Fresno State football had an uneventful first Wednesday in February, more popularly known as National Signing Day, and coach Jeff Tedford was all for that.
The Bulldogs signed one player Wednesday for the 2018 recruiting class, adding defensive back Shawn Dourseau from Citrus Hill-Perris to a group of 14 players signed in December in the first early signing period for football and players who were recruited last spring or already in the program who were put on scholarship.
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That group included quarterback Marcus McMaryion and cornerback Johnny Johnson, graduate transfers from Oregon State and UCLA.
With the heavy lifting already done, Tedford and his staff did not have to worry about schools coming in the days or hours before signing day to hijack players who had made oral commitments, an annual anxiety for Group of Five programs.
Tuesday night, Tedford was at the Bulldogs men’s basketball game.
“You would never have caught me at a basketball game on the night before signing day ever before,” he said. “But since we only had one guy and were pretty locked in on him, I felt really confident about that.
“Any other year, I would have been on the phone all night long with every kid.”
The other plus to the early signing period is that it saved Fresno State some money.
With the majority of the class signed in December, the Bulldogs did not host many recruits on official visits in January and Tedford and the assistant coaches were not traveling the width and length of the state making home visits – the NCAA allows six off-campus contacts or home visits, one by the head coach.
“It saved us money because usually in recruiting you have to continue to recruit all the way through January because you have to have your Plan B and Plan C guys that you’re bringing in on official visits,” Tedford said.
“What we’ve done through January is we’ve taken the opportunity to go out and start for next year, but we haven’t incurred the cost of bringing a bunch of players in here on official visits with their families – hotels, food, the whole bit that goes into it. That’s a big chunk of money in recruiting, the travel to get here. We were able to get our stuff done within two recruiting weekends, where in the past you’re having probably six recruiting weekends, at least. So it saved us a bunch of money that way.”
Tedford, like every coach in the country, liked his program’s recruiting haul.
In December, the Bulldogs addressed a need along the defensive line by signing interior linemen Matt Kjeldgaard (6-3, 275) from Oakdale, Leonard Payne (6-3, 260) from Pius X-Downey and Matt Lawson (6-0, 310) from Colony-Ontario. Also added was defensive end Isaiah Johnson (6-3, 215) from Downey-Modesto.
The receiver positions also were a target, the Bulldogs signing Clovis West wideouts Rodney Wright III (5-10, 195) and Ricardo Arias (6-2, 225) and Tulare Union’s Emoryie Edwards (6-0, 195).
Wright is the son of Rodney Wright, who ranks third on Fresno State’s career receptions list.
The early signees also included quarterbacks Steven Comstock (6-2, 185) from Northview-Glendora and Ben Wooldridge (6-3, 195) from Foothill-Pleasanton, offensive linemen Clive Truschel (6-3, 295) from Clovis West, Elijah Carson (6-8, 290) from Morse-San Diego and Nick Abbs (6-6, 290) from Fresno City College, defensive back Deshawn Ruffin (5-10, 175) from Sunnyside and linebacker Sherwin King (6-0, 205) from Sunnyside.
The Bulldogs needed to take two quarterbacks in this recruiting class, given the numbers in the position group. McMaryion will be entering his senior season and with Chason Virgil transferring to Southeastern Louisiana, Jorge Reyna is the only other scholarship quarterback in the program.
“Really excited about these two guys,” Tedford said. “We had the chance to watch them. They came to our camp, had a chance to watch them up close. We’d obviously seen them on tape before, but we had a chance to watch them throw and evaluate their demeanor, how they compete, their leadership qualities, all that goes into the evaluation of a position like quarterback.
“Ben Wooldridge is more the typical pro-style passer – tall, can throw the football, great arm, but still has enough athletic ability and escape dimension to make things happen. Comstock is a guy who has a wrestling background (third in the state in 2017 at 170 pounds). Tougher than nails. He’s very, very fast, athletic, cut, throws a great ball. I was able to go watch him play and he’s just very physical. A lot of leadership qualities about both of these guys.”
Dourseau, the add on Wednesday, was in on 75 tackles including one tackle for loss as a senior and had 13 interceptions.
“He’s a ball hawk,” Tedford said. “Very physical, comes up and tackles really well, great feet. He’s a strong competitor, comes from a background of a successful team so he’s used to winning. We’re really excited about him.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada