This is the first in a series of position group previews throughout Sacramento State training camp. To view all stories about the Hornets, select the "News" button at the top of the page.
SACRAMENTO STATE'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL KICKOFF IS COMING SOON
Get your 2019 college football season started the right way at Sacramento State's College Football Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Hornet Stadium from 6-9 p.m.. The free, family-friendly event, will feature tailgate games, football drills, opportunities for pictures and autographs with Sacramento State coaches and players, and performances from the marching band, cheer and dance teams.
DEFENSIVE LINE PREVIEW
Two years ago, Sacramento State led the FCS with 43 sacks for an average of 3.91 per game. That total set the school's Div. I single-season record and ranked second all-time by a Hornet team. In all, 14 players were credited with a sack as the team brought pressure from all angles. Last season, Sacramento State was limited to 13 total sacks and only six players earned at least 1.0 sacks. New defensive coordinator Andy Thompson will be tasked with rejuvenating the Hornet pass rush and will be aided with the return of an all-Big Sky first teamer.
Senior George Obinna started 2018 as a preseason All-American after earning first team all-Big Sky honors following the 2017 season. That year, he tied for the team lead with 12.5 tackles-for-loss, including 8.5 sacks. Obinna's season was limited to two games and just two tackles before injuries cut the year short. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility and enters the season with 19.5 career sacks and could challenge for the school record.
Defensive tackles Seperine Aumua and Elijah Chambers led the defensive linemen last season with 15 tackles each. Aumua had started 32 consecutive games on the interior of the line which was the longest streak on the team but was forced to medically retire after the spring. Last year he had three tackles in three games for his high. Chambers got off to a strong start to the season where he had 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks at San Diego State, Northern Colorado and Montana.
Senior Dariyn Choates has played both inside and outside on the line. Choates started the final five games of the year at defensive tackle and finished the year with 11 total tackles.
The defensive end spot opposite of Obinna could come down to Killian Rosko, Wyatt Hjelm or Josh Cooper. All three saw time last season and combined for 30 tackles, including 6.5 for loss.
Other returners who could work their way into the rotation are Josiah Erickson (injured last season) and redshirts Marshaun Hunter, Dylan Petti, Blake Nydam, Jett Stanley, Joshua Lee and Aaron Blaylock.
The newcomers will be led by a pair of local products who were both all-city selections. Both Tyler Hardemann (Folsom HS) and Brandon Knott (Inderkum HS) were named to the Sacramento Bee all-metro first team last season. Hardemann was the Defensive Player of the Year and was also named all-state by MaxPreps. Knott played on the offensive and defensive lines and was his league's MVP.
Dariyn Choates (17 career starts, 68 career tackles, 12.5, career TFLs, 5.5 career sacks, 6 PBUs)
George Obinna (25 career starts, 90 career tackles, 27.0 career TFLs, 19.5 career sacks, 4 FF)
Seperine Togia Aumua (32 career starts)
David Perales (10 career starts)
Aaron Blaylock (6-0, 265, RFr., Lancaster, Calif./Paraclete HS)
Elijah Chambers (6-1, 265, Jr., San Jacinto, Calif./San Jacinto HS)
Dariyn Choates (6-3, 270, Sr., Seaside, Calif./Seaside HS)
Josh Cooper (6-2, 220, So., Bellflower, Calif./Downey HS)
Josiah Erickson (6-2, 225, RJr., San Dimas, Calif./San Dimas HS)
Wyatt Hjelm (6-4, 245, Jr., Oakdale, Calif./Oakdale HS)
Marshaun Hunter (6-2, 225, RFr., Sacramento, Calif./Del Campo HS)
Joshua Lee (6-2, 315, Fr., Moreno Valley, Calif./Canyon Springs HS)
Blake Nydam (6-2, 220, RSr., Laton, Calif./Fresno City JC)
George Obinna (6-3, 240, RSr., Tracy, Calif./Tracy HS)
Dylan Petti (6-3, 305, Jr., Riverside, Calif./Notre Dame HS)
Killian Rosko (6-4, 250, Jr., Sonora, Calif./Sonora HS)
Jett Stanley (6-4, 260, RFr., Brentwood, Calif./Heritage HS)
Leke Fashola (6-2, 250, Fr., Concord, Calif./Clayton Valley HS)
Tyler Hardeman (6-3, 275, Fr., Cameron Park, Calif./Folsom HS)
Brandon Knott (6-2, 245, Fr., Sacramento, Calif./Inderkum HS)