Wide receiver, #84
After just two appearances on the gridiron this season, Gaither looks poised for a breakout campaign. The sophomore saw limited action in 2016, but he has emerged as the Spartans’ number-one target to open the new year. Gaither recorded his first 100-yard receiving game of his career in San Jose State’s home opener against then-No. 19 South Florida. The redshirt sophomore scored two touchdowns in the first quarter in the 42-22 loss, sparking the Spartans’ offense to an early 16-0 lead. Gaither built on his stellar debut in his second game last Saturday, recording 56 receiving yards and a touchdown in San Jose State’s decisive 34-13 victory over Cal Poly of the FCS.
Down 6-0 in the second quarter against heavy underdog Cal Poly, the Spartans decided to implement a change in the offense. Redshirt freshman Montel Aaron replaced sophomore Josh Love at the quarterback position and immediately ignited the Spartans to victory. Aaron threw for four completions and 60 yards on his first six passes of the game, finishing the possession with an 18-yard strike to wide receiver JaQuan Blackwell to obtain a 7-6 lead — one that would never be relinquished. Through two contests, Aaron has thrown for 269 yards and four touchdowns on just 30 throws, all without turning the ball over once. He faces a Texas defense that allowed 51 points to Maryland last Saturday, so Aaron will attempt to improve his impressive touchdowns-to-attempts ratio in his third collegiate game.
The heart of the Spartans’ defense, Chachere is the team’s leader when it comes to locking down opposing receivers. The senior led San Jose State with 14 pass deflections in 2016, earning First Team All-Mountain West honors as a result of his on-field dominance. Chachere intercepted four passes, returned the for 117 yeards (11th in the nation), forced two fumbles and recorded 36 tackles in the 2016 season. As a result, he was one of 45 defensive backs around the country to appear on the preseason Jim Thorpe Award watch list. San Jose State’s reigning team MVP is one of the top cornerbacks Texas will face all season and is sure to hear his name called this spring during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Inside linebacker, #5
Ginda led the Spartans with 99 tackles in 2016. The inside linebacker has served as a dominant force in both the running game and as a pass rusher. Out of all returning San Jose State defenders, Ginda holds the most sacks to his name by bringing down quarterbacks on 6.5 occasions in 2016. Through two games this season, Ginda is already picking up from where he left off, recording three tackles for loss — on pace to surpass his impressive total of 11.5 from a year ago. The junior is a vital member of the team’s linebacking corps and leads the unit with 30 tackles in 2017.