Jeff Tedford executed a nice recruiting plan for the 2018 class. The needs were biggest in the trenches, with a number of offensive and defensive linemen graduating and that’s what makes up the bulk of this class. He is also trying to establish deep roots in state, getting recruits to buy in to his success and what he is building at Fresno State. Although the 7th best class in the conference is no coach’s goal, it’s a great starting point for one’s first full season at the helm.
- 16 recruits signed
- 9 offensive, 7 defensive
- 1 player was listed as a 4 star and 7 players in this class were listed at 3-stars by either Rivals or 247.
- Breakdown by state: 15 California, 1 Michigan
QB Steven Comstock
- A true dual-threat quarterback, Comstock pairs a big arm with a great ability to use his legs to make plays. Whether it’s a designed run or avoiding pressure, when he tucks it and runs, he’s very elusive and picks up big yards. When he does throw, Comstock makes quick decisions and accurate throws.
QB Ben Wooldridge
- Wooldridge’s skill set is much more of a traditional pro-style and he and Comstock will compliment each other nicely. He has a strong arm and has a nice, accurate touch on his deep throws. Wooldrige is more mobile that one would think, and is able to effectively escape pressure in the pocket and make throws on the run. Specifically, he keeps his feed constantly moving to evade defenders.
WR Rico Arias
- A big target at the wide receiver position, Arias has a big catch radius and big play potential. He’s a nice route runner who is equally effective at running up the middle as he is down the sidelines. Arias is dangerous after the catch, where he uses is speed to put up big yards after the catch.
WR Emoryie Edwards
- Perhaps one of the more balanced wide receivers in this class, Edwards has a chance to be an explosive player down the line. He was a record breaking receiver in high school, in large part due to his speed, great hands, and big play ability. Edwards has a great ability to highpoint the ball in order to make big catches. There’s a chance he could see the field right away for the Bulldogs.
WR Rodney Wright III
- Wright looks like a natural fit in the offense going forward as a slot receiver. He is extremely quick and possesses breakaway speed once he has the ball in his hands. He also has great hands and a pretty big catch radius for someone his size. Wright doesn’t need much space to find a hole and slip past defenders for a big gain.
JUCO OL Nick Abbs
- Abbs is being brought in to fill a need on the offensive line next season with a few players graduating. It’s clear he has college experience under his belt, as he displays an advanced understanding of offenses and his blocking assignments. Abbs moves well laterally in pass protection for someone his size. He is expected to play right tackle.
OL Elijah Carson
- There’s no other way to put it, Carson is huge. His size sticks out as soon as his tape is on. He suffered an injury early in his senior year, which led to him being a bit under-recruited. He’s pretty mobile for someone so big and strong and appeared to be an integral part of his offense, moving around to whatever direction the play is going in so the team could utilize his blocking skills. He is expected to play tackle for the Bulldogs.
OL Clive Truschel
- Truschel will add some college-ready size to the team and looks to be a good fit on the interior of the line. He’s quick off the snap and stays low to channel his lower body strength. He played all over the line in high school, and his versatility will be a great trait for him going into college. Truschel adds a physical player who will finish his blocks every play.
OL Tyrone Sampson
- A post-signing day announcement, but Sampson was worth the wait as he easily becomes the best player in the class. He’s a massive force at center, where he can be a fixture on every play. He has a high football IQ, reading the defense and adjusting accordingly. After the snap, Sampson becomes an active blocker, pushing the line back and getting into the second level to make blocks. If he announced his commitment on or before signing day, he easily would have been a top 10 MWC recruit this year, as well as making our All-Recruit team. In addition to individual allocates, it likely would’ve made Fresno State higher in our team recruiting rankings as well.
DL Matt Kjeldgaard
- Kjeldgaard looks like a great fit as a defensive tackle going forward. He’s incredibly strong and pairs that with a high motor, combining for a rush of power packed in ever punishing tackle he makes on unsuspecting running backs in the backfield. There are times in his film where he has to fight through two or more blockers, but he is still able to make a play on the ball.
DL Matt Lawson
- A big get for the Bulldogs, Lawson excels at stopping the run. He moves extremely well at his current weight, which is enough where he could play right away if the coaches see fit. Lawson is able to fight through double teams, showing little signs of being slowed down by them at all. He should be a great long-term fit as a nose tackle.
DL Leonard Payne
- Payne has really nice size at defensive end. He’s able to play inside or outside, but with his athleticism, he would be great on the outside where he can contain the run and and provide a consistent pass-rush. Payne may need to add a bit of weight at the next level but he should develop into a starter on the defensive line.
DL Isaiah Johnson
- Another key get in this class, Johnson played wide receiver and outside linebacker in high school but figures to land at the hybrid defensive end position in college, which will suit him well. He will be one of the better athletes on the team without a doubt, as would be expected with a wide receiver turning pass rusher. He should be able to keep up with receivers when he drops back in coverage as well. Johnson is a fluid mover, running with ease and has no trouble getting past blockers on his way to going after the quarterback.
LB Sherwin King
- King’s best years of football are ahead of him. He’s able to read plays very well, and displays good instincts for knowing where the running back wants to go on a run play. He plays with great speed sideline to sideline and covers lots of ground. A big playmaker in high school, King would establish himself at the SAM linebacker position that is so coveted by college coaches these days.
DB Deshawn Ruffin
- Ruffin is a very physical corner back, which will go a long way for him. His time as a high school wide receiver will help him as he will understand offenses and routes, giving him an advantage. He has a good eye for the ball and nice hands, a combination which will allow him to make a few interceptions in the future. Ruffin plays tough in coverage and doesn’t give opponents much breathing room.
DB Shawn Dourseau
- Dourseau will be a dynamic special teams player in the return game. His film shows that he is a threat to take a return back for a TD nearly every time. On defense, he looks like he will fit in at safety. This allows him to cover a lot of ground on the field and read what is transpiring on offense to make a play. Dourseau is a hard hitter with very good instincts.
Headliner(s): Sampson, Johnson
Talented enough to play right away: Sampson, Johnson, Edwards, Lawson
Sleeper Recruit(s): Carson, King
Best unit: It was a tough call between the Offensive and Defensive Lines, but the edge will go to the D-line on this one.
The Bulldogs were another team who made a strong effort to recruit the large pool of talent in their home state of California and it paid off for them. Although they didn’t get the boost one would expect from such a successful 2017 season, they added some talent that can help them as soon as next season as well as a large number of players who should develop into core players for them in a few years. Sampson and Johnson especially are huge gets for them and will have big expectations tied to them. It will be interesting to see if they can build on this class going forward.
Up tomorrow: UNLV
Matt Robeson contributed to this article