By John Philip Wyllie
While his odds of seeing substantial playing time seem remote, Aztec wide receiver Simon Ayala keeps plugging away making sure that if he gets that eagerly anticipated call he will be ready. The Oxnard, California junior, a transfer from Moorpark J.C. is one of many talented wide-outs vying for playing time in the Aztecs pre-season camp. His touchdown reception during Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t hurt his chances, but Ayala is realistic about his prospects.
“As of right now, I am just a walk on. I am not too sure about how much time I will see, but things happen,” Ayala said.
One of those things is injuries. The Aztecs know all about those having had more than their fair share a year ago. In order to rebound from last year’s disappointing 3-9 performance, they will have to avoid the devastating injuries that derailed their 2006 season.
The Aztecs open their 2007 campaign on the road with games against Washington State (9/8) and Arizona State (9/15). Then they return for their home opener September 22 against Portland State. That game doubles as the KGB Sky Show, so one way or another there will be lots of fireworks on the field. Ayala and his teammates are enthusiastic about their prospects this season despite the dire preseason prognostications.
He talked about his career at Moorpark J.C. and the difference between playing Division I football versus playing at a junior college.
“My biggest highlight (at Moorpark) was winning a bowl game during my freshman year against the College of the Desert. The game went into overtime, so it was pretty exciting. I wasn’t really a star there. I was more of a possession receiver. In fact, my whole career I have always been overshadowed. I wasn’t expected to play here. I’m not the fastest or strongest receiver, but when it comes down to it I get the job done. I want to keep playing as long as I can,” he added. “There is a big difference (between playing at SDSU and for a J.C.) Last year I was able to get a job because we only practiced for a few hours at a time. Here, this is my job.”
With football taking up so much of his time Ayala finds it a challenge to keep up with his course work.
“It is tough. I was out here for spring ball for the first time with the team and managing that and school was difficult. I think the key is just in managing your time. I’ve always been a last minute type of person, but that has changed since coming here. You have to know what needs to be done and get those things done early. That way you don’t have to stress.”