Fresno State reserved a number of scholarships on signing day in February so coaches could continue to evaluate players and recruit to specific needs, then had a high strike rate with late additions to their recruiting class.
Cornerback Tyquwan Glass has started the past six games and leads the team with three interceptions and is fourth with 51 tackles. Wideout Josiah Blandin is tied for the team lead with five touchdown receptions.
Running back Dustin Garrison has provided depth in the backfield behind Marteze Waller, who is closing in on 3,000 career rushing yards.
Dec. 16 Signing period begins for midyear community college recruits
Nose guard Patrick Belony, who has four years to play three seasons, is on the scout team but has impressed in rookie ball scrimmages. Defensive end Nick Kristofors has played in all 10 games, providing badly needed depth on the defensive line.
Daquawn Brown, a transfer from Washington State, next season will join a strong group of cornerbacks, one of many positions coach Tim DeRuyter and his staff have tried to stabilize since inheriting dire numbers.
But with glaring roster holes to fill in the class of 2016 and lacking balance between classes at a number of positions, the Bulldogs are not going to wait around this recruiting season, targeting the midyear signing period for community college recruits more than in past years.
Those players can sign with schools starting Dec. 16, and there is a push to find some good fits and get the players on campus so they can participate in spring practices, get into their strength and conditioning program and receive a head start with the Bulldogs’ schemes.
I think we have a very good, young team coming back, but we have some positions, particularly on both sides on the lines, where we need some older guys. Coach Tim DeRuyter, on the Bulldogs’ push for midyear JC recruits
“It’s going to be critical for next year,” DeRuyter said. “I think we have a very good, young team coming back, but we have some positions, particularly on both sides on the lines, where we need some older guys. We’ve identified quite a few guys that we think have a chance to come in here and have some success, particularly if they come in January, so we have to do a good job showing them the vision and bringing guys in that want to compete for a job.”
Fresno State this season also has lost two inside linebackers from the class of 2014, Xavier Ulutu and Michael Lazarus, both of whom were dismissed following violations of athletic department policy. One and perhaps two inside linebackers likely are high on the shopping list. The Bulldogs next season will return one senior in Jeff Camilli, a junior in Robert Stanley and a sophomore in Nela Otukolo, with sophomore walk-on George Helmuth also in that mix.
The offensive line, an area Fresno State has been trying to increase to the 17 on its roster blueprint ( the Bulldogs inherited only nine), lost three players from the class of 2014 in tackle Bobby Johnson and guards Ben Simonds and Art Gomez. Johnson was suspended indefinitely, then left the team, and Simonds and Gomez also quit.
That class was the first in which the Bulldogs were able to build up its offensive-line group with high school prospects. They signed five that year, but only two remain in starting left guard Aaron Mitchell and backup guard Jacob Hicks.
Fresno State under DeRuyter has not targeted many midyear community college recruits, but given their needs, there likely will be some in the 2016 recruiting class while the Bulldogs still retain some scholarships for late additions who can make an impact in the two-deep.
“There’s clearly been more of an emphasis this year, seeing some holes that we have, and we know that when you can get a guy in January, his chances of success go up dramatically,” DeRuyter said. “We’ve identified quite a few of those guys that we think can help us, and we’re going to go attack the recruiting cycle with as much vigor as we have ever.”
The Bulldogs will host community college prospects who can enroll in the spring semester on official visits on the first two December weekends leading up to the signing period, and they have three recruiting weekends in January.
We’re not going to settle for a third- or fourth-best guy. There are a lot of kids that want to come – that’s the good thing.
Defensive coordinator Nick Toth
“Whatever the results are, I like where our defense is heading as a unit,defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. “I think that the young leadership and playmakers that we have are going to be really solid. The guys that we bring in are going to fit that mold. No matter how big or how good of a player they are, they are going to have to fit that mold.
“We’re going to bring in guys midyear that fit us, and if we don’t get them, we’re not going to settle for a third- or fourth-best guy. There are a lot of kids that want to come – that’s the good thing. They understand right now that we are young and there’s a need for a couple of guys to be dropped in.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. BYU
- Saturday: Noon at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah
- Records: Bulldogs 3-7; Cougars 7-3
- TV: BYUTV (Comcast 232)
- Webcast: ESPN3
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Series: Bulldogs lead 5-4