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Fresno State football: Bryan Harper, Justin Holmes depart the program

The two defensive backs are the latest in an exodus that has tested the Bulldogs' depth.

Harry How

The Fresno State Bulldogs haven't been hit by injuries like other teams with title hopes in the Mountain West, but they have been subject to a much subtler but equally potent depletion.

Four players have now left the program since the beginning of fall camp, with the announced departures of cornerback Bryan Harper and safety Justin Holmes Tuesday evening. Harper, who had sat out the 2013 season after transferring from Arizona, was in the starting eleven for the season opener against USC but struggled and eventually lost his role to Charles Washington, who had been shuffled from free safety, and true freshman Malcolm Washington. He finishes his season with 15 tackles in five games.

Holmes saw spot duty on special teams and was stuck behind Charles Washington, Derron Smith and Dalen Jones on the depth chart at safety.  He was a no-show at practice Wednesday, according to Robert Kuwada of the Fresno Bee, while Harper had to attend to a family issue.

Their absence figures to stretch a secondary that could hardly afford it. Malcolm Washington is likely to continue learning on the job while Curtis Riley, Jamal Ellis and Stratton Brown see action as needed.  However, Kuwada notes there is some talk of removing the redshirt from Anthoula Kelly, one of the prizes in 2014's recruiting class, in order to shore up depth.