As Fresno State regroups following the dismissal of coach Tim DeRuyter, the Bulldogs’ recruits are also trying to make sense of their next step.
Seven players who previously gave oral commitments to Fresno State said they’re sticking with their decisions as National Signing Day approaches Feb. 1. But five are waiting to learn who will be the Bulldogs’ 18th head football coach before finalizing their decisions and another already de-committed earlier this month.
Cody Watson, a linebacker from Chaminade College Prep in Hollywood, Florida, has been following the situation via social media and the internet and said he’s committed to Fresno State no matter who the next coach is. Offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau is the interim coach for the final four games of the season starting with Friday’s game against Air Force at Bulldog Stadium.
“I’m still 100 percent to Fresno,” Watson said. “I committed to Fresno because of the school, not a coach. I know it’s a business. The coaching change is not a big thing to me. ...
“I figure whatever the school thinks what’s best for the program, then go with it.”
Others who remain committed are safety Justin Wafer of Augustus Hawkins-Los Angeles; cornerback Demetrius Murray of Grayson High-Loganville, Ga.; offensive lineman Jesse Chamberlain of Burroughs High; quarterback Cameron Burston of Contra Costa College; safety Javon McInnis of Ranchview High-Irving, Texas; and linebacker Bruce Bivens of Davis-Houston.
I committed to Fresno State because of the school, not a coach. I know it’s a business.
Chaminade College Prep-Hollywood, Fla., linebacker Cody Watson on his commitment to Fresno State
Murray, who’ll make an official visit in January, got a call from Bulldogs defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward on Sunday letting him know about the coaching change, which caught him off-guard.
“They don’t have many seniors on the team,” Murray said. “I thought maybe they could work through it when they get another year with guys who have been there already.”
Murray said he remains committed, though he would be concerned by a total staff overhaul and how he’d fit in with a new staff.
Undecided but previously committed are linebacker Robert McWilliams of Coral Gables Senior High-Florida; cornerback Darrius Outland of University-Irvine; wide receiver Patrick Jeune of Morningside-Inglewood and athlete Mark Salazar of Rancho Bernardo-San Diego.
Cornerback Raheme Fuller of Boyd Anderson-Fort Lauderdale, Fla., de-committed from Fresno State on Oct 9 but said this week the Bulldogs remain in his top five.
“Sometimes change is good,” Fuller said. “Just need to make sure I’m making the right decision about my future. Just have to look over my options.”
It’s not about the (coaches) that are leaving because that could change every day.
Fresno State defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward
Ward, who is responsible for several of the early commits, primarily those from Georgia and Florida, said Tuesday he is in contact with recruits “every week.”
“You just have to tell them, ‘This is coaching’ and again, you don’t come to school for a coach,” Ward said. “You come to a school because you love the university and because you feel good in the community. It’s not about the (coaches) that are leaving because that could change every day. You recruit to a school, not to a coach.”
But didn’t those recruits commit to Fresno State because they assumed they’d be playing for Ward, who may not be retained?
“I’m not saying that either, but that’s the nature of the business,” he replied. “They have to understand that. This is about their lives and not mine.”
Fresno State 2017 recruits
- LB Bruce Bivens, Davis-Houston
- QB Cameron Burston, Contra Costa College
- OL Jesse Chamberlain, Burroughs
- WR Patrick Jeune, Morningside-Inglewood
- OLB Robert McWilliams, Coral Gables Senior High-Florida
- S Javon McInnis, Ranchview High-Irving Texas
- CB Demetrius Murray, Grayson High-Loganville, Ga.
- CB Darrius Outland, University-Irvine
- ATH Mark Salazar, Rancho Bernardo-San Diego
- LB Cody Watson, Chaminade College Prep-Hollywood, Fla.
- S Justin Wafer, Augustus Hawkins-Los Angeles