Hometown Report

Before 100,000 sets of eyes at Texas, freshman QB from Antelope to get shot as starter

San Jose State quarterback Montel Aaron (7) passes against South Florida on Aug. 26 in San Jose.
San Jose State quarterback Montel Aaron (7) passes against South Florida on Aug. 26 in San Jose. AP

This is what Montel Aaron gets for winning the quarterback job at San Jose State: a memorably monstrous challenge.

And he’ll take it.

A redshirt freshman out of Antelope High School, Aaron will lead the Spartans into one of the storied venues in college football on Saturday. Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium is the 100,119-seat home of the Texas Longhorns, winners of four national championships, 27 bowl games, 32 conference championships and 891 games.

And sore losers last week to 18-point underdog Maryland, which went into Austin and prevailed 51-41, igniting an angry social media mob demanding better results.

Underdogs by 26 points, San Jose State will receive a $1 million payout for showing up, and the Spartans will see how much heat the 6-foot-5 Aaron can take as the Mountain West Conference contenders seek to settle on a passer. Aaron came off the bench last week at home against Cal Poly to relieve struggling starter Josh Love. Aaron passed for 183 yards and three touchdowns to key a 34-13 victory.

It was 108 degrees at kickoff (it’ll be a balmy 82 in Austin).

“Montel made a step in the direction of being ‘the guy,’ ” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan told reporters after the game.

Said Aaron, “I just try to stay ready for my shot.”

Paulhus perseverance – Austin Paulhus did not receive a single Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offer while at Granite Bay High, and just one – Georgia State – during a tackle-heavy two-year run at American River College. After his JC career, the linebacker jumped at an offer from Nevada, and it’s paid off. The senior had 15 tackles, 3.5 for loss, in an opening game against Northwestern. Nevada hosts Toledo on Saturday.

Hornets at home – Sacramento State hosts Incarnate Word with a ripe opportunity to hand the Cardinals of San Antonio another loss in the valley. Incarnate Word, in its first season as a full-fledged Division I institution, lost 66-0 at Fresno State last week as Taylor Laird of Oakmont High and Sacramento City College passed for 90 yards for the Cardinals.

Sac State had just four interceptions a year ago but had two in an opening 28-6 loss at Idaho. Dre Terrell of Pleasant Grove and Mister Harriel of Antelope had picks for the Hornets. Terrell and Malcolm Thomas of Woodcreek each had sacks, an example of the Hornets’ success recruiting locally.

Aggies opener – UC Davis plays San Diego at Aggie Stadium in Dan Hawkins’ home debut. Receiver Keelan Doss was a bright spot for UCD in its 38-17 loss at San Diego State with eight catches for 181 yards.

It’ll be an Oak Ridge High homecoming of sorts for San Diego with the regional return of tight end Ross Dwelley, running back Blake Martin and receiver Justin Priest, each a starter. Dwelley and Priest caught touchdown passes, and Martin ran for 54 yards in the Toreros’ 34-20 opening win over Western New Mexico.

Safety Colton Giorgi, another Oak Ridge alum, led San Diego in tackles in each of the past two seasons.

Coach Pete relates – When Jake Browning was blindsided on a crushing sack at Rutgers, Washington coach Chris Petersen winced with a flashback.

While quarterbacking UCD against Chico State in 1986, Petersen was flattened by a former Yuba City High teammate, though he recovered to lead a 33-30 victory, completing 30 of 38 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns.

“He blasted me – you always remember the hardest ones,” Petersen recalled Monday after Washington beat Rutgers 30-14. Browning (Folsom High) jumped back up and finished with 284 yards and two touchdowns. Petersen added on Browning’s shot, “That was a tough hit. Those are like the worst kind. He’s fine, though. First thing he said to me was, ‘I was up in two seconds!’ So he’s a tough guy.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD