As ’12 3-star Wide Receiver Eric Judge signed his Letter of Intent to attend college and play football at San Diego State University there was a collective sigh of relief on the part of many SDSU fans. Long since the source of talented High school gridiron stars (Marcus Allen, John Lynch, Reggie Bush, etc.) San Diego has rarely seen its hometown stars ink with the hometown football program. Although Judge does not enter with the fanfare of the aforementioned, he carried an offer from UCLA and generated considerable interest from the likes of Oregon and Cal. Any SDSU football fan worth his/her salt knows all too well this is the type of talent which, up until the arrival of Brady Hoke and Rocky Long, usually donned a uniform other than the red and black of the Aztecs. The long promised “fence around San Diego” has yet to materialize. Recently graduated QB Ryan Lindley contributed to that goal, and Aztec faithful are hoping for more of the same from recent SDSU local products King Holder, JJ Whitaker, and Jake Fely. Eric Judge exudes the confidence of such a contributor, but as is the case with ever soon to be freshman D1 athlete, the journey between Signing Day and Game day is a formidable one.
Carrying a Rivals.com listed 40 time of 4.4 (ESPN 4.64) there’s little question Judge brings next level speed each time he steps onto a football field. You don’t have to travel deep into an Eric Judge highlight mix to discern the San Diego Cavers plan for involving #11 in the game-plan, “throw it high and deep and let Judge run under it”. What is noticeably absent from the same game film(s) is much outside of the “Go” and “Fly” routes which oft limit the development of speedy High school Wide Receivers. Judge appears proficient in tracking and then catching the ball in stride, and is all but impossible to catch from behind once he hits top speed. What remains somewhat in question is his ability/willingness to go across the middle, quickly get out of breaks and cuts, and effectiveness when facing aggressive/press coverage. The fact UCLA saw enough to extend an offer of a scholarship, and that offensive powerhouse Oregon was deliberating about doing the same, help substantiate the local excitement the Judge recruitment and signing generated. At 6’1 and 180lbs and possessing reliable hands he will most likely see inside and slot duty. Worth noting, while at San Diego High, Judge also saw some time as a makeshift QB in a Pistol/Spread formation. There’s evidence of decent elusiveness and an ability to surprise oncoming defenders with a turn the corner burst.
As is the case with most incoming freshman skills players the biggest challenge facing Judge may be his comfort in dealing with the increased physicality and size/speed of his D1 opponents. Alongside fellow ’12 commit Lloyd Mills, Judge looks to shore up a SDSU receiving core which largely underperformed last season. There remains question as to the Aztecs QB situation which may hinder Judge/Mills ability to hit the ground running. Historically a Pass first a WR friendly program, under current Coach Rocky Long (and previously under Brady Hoke) SDSU has transitioned to a TE-centric focus with an increased reliance on the Run game. Although this approach may limit his touches, Judge should be afforded the time to gradually come to speed with the college game under the tutelage of well-respected Wide Receivers Coach LeCharles McDaniel. Given time to refine his technique and develop familiarity with the system and a QB, I expect Judge to establish himself as a consistent contributor early in his career and a passing game keystone come his junior and senior seasons. The local talent remained local, and that represents a victory of sorts. Eric Judge plans to far exceed that fleeting-euphoria as he looks to make his mark for the hometown Aztecs.