Welcome to the fourth piece of our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. These articles aim to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured this year in alphabetical order. Today will look at Fresno State.
The Bulldogs were poised to be one of the best teams in the Group of 5 entering the season, but things did not go according to plan. They suffered injuries to key players early in the season and started the season 1-4 in large part due to those injuries. However, Fresno State managed to turn things around in the middle of the year, thanks to a soft part of the schedule, building some positive momentum, and getting healthy. They won their final nine games of the season, including the Moutain West Championship and LA Bowl. The Bulldogs did in fact end the season as one of the best G5 teams in the country.
Now that the season is over, they lose most of their top talent, including nearly all of their offensive skill players, as well as their two best defenders. In an attempt to reload quickly, Fresno State has put together a talented recruiting class with an emphasis on junior college players. Read about the class below.
The Road So Far:
Fresno State saw an uptick in their recruiting under DeBoer, but this signing class resembles more of what things looked like for Coach Tedford’s first go-around. They signed 16 players, 10 on offense and 6 on defense. As mentioned above, 5 players came from the junior college circuit, plus 1 transfer, meaning the other 10 are high schoolers. All but three of them come from California, with Arizona, Louisiana, and Oregon being the others.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs took two quarterbacks, two running backs, one wide receiver, three tight ends, and two offensive linemen. Mikey Keene is a transfer being brought in to start immediately, but Jayden Mandal is the future. Running back Devon Rivers is a legacy player, with his brother and father playing for the Bulldogs, and he is joined by Charlie Greer. Tim Grear is a wide out from junior college and figured to be slated for a big role. There was a big focus on tight ends, which Fresno State uses very well, and high schoolers Brock Lium and Richie Anderson figure to develop behind JUCO player Jake Tarwater. Offensive line was a big need and they brought in two junior college players to help that in Hayden Pulis and Caleb Barajas.
Over on the defense, they added a few players, but it is the lighter side of the ball. Three new players come long the defensive line, with JUCO defensive tackle Dupre Mendoza joining high school signees Mordecai Hines (DL) and Isiah Chala (DE). RL Miller is a talented linebacker, but the real position to pay attention to is defensive back. The two signees at that position are Brandon Ramirez and Justin Johnson, with the latter having a good chance to play early.
Number who signed in December: 16
Number who will enroll early: 5
247 Composite Rankings:
- Overall: 86th
- Recruiting: 91st
- Transfer: 46th
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: LB, WR, OL, DB
Fresno State’s current group of signees is on track for December, but is a bit small for a complete class, so they figure to add to that number between now and February. Still, they have a solid class so far, and if they keep on their current trajectory, things should work out well.
Some key spots still need to be addressed by the Bulldogs. Wide receiver looks to be a big area of need, considering the talent they are losing at that position. A transfer player will be helpful but finding a high school player with potential could be worthwhile too. Linebacker may be one of the bigger needs on defense, along with another defensive back. Bolstering the depth on defense will go a long way toward replenishing the talent. Finally, they could stand to keep improving the offensive line. It was an area of weakness this past season and finding someone from the transfer portal or another junior college player would increase the potential of the unit being better.
The Bulldogs are well on their way to securing a solid signing day class. They have most of the pieces in place currently but need to fill the gaps going forward. This class should be an indicator if Fresno State can reload or rebuild next year.
Coming next: Hawaii