SAN JOSE — Newly hired coach Ron Caragher had the opportunity to watch a few practices as San Jose State prepared for the Military Bowl last December. He turned his observations into evaluations and decided to boost prospects on the defensive line for his first season at the helm.

The Spartans, who finished 11-2 and No. 21 in the AP Top 25, signed eight defensive linemen out of 20 overall commitments Wednesday.

San Jose State graduates three defensive ends, so Caragher went after a pair of JC linemen among the five who were signed from the community college ranks.

"When you have pressing needs you feel better with a 20- or 21-year-old who is more developed," Caragher said. "We can watch film of them playing against a higher level."

The Spartans also signed a tight end, linebacker and running back from various junior colleges.

Five of those who officially signed are already enrolled in school and eligible for spring practice, which gets under way on Feb. 19.

Overall, San Jose State signed nine offensive players, nine defensive players and two overall athletes.

"We have some good momentum with the football program," Caragher said. "We can talk about a Top 25 ranking, a bowl victory and the move to the Mountain West Conference. I wish August could be here soon. Geez, I'm already jumping ahead of spring."

Seven all-state players, three with JC experience, are among the incoming group. Defensive end Garrett Guanella from Santa Rosa, running back Alvin Jelks from Salinas and tight end Ryan Ena from Palomar were named to the JC all-state team.