With Marteze Waller not taking any contact this spring for Fresno State and Malique Micenhemier out following shoulder surgery during the 2014 season, freshman running back Dejonte O’Neal from Bullard High has taken advantage of some opportunities to make some plays.
“He’s a really great kid,” Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter said. “He’s quick as a hiccup and has had a really great attitude since he has been here. He’s swimming a little bit just knowing every assignment, but because of our depth he’s getting a bunch of reps and he’s starting to get better every day. ... He definitely has that make-you-miss-in-a-phone-booth ability.”
O’Neal, who is 5-7 and about 160 pounds, joined the program in January and is catching up with everything there is to learn within the offense from the terminology to the plays to blitz pickup and pass protection, along with the dozens of things in between.
“He has turned some heads, but the thing about him is he has to know the entire offense. We can’t play a back just to hand him the ball,” DeRuyter said. “He has to protect, catch the ball out of the backfield and the most important thing is he has to know the assignments and not get somebody killed because he’s not doing the right thing. That’s not real fair to him right now because it’s so brand new to him, but we have to get him up to speed.”
Fixed in a snap
Redshirt freshman center Ben Simonds had been having some trouble with his snaps, the football sailing to the left or to the right of the quarterback depending on which way he was taking that first step.
But that problem appears to have been fixed. On Wednesday, offensive line coach Cameron Norcross had Simonds holding the football at the tip and snapping it end-over-end as opposed to holding it at the side and trying to spiral the ball back to the quarterback.
“It was improved at times,” Norcross said. “I tried to put his hand in a different position on the ball, kind of playing to the way he snaps the football. He likes turning his hand when he snaps the football and using his fingers, so we’re going to turn the ball around and see if he can do that.
“He was better today. Not great, not perfect, but better. Now it’s a matter of where his arm angle finishes instead of where his hand finishes. Before, if his hand chased where he was going that ball is way off target. Now it’s a pendulum swing of his arm.”
Recruit added to Class of ’15
Fresno State has a signed and validated a national letter of intent from wide out Kheenyon Woods (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) from Pomona High.
Woods, who also played as a defensive back, caught 12 passes for 287 yards and six touchdowns in his senior season and also rushed for 440 yards and five scores on just 34 plays. He was a first-team All-Miramonte League selection, helping lead the Red Devils to a CIF Mid-Valley Division championship.
The Bulldogs signed 14 players on Feb. 3 and had three players (quarterback Chason Virgil, safety Alan Wright and offensive lineman Jacob Vasquez) already on campus in the Class of 2015. The staff continues to look to add to the class, specifically at running back and on both lines.