La Cueva grad moves from walk-on to scholarship at SDSU
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When the San Diego State Aztecs open training camp Monday, Stan Sedberry will be competing for a chance to fill Brian Urlacher’s role in Rocky Long’s defense.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even on scholarship 10 days ago.
On July 26, Sedberry, who starred at La Cueva High School before walking on with the Aztecs in 2011, got surprising news from Long, the former University of New Mexico and current San Diego State head coach.
Sedberry sat in his coach’s office after a meeting and found out he had earned a scholarship.
“It was just pure excitement,” Sedberry said. “I’ve been working for this for two years and it’s a great feeling.
“(Long) had brought it up in a team meeting and asked to see me in his office, and then he broke the news. It was just pure excitement.”
Sedberry, who was named All-State at both running back and linebacker at La Cueva, is listed as San Diego State’s No. 2 “Aztec” safety, which is SDSU’s version of the “Lobo” position Urlacher played for Long at UNM.
“It’s a great position. It’s like a hybrid linebacker-safety position, so I get to come downhill and play in the box as well as play in coverage,” Sedberry said. “It’s a lot of fun. I love watching how Urlacher played it. This position really allows you to go all out and make plays.”
Sedberry made enough plays in limited time to work his way up the depth chart and earn a scholarship, but he’s not satisfied yet.
“”It’s been a dream for sure to get to where I am now,” Sedberry said. “Now it’s not about seeing if I can play with them. It’s about trying to earn a starting spot and contribute to the team. During spring ball, I worked my way up to the No. 2 spot. When camp opens Monday, I’ll be competing for No. 1.”
Sedberry earned All-State honors at running back in high school despite backing up Ronnie Daniels, one of the top running backs in New Mexico history. But Sedberry didn’t garner much attention from his home-state schools after graduation in 2010.
“I did get recruited by UNM, but they didn’t offer me,” Sedberry said. “They wanted me to walk on because of the lottery scholarship, which kind of sucks because they want people in state to use that instead of giving you a scholarship. The same thing for New Mexico State.”
Minus offers from UNM or NMSU, Sedberry turned to Long’s former strength and conditioning coach and family friend Mark Paulsen for help in getting a chance to play for the Aztecs.
“Mark Paulsen, we know him, he’s a family friend. So we actually contacted Rocky Long through him,” Sedberry said. “I kind of recruited myself. They didn’t know me out of high school, but I was able to get out there. Within a week, I had gotten into school, had been accepted and was out there.
“Once I saw an opportunity at San Diego State, I thought I’d take a chance and see what I can do. I definitely wanted to test myself, to see if I could play at that level.”
Playing at the Division I level would have to wait, however, as Sedberry sat out his freshman year as a redshirt in 2011.
“It’s really hard. Yyou definitely get a gut check,” Sedberry said. “Freshman year was really hard. Not being able to play in games and just having to watch is really tough. Looking back on it, it definitely makes you appreciate playing and gives you great work ethic to try get a spot and be able to play.”
Sedberry got his chance to play last season mostly on special teams. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder made four tackles and forced a fumble.
Now, he hopes to take advantage of his chance to join the defense and prove he can contribute for the Aztecs and for Long.
“They’re looking for playmakers,” Sedberry said. “I just have to be ready to make plays when it’s my turn, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Hopefully, I seize the opportunity I have right now and get some playing time on defense this year.”