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2022 Recruiting Breakdown: Fresno State

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A class filled with top-end talent

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Fresno State at San Jose State Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the third post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today will look at the #3 team in our rankings, Fresno State.

The Bulldogs recruited a strong class under Coach DeBoer in 2021 and continued it this year in the DeBoer/Tedford hybrid class. The top tier of this class rivals the top tiers of the two schools above it, but Fresno State does have the same quantity of talent as the others. Still, there are a number of players who look great on paper and project to be great college players going forward. Plus, there are some intriguing transfers who have lots of eligibility left and are slotting into key positions. To learn more about the influx of talent coming in, read below.

The Skinny:

  • 22 recruits signed
  • 14 high school players, 4 JUCO players, 4 transfers
  • 11 offensive, 11 defensive
  • 16 three-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • 2 players with a composite rating of 85 or higher
  • 13 players with a composite rating of 82 or higher
  • Breakdown by state: 14 California, 2 Arizona, 1 Georgia, 1 Washington
  • 247 Composite Rankings

- Overall: 69th

- Recruiting: 74th

- Transfer: 39th

The Players:

QB Joshua Wood

Joshua was a late addition to the Fresno State class but is easily one of the most talented players in the class. He is poised in the pocket as he goes through his reads and makes smart decisions. Woods is a gifted runner who can gain yards with his legs just as easily as he can through the air. He is at his best rolling out or in the read-option game. Joshua will be in a backup role next year but will compete for the starting spot in 2023. The Washington State Player of the Year brings a lot of hype and potential, and it looks like the hire of Pat McCann from Eastern Washington is already paying off. He was able to flip Wood from the Eagles just before Signing Day, and he will be competing against Jaylen Henderson and Logan Fife for reps behind Jake Haener.

WR Nathan Acevedo

Nathan is an impactful two-way player coming to play wide receiver for the Bulldogs. He is a shifty player with the ball in his hands and able to slip past-would be tacklers with little issue. Acevedo is a big-time big-play threat, primarily due to his ability to get separation from defenders with his speed and come down with the ball with his strong hands. He follows blockers well and changes directly smoothly. Nathan could find a role early on as a WR with a package of plays and as a returner on special teams if he can stand out once he gets on campus.

WR Jalen Moss

Jalen is a talented player coming into the fold in this class. He can run any route and is just as dangerous along the sidelines as he is over the middle of the field. Moss does a great job getting separation from defensive backs right at the line of scrimmage with his releases. He extends plays well after the catch as he is hard to bring down on the first tackle. Jalen looks the part at receiver and could make an impact right away. While it will be hard to find reps with the skill and experience already on campus, it’s hard to think of another Bay Area receiver in Bulldog red not getting some looks at the field early.

Transfer WR Nikko Keli’i Remigio

Nikko is transferring to Fresno State from down the road at Cal. He is a smooth runner who specializes in being a deep threat. Keli’i Remigio is able to gain a step or two on a defender over the course of his route through his speed. He also he reliable hands which allow him to make some difficult catches. It’s not hard to imagine Nikko playing some kind of role in the Bulldog offense next season. He could easily step in as a punt/kick returner this year, as that is one area where Fresno State has lacked a true gamebreaker.

TE Merhauti Xepera

Merhauti is tight-end prospect coming out of Arizona. He is athletic enough to play offense and defense and can cover a lot of ground on field. Xepera is a tenacious blocker who appears to enjoy laying a physical block on defenders. As a receiver, he presents matchup problems due to his size and ability to slip open. Merhauti will need time to keep developing but should make a difference in the run-game early on in his career.

Transfer TE Velltray Jefferson

Velltray is a Utah transfer and after being a linebacker there, he will come to play tight end for the Bulldogs. His film shows him as a pure playmaker on both side of the ball who can cover the entire field. Jefferson plays with physicality and understands plays as they develop in order to maximize his reactions. He has solid hands, an eye for the ball, and isn’t brought down easily by defenders. Velltray will need time to adjust to a new position but his athleticism could turn him into a big play-maker soon enough. He was originally recruited in high school as a big wide receiver as well as a linebacker when he committed to Utah. It looks like Jeff Tedford wants him back on offense, and could be the big possession tight end like Marcel Jensen was for Derek Carr.

OL Nate Maier

Nate brings a huge presence to the offensive line. He is a menacing blocker who delivers punishing hits and pancakes on defenders. Maier is extremely mobile and athletic and this benefits him greatly when asked to pull on a run play or go stride for stride with pass rushers in protection. He does a great job staying low and using his legs when drivers defenders back in the run game. Nate has the frame of a tackle and the skill set of a guard, so he can fit into a number of positions going forward.

OL Marcus Simien

Marcus is a two-way lineman who will stay on the offensive side of the ball in college. He is explosive off the line and plays through the whistle, no matter what his assignment is. Simien is a tenacious blocker who is capable of driving defenders back ten or more yards on plays once he gets leverage. He has light feet and is quick for someone his size. Marcus profiles best at guard and can excel at that position in due time.

JUCO OL Daniel Taumalolo

Daniel comes from the junior college level to Fresno State. He burst out of his stance when the ball is snapped and moves into position instantly. Taumalolo combines good technique with power and sometimes can block multiple people at once. He is mobile and resets the line of scrimmage with his ability to drive defenders wherever he wants to. Daniel should be able to step in at a guard spot and help significantly in the run game.

JUCO OL Anthony LaFrance

Anthony is another talented JUCO lineman. He has great size and frame, plus speed and athleticism that allows him to get out ahead of running backs to block downfield. LaFrance moves well laterally and squares up on his blocks, matching the angles of defenders to neutralize their pass-rushing attempts. He does a good job staying low in his stance and plays through the whistle. Anthony will help to fortify the o-line as soon as next season, likely at one of the tackle positions.

DT Jacob Holmes

Jacob is a talented interior defensive lineman the Bulldogs were able to secure. He simply overpowers would-be blockers at the line of scrimmage, getting into the backfield with ease. Holmes disrupts both pass and run plays with his play-making ability and knack for getting to the ball. He is a strong run-stopper in the middle, and standing at 6’3” and 280lbs already, he has room to add even more to his frame. Jacob has the potential to grow into the next great defensive lineman at Fresno State, perhaps by the end of 2022, and certainly in 2023.

DT Gavriel Lightfoot

Gavriel is coming to the Bulldogs to shore up the interior of their defensive line. He is a massive player in the middle of the line beats blockers with no problem, whether it is one or two people trying to stop him. Lightfoot plays hard and fast and is able to get in the backfield quickly due to his first-step burst. He excels in bull-rushes and swim-moves to get off blocks and is often simply too strong to be contained. Gavriel looks like he can fill the role of nose tackle for years to come.

JUCO DT Johnny Hudson

Johnny is the third JC lineman in this class but this one is on defense. He is a physical force, simply bullying would-be blockers on his way to disrupt a play. Hudson bull-rushes linemen on his way to piling up sacks and tackles for loss. His strength is his carrying tool but his is also quick and agile around the line of scrimmage. Johnny looks like he can be in a starting role as soon as day one.

DE Sione Noa

Sione is a long athletic pass-rusher in this class. He flies off the line of scrimmage as soon as a play starts and is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback. Noa is also patient in stopping the run or holding contain on the edge, reading the play, and not over pursuing. He is also physical and strong, pushing back blocks and finding a way to get to the ball. Sione has all the skills necessary to become a premiere pass-rusher.

DE Jahzon Jacks

Jahzon brings prototypical size to the defensive end position. He has the skills to go with it too, fighting through blocks with a high motor. Jacks is strong and fierce one the ball is snapped and simply bullies his way through offensive linemen to chase down the quarterback. He is an asset in run defense as well, holding his ground and squaring up to make a tackle. Given time, Jahzon should develop into a solid pass rusher during his college career.

DE Miles Bailey

Miles is a major talent at defensive end. He is equally skilled at defending both the run and the pass using his length and mobility. Bailey gets into the backfield with ease due to his size and strength advantage and stops running backs and quarterbacks alike. He wraps up in tackles extremely well due to his long wingspan. Miles is capable to play inside or outside on the defensive line and has a chance to play early for the Bulldogs.

LB Tim Thomas

Tim flew under the radar a bit but has a lot of talent as a linebacker. He is patient when diagnosing plays and then flies towards the ball to make an impact. Thomas is very versatile, able to shut down the run or bring pressure as a creative blizter. He is an excellent tackler in the open field and loads well before a hit, using his lower body. Tim is an all-around linebacker who probably fits best on the weak-side.

Transfer LB Raymond Scott

Raymond is another USC transfer who will be coming in as a linebacker. He can cover the field sideline to sideline and has good instincts as he reacts to plays. Scott is a forceful tackler who doesn’t let people break his hits. He is strong enough to bring people down even when he doesn’t get a good hold on the ball carrier. Raymond should improve the linebacker room right away next fall.

DB Michael Whaley

Michael is one of the defensive backs Fresno State signed in this class. He is also a dynamic returner, who eludes tacklers and displays his speed in the open field. Whaley tracks the ball skillfully in the air and high points the ball well. He is at his best as a deep safety who can cover a lot of ground in order to make a play on the ball. Michael should help provide depth in the secondary sooner rather than later.

DB Jomarion Briggs

Jomarion is a tall, long defensive back with impact potential at the position. He has a developed ability to read plays as they are happening and tracks the ball well in the air. Briggs is physical at the point of contact, whether that is fighting for the ball in the air or stepping up to contribute in the run game. He doesn’t give up on plays and is able to run a player down and make a big hit. Jomarion has the potential to play immediately and has the speed and skills to stick at cornerback in college and his height gives him a huge advantage.

JUCO DB Carlton Johnson

Carlton is a veteran presence coming into the secondary. He plays tight man coverage, gaining leverage that allows him to be in position to make a play on the ball. Johnson diagnoses plays well and displays good instincts, which assist him in his playmaking ability. He possesses great closing speed and has active hands. Carlton looks like a natural at cornerback and it’s easy to see him getting playing time come the fall.

Transfer DB Cameron Lockridge

Cameron is another veteran defensive back in this class, transferring from Hawaii. He is at his best sitting back into coverage, where he can see the whole field and step up to make a play. Lockridge is skilled at shadowing the quarterback so he is in position to get into the passing lanes. He has good hands from his time as a wide receiver in high school and tracks the ball well in the air. Cameron should be able to find a role on the field next fall and help the team right away.

Team Writer Thoughts:

The class builds on the things that Fresno State, and namely Jeff Tedford, knows well. They have been adding both depth as well as talent in the trenches, and the long line of great Fresno State wide receivers should continue once players like Jalen Cropper and Josh Kelly graduate. The transfer additions of Raymond Scott and Cameron Lockridge should be instant contributors, and players like Joshua Wood have the potential to be the heir apparent to Jake Haener in 2023.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Moss, Briggs, Wood, Bailey

Matt: Moss, Briggs, Lockridge, Wood

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Moss, Briggs, Wood, Bailey, Holmes

Matt: Briggs, Maier, Scott

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Simien, Lightfoot

Matt: Maier, Lightfoot

Best unit:

Mike: Defensive Line, Wide Receiver

Matt: Defensive Line, Wide Receiver

Summary:

There it is for the Bulldogs. It’s an impressive class, one that Tedford was able to keep together due in large part to retaining some of the previous coaches on staff and also the fact that Tedford was in the program two years ago, so there is some mutual familiarity there. They continue to attract some of the top high school talent in the conference and have become a destination for quite a few transfers from big-name programs as well. Tedford has the track record of being a sensational developmental coach and now has a class full of talent to mold into strong college players.

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