John McCartan, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end from Santa Margarita High, made a verbal commitment this week to Fresno State, the Bulldogs scooping him up just as he was starting to draw more interest from a few Power 5 conference programs.
“I just thought, ‘Nothing to wait for. I want to focus on my high school season,’ ” McCartan said. “I loved everything – the coaching staff, everything about it. I had a couple of other offers, but in the end I just really loved the Bulldogs.
“They definitely were the most consistent – (tight ends coach Scott Thompson) is really the first coach I actually talked to. That was a key. We built a great relationship.”
He is a willing blocker and a tough, physical kid. He’s not afraid to get his nose in there and hit someone.
Greg Biggins, national recruiting analyst for scout.com
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So what did Fresno State get in McCartan?
The interest from the Power 5 is a bit of a tip off, but to Santa Margarita coach Rich Fisher the tight end is a steal for the Bulldogs. One of his biggest assets: his upside.
“He’s a big kid, really a late bloomer,” Fisher said. “He grew almost five inches in our program in the last year. He went from a 6-foot, 200-pound kid to a 6-5, 230-pound kid. That doesn’t happen very often. He’s a completely different player. In practice, he’s just total domination. He’s so big and guys have a hard time, especially at this level, covering a tight end that size.
“That’s the buzz around him – most people have him on their lists as a 6-foot kid and now all of a sudden he’s 6-5, so credit to Fresno State for seeing it and identifying it, getting on him early and really recruiting him hard. He’s an unbelievable get for Fresno State. He has Pac-12 talent in my opinion and he’s only getting better.”
The Fresno State staff is not allowed by NCAA rule to comment on prospective student-athletes until a national letter of intent is signed and validated, but McCartan is a good fit in an offense being installed this season by first-year coach Jeff Tedford and offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer.
Fresno State tight ends in 2016: Kyle Riddering, 7 receptions for 33 yards; Chad Olsen, 6 for 85; Jared Rice, 4 for 6 with 2 TDs
“McCartan has a nice frame,” said Greg Biggins, a national recruiting analyst for scout.com. “Athletically, he needs to get bigger and stronger, but he has the frame to do so. He is a willing blocker and a tough, physical kid. He’s not afraid to get his nose in there and hit someone.
“He has pretty solid hands. I can see him as a pretty reliable pass catcher with the ability to be a nice little safety valve, a security blanket for a quarterback. Overall, a pretty solid kid. I like him.”
That combination and the versatility that comes with it are key to the Bulldogs, who last season had 17 receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns from the position group.
“What’s great is you can get into personnel sets that are run-heavy sets with an in-line tight end, with that physical body, and then at the same time be able to throw the football and utilize him throwing the football,” Fisher said.
What’s great is you can get into personnel sets that are run-heavy sets with an in-line tight end, with that physical body, and then at the same time be able to throw the football and utilize him throwing the football. It creates a nice dynamic for your football team.
Santa Margarita High coach Rich Fisher
“It creates a nice dynamic for your football team, because everything becomes so personnel-oriented. It’s nice to have a guy that can set the edge on the outside and block defensive ends and at the same time, he’s probably more athletic than most outside linebackers that are covering him and he can stretch the field. He’s a tremendous weapon in the passing game, but he’s physical in the running game, which is what you want.”
To McCartan, getting to block is a bonus.
“Not many people say they love the blocking aspect, but to me that’s really appealing, just getting after it,” McCartan said. “Obviously, I love catching the ball, too, so it works out perfectly.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State 2018 commitments
Players who have made verbal pledges to the Fresno State football team for recruiting Class of 2018:
Shamar Whestone, Upland
Steven Comstock, Northview-Covina
Emoryie Edwards, Tulare
Ben Wooldridge, Foothill-Pleasanton
John McCartan, Santa Margarita