Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter confirmed Monday that the Bulldogs’ quarterback competition will have a different look in fall camp than it did at the end of spring practices.
Ford Childress, who pushed redshirt freshman Chason Virgil in the spring but since has been out while dealing with a personal issue, will not return to the team for a senior season. And former Cal quarterback Zach Kline is expected in as a graduate transfer – he has for the past couple of weeks taken part in voluntary player-run practices.
Virgil and Kline will be joined by freshman Quentin Davis, who is enrolled in summer classes and has been working out with the team, and Christian Rossi from Clovis North High and Fresno City College.
Though Virgil emerged from the spring with a slight edge over Childress and Kline, and Davis and Rossi have yet to take a snap for the Bulldogs, DeRuyter said all four will get a look when camp starts. Players report Aug. 3, with the first practice Aug. 4.
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“Probably through the first scrimmage, we’ll rep all four quarterbacks and just see where everybody is at,” said DeRuyter, in advance of the Mountain West Media Days in Las Vegas. “Obviously, Chason, having been here the longest, will be in that first huddle. But the other guys will get reps and we’ll see how they earn those reps. The better you do, the more you earn.
When you have a guy that has talent and some experience, he’s going to hold his own.
Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter on Zach Kline
“The big thing for (Kline, Davis and Rossi) is to learn the terminology. Quentin is going to have the biggest leg up, having been here all summer, having gone through meetings, having gone through player-run practices. It’s good that Zach has been here for a couple of weeks and just talking to the guys around him, he picked up things extremely quickly, which makes sense. He’s a veteran player and played in a similar scheme. When you have a guy that has talent and some experience, he’s going to hold his own. We’ll see how he picks up the detail of the position, but there’s a lot of raw material there.”
Sophomore Kilton Anderson, who played in eight games with five starts last season, is out following shoulder surgery.
Virgil last season as a true freshman played in the first three games before suffering a broken collarbone in a loss to Utah, his first career start. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 61 yards with one touchdown and one interception in an opening victory over Abilene Christian, splitting time with Zack Greenlee, who has since transferred to UTEP. The following week, Virgil was 12 of 18 for 140 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a loss at Ole Miss, which led to the start against the Utes.
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Due to the injury, he was granted a medical hardship waiver and is one of the more experienced redshirt freshmen in the bowl subdivision – Virgil graduated early from West Mesquite High School in Texas and has been through a spring practice, a summer, a season in which he became the first true freshman quarterback to start a game for Fresno State since 1973, another spring and now another summer.
But with Kline, Davis and Rossi, he will have to deal with a deeper and more legitimate competition to start than Fresno State has had the past two seasons.
Greenlee went into last season with a tenuous hold on the job and completed only 47.4 percent of his passes (74 of 156) for 866 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The Bulldogs last season went 3-9 overall and 2-6 in conference play, finishing in a tie for fourth in the West Division.
“Chason knows he has to continue to compete,” DeRuyter said. “He should have an advantage through his experience here, but competition is a great thing. From the reports that we’re hearing from the receivers, he has stepped his game up now that Zach (Kline) and Quentin are starting to look good.”
Childress, who played in two games last season and was lost for the year after suffering an internal injury that required surgery in a loss at San Jose State, will not play his senior season. But DeRuyter said he could still return to the program.
“The coaching staff and Ford decided that he won’t be part of the team going forward, but we’ll look at a different role for him in the future,” he said.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Mountain West Media Days
Tuesday-Wednesday in Las Vegas
- Up first: Preseason order of finish and all-conference team announced at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Check fresnobee.com for updates.
- ’Dogs on stage: Coach Tim DeRuyter along with seniors Aaron Peck and Tyquwan Glass meet with the media at 4:05 p.m. Wednesday. Mountain Division teams are up first Tuesday.
- Next week: Players report for fall camp Aug. 3. The first of 29 practices is Aug. 4.
- Season opener: Sept. 3 at Nebraska