Fresno State continues to build up a roster that seven months ago was in dire need of repair, the latest add coming Thursday in JC strong safety Kesomi Mafi.
Mafi, at 5-11, 205 pounds, played last season at Laney. He was in helmet and shorts for practice, going through the first day of the NCAA acclimatization period while the rest of the team was in full pads.
Still he went through some drills and bears watching going forward. He has the potential to add a high degree of physicality to the secondary and can make plays.
“I can’t wait until he gets his pads on and gets in the mix here,” first-year coach Jeff Tedford said. “He’s a really good player and he’s a physical guy. He was a great player on tape in junior college. He was player of the year there. We’re really excited to see what he can do.”
Mafi has two years to play two seasons for the Bulldogs.
Hardaway update – Senior wideout Delvon Hardaway, who suffered a knee injury last week and has been ruled out for the season, is scheduled for surgery Tuesday.
Hardaway said that he will petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility after missing this and most of his sophomore year with knee injuries.
Competition at end – Defensive end Kwami Jones, who joined the team on the first day of camp, has worked his way into the mix in a competitive position group.
Jones (San Mateo JC) got reps in team periods with the No. 1 and No. 2 defenses.
“When he got here he wasn’t in great shape so he has been staying after practice and getting himself in shape and you can tell the more he does that he can play fast,” Tedford said. “He has a lot of ability, there’s no doubt. He has quickness. He has speed. He has power. Now that he’s getting in shape he’s showing a lot more.
“Kwami is doing a good job, him and Emeka (Ndoh) both, the new guys at the ends there, have continued to get better each and every day. When they get used to the speed of the game and what they’re doing and when they can play fast they’re good players.”
No longer in a corner – In rebuilding the roster, cornerback had for a few years been a trouble spot.
In the spring, Juju Hughes and Jaron Bryant were solid but lacked experience, Tank Kelly took a big forward step and JC transfer Matt Boateng was making some headway.
But the position group and the secondary overall have been transformed with the additions of graduate transfer Johnny Johnson and freshmen Wylan Free, Chris Gaston and Arron Mosby. Chris Coleman is in that group as well, though out now with a broken foot.
Considering the late start to recruiting for Tedford (who was hired in November) and his staff – they cut loose the players that were committed to Fresno State and basically started over – cornerback and safety have improved significantly.
When evaluating players, defensive backs coach J.D. Williams said he had one thing on top of his checklist:
“It’s kind of an attitude,” he said. “You see a kid compete on film and you start to evaluate him. Sure, you like the physical traits. Everybody wants them big. But you kind of look for certain things. Is he a competitor? How is he when things are going great? How is he when things are not going great? Most of all, is he tough mentally, because playing that position you know things can happen and you have to be able to come back.
“Those are things I evaluate … and you have to be able to run.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada