Focus for Fresno State’s football coaching staff in a bye week has been on California, which is a bit of a switch.
The first part of the week, Monday and Tuesday, assistants hit recruiting roads that start on Highway 99, heading north and south. They worked their recruiting areas – inside linebackers coach Nick Toth in south Los Angeles and outside linebackers coach Jordan Peterson in north L.A., with offensive-line coach Mark Weber in the Inland Empire and tight ends coach Joe Bernardi on the Central Coast.
We want to re-energize and refocus the state of California and make sure our brand and our logo is out there and people see us.
Fresno State interim coach Eric Kiesau
Receivers coach Burl Toler III was in the Bay Area, running backs coach Dave Ungerer elsewhere in Northern California and defensive-line coach Pete Germano out in the Valley.
On Thursday night, the Bulldogs had coaches on the sidelines at the seven CIF Central Section playoff games in and around Fresno.
“We want to re-energize and refocus the state of California and make sure our brand and our logo is out there and people see us,” offensive coordinator/interim coach Eric Kiesau said. “That was the biggest thought there. Fresno State is important to people, and I just want to get out and let people know we want to refocus our energies on California.”
With Jeff Tedford to be introduced as the new head coach Friday, it is a prescient plan.
When he coached at Cal, Tedford hit a lot of home runs in recruiting –Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson, Aaron Rodgers. But he also was spot-on with evaluations of lightly recruited prospects. He had 16 players selected in the NFL draft that were rated two- or three-star prospects coming out of high school.
The majority of those were from California.
Fresno State has 102 scholarship and non-scholarship players on its roster, 74 of them from California. Texas also is well represented with 13 players.
“Anywhere and everywhere,” Kiesau said, regarding the recruiting strategy this week. “There are a couple of games (Thursday) we double up, have two coaches there. We want to make sure we’re visible, make sure we’re out there watching all the players.
“If there’s anyone here in the Valley we want to get on – and we’ve been on a lot of those kids anyway – but they’ll see our logo and know we’re not backing down and we’re still going strong with Fresno State out there.”
They have checked in with players they have been recruiting while also making contact and evaluating players that might be a good fit if the new coach wants to run a 4-3 defense instead of a 3-4, more of a pro-style offense or a spread.
Tedford at Cal played a 3-4, but there is crossover potential on those new lists. A nose guard in a 3-4 could be a 1-technique in a 4-3, defensive ends in a 3-4 could transition inside to a 3-technique, a joker outside linebacker in a 3-4 could play end, rush off the edge in a 4-3.
And they have expanded significantly over the past two weeks.
How many more players have been added?
“A bunch,” director of player personnel Jimmy Morimoto said. “Off the top of my head, it has to be a couple hundred.”
The Bulldogs have a full allotment of 25 scholarships to offer in their 2017 recruiting class. Last year, they signed five midyear junior college transfers and 16 players on national letter of intent signing day.
Tedford will be getting a late start, but will be well ahead of where former coach Tim DeRuyter was in putting together this first recruiting class. DeRuyter was hired in December and had his staff together and on the road the first week in January, less than one month before national letter of intent signing day.
The Bulldogs landed some productive players in that class in wideout Aaron Peck, cornerback Jamal Ellis and running back Marteze Waller, and added offensive lineman Alex Fifita in the fall. But they signed only 15 on the first Wednesday in February and following up two high-attrition classes in 2010 and 2011, that led in part to some of the depth issues that have hurt Fresno State the past three seasons.
But given the timing and advance work, Fresno State has an opportunity to produce more than a typical transitional recruiting class – often short on numbers and in terms of filling needs.
Tedford will walk in the door with a dossier filled with potential targets waiting.
“We revisit some guys that may not have fit our system and put them into those lists of potential prospects for whatever it might be, a 4-3, a 3-4, spread or a pro-style offense,” said Morimoto, who started to recast the Bulldogs’ recruiting lists by position shortly after DeRuyter was let go Oct. 23 after a loss at Utah State left the Bulldogs 1-7 and 4-16 over their past 20 games.
“You gather the lists and get them ready. Positions and body types, and we’ll give those lists to the new coach.”
The Bulldogs have 11 confirmed commitments and this season a full class of 25 scholarships available. One spot goes to offensive lineman Quirero Woodley, who originally signed with the Bulldogs a year ago.
“We have a good list, and we’re still banging away on that list,” Kiesau said. “We’re trying to build that list even stronger in the state of California and here in the Valley to help that list get even stronger as we make that last push.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. HAWAII
- Nov. 19: 4 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 1-9, 0-6; Rainbow Warriors 4-6, 3-3
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: Hawaii, blown out 55-0 last week at San Diego State, hosts No. 24 Boise State at 4 p.m. Saturday while Fresno State is on a bye.