With each football season that passes, there are fewer Fresno State players who were recruited and brought in by the previous coaching staff.
This upcoming season in particular will be the first without record-breaking quarterback Derek Carr. And without a clear-cut heir apparent at quarterback, it's all the more important for coach Tim DeRuyter and his staff to hit solidly in as many other positions as possible.
It starts with recruiting. But it remains to be seen if DeRuyter has the same persuasive touch as predecessor Pat Hill as he finalizes his third recruiting class at Fresno State with National Letter of Intent Signing Day Wednesday.
Barring medical redshirt waivers, Fresno State won't have anymore Hill recruits following the 2015 season after relying on them heavily -- for example, in the Las Vegas Bowl only four Bulldogs starters were DeRuyter recruits.
"It's still a bit early to tell how DeRuyter has done recruiting and developing his recruits," said Brandon Huffman, a college football and recruiting analyst for Fox Sports/Scout.com.
"One of the toughest things when you're at Fresno -- and it was the same story under Pat Hill and Jim Sweeney -- is holding on to guys. Fresno would identify guys early on and then bigger schools would come along and swoop them up and kill Fresno State's efforts. But it seems like DeRuyter and his staff did a better job holding on to some guys this year.
"One thing that's different this recruiting season from past years is that unlike Pat Hill, DeRuyter was more aggressive going after high-star players early on. Hill would usually wait until after a lot of schools made their offers before he'd go after those highly touted players. DeRuyter's approach seems to give Fresno State a better chance to sign them."
As of Tuesday evening, Fresno State had received non-binding oral commitments from 20 players, according to recruiting services Rivals.com and Scout.com. DeRuyter, who declined an interview Tuesday, has not been allowed to talk about recruits per NCAA rules.
Huffman believes the top recruits Fresno State will sign are linebacker Michael Lazarus from Berkeley High and running back Kurt Scoby of Monrovia. Both rate as three-star recruits on the five-star scale used by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
"I'm ready to be a Bulldog," Lazarus said. "I can't wait. A lot of people don't always know about Fresno State's history. But once they learn about that and realize how much of a family atmosphere they have, it's a great program to be a part of."
Part of that history is now engrained in the recruiting pitch: Back-to-back Mountain West Conference tiles, including an outright title this past fall.
The Bulldogs' high-powered, passing-intensive offense and turnover-forcing, blitzing defense seem to appeal to many recruits also.
"We've had a couple years now to put a product on the field that has won two championships and 20 games and I think that our recruits are seeing an exciting product, great support from our Red Wave and realize that the future is extremely bright," DeRuyter said in a news release.
Still, it doesn't appear that's been enough for Fresno State to lock up top-level recruits from the central San Joaquin Valley, including four-star receiver Michiah Quick and four-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood, both out of Central High.
Quick is expected to unveil his decision Wednesday, and Smallwood is orally committed to Arizona State, though he considered Fresno State as his runner-up school, according to Central assistant Tony Perry.
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