Ronnie Rivers always dreamed of playing at Bulldog Stadium, just like Dad did in the early 1990s.
The Freedom High School-Oakley senior is poised to get that opportunity starting in 2017.
Rivers verbally committed to the Bulldogs on Monday, becoming the fourth player to do so under new coach Jeff Tedford.
Per NCAA rules, coaches are not allowed to comment on prospective student-athletes until a national letter of intent has been signed and validated. Signing day is Feb. 1.
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“Fresno State was a place I’ve grown up loving,” Rivers said. “When I received the offer I knew it was going to be hard to turn down.”
Ron Rivers become Fresno State’s career leading rusher while playing for the Bulldogs from 1991 to 1993, yielding only to Robbie Rouse in 2012. Rivers was named all-conference twice and All-America once, finishing with 3,473 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns, then played six seasons in the NFL.
Ronnie Rivers said he has “seen a good amount of my dad’s film,” with plenty of resemblance to go around.
“It’s funny because everyone who’s seen both of us play will say we run alike,” he said. “As long as I can remember, I’ve been around football because of my dad, so I would definitely say he was the one who inspired me to play.”
Ronnie Rivers, listed at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, is not done playing high school football. His Freedom team has a CIF State Division I-AA North Regional matchup against Saint Mary’s on Friday in Stockton.
Being a Bulldog meant a lot to Ron Rivers, who played for coach Jim Sweeney and says the staff was “unbelievable and taught me a lot about football and life.”
Rivers offered his son this: “Work hard, graduate, study your plays and stay humble.”
Ronnie Rivers vows to do exactly that when he joins the Bulldogs under Tedford, who within two weeks of his hiring added the Scout-rated three-star recruit to Fresno State’s list of targets.
“Coach Tedford is definitely the one who influenced my decision,” he said. “Even before he was named head coach, my dad used to talk about how great of a coach he is. My family was ecstatic, especially my dad, when I told them I wanted to commit to Fresno State.”
The younger Rivers said he was told by Tedford that the running backs will be a big part of the offense and that “I would be a great fit.” Rivers said he also mentioned “how I remind him of all the great backs he’s coached.”
Those backs included former Cal stars and NFL players Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Anderson, Jahvid Best – as well as Ron Rivers for two seasons at Fresno State.
Ronnie will be the third family member to play for the Bulldogs. Older sister Malia is a senior on the softball team.
Five de-commit – Cornerback Demetrius Murray of Grayson High-Loganville, Ga., safeties Javon McInnis of Ranchview High-Irving, Texas and Justin Wafer of Augustus Hawkins-Los Angeles, Chaminade College Prep-Hollywood, Fla. linebacker Cody Watson and Contra Costa College quarterback Cameron Burston have pulled back on commitments they made to Fresno State and the staff of former coach Tim DeRuyter.
Linebackers coach on board – Bert Watts has been added to Tedford’s staff as linebackers coach. Watts served as the defensive coordinator for four seasons at UC Davis and was a starting senior safety on Tedford’s first Cal team in 2002. Four other assistants and two administrative staff were named Tuesday.
Fresno State 2017 football recruits
- LB Bruce Bivens, Davis-Houston
- OL Jesse Chamberlain, Burroughs-Burbank
- TE Logun Javernick, Ventura College
- WR Patrick Jeune, Morningside-Inglewood
- OLB Robert McWilliams, Coral Gables Senior High-Florida
- CB Darrius Outland, University-Irvine
- RB Ronnie Rivers, Freedom-Oakley
- QB Jorge Reyna, West Los Angeles College
- ATH Mark Salazar, Rancho Bernardo-San Diego
- OL Clive Truschel, Clovis West