs, who have been ranked No. 24 in Sports Illustrated and No. 25 by ESPN, are hoping to crack the AP poll as well. After beating Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl to finish the 2015 season with an 11-3 record, SDSU was listed among others receiving votes in the final AP poll. They were the equivalent of No. 29. They received 44 votes from AP voters, twice as many as they had when the regular season ended.