A Fresno State defense that ranked first in the Mountain West Conference in points allowed and total defense has a lot of valuable and productive pieces coming back for 2019, but it took two big hits on Friday when middle linebacker Jeff Allison and safety Mike Bell announced that they would leave school early to enter the NFL draft.
Allison, the Mountain West defensive player of the year and a two-time first-team all-conference selection, was in on 132 tackles in his junior season with 72 solo, 6.0 tackles for loss and two interceptions. He played in 14 games, though was in for only one series of a blowout victory at UNLV, coming out of the game as a precaution after taking a hit to a knee.
Bell, a second-team all-conference pick, was fourth on the team with 86 tackles including 53 solo. The fourth-year junior had 3.0 tackles for loss and three interceptions.
“We appreciate Mike and Jeff’s contributions to our program,” coach Jeff Tedford said, in a statement. “They were integral parts to our success this season. We wish them all the best and support them in their decision to enter the NFL Draft.”
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Both players announced their decisions on Twitter..
Allison: “Fresno State has been my home away from home for the past three years. It was an honor to go out and battle in Bulldog Stadium with my brothers and to rep The Valley. My dream was to play NCAA football at the highest level and I was able to accomplish that here at Fresno. Now the time has come for me to pursue another one of my childhood dreams. I will be forgoing my Senior year and will be entering the 2019 NFL Draft. I I want to say thank you to the Red Wave, The Valley, my Teammates, Coaches, Mentors and my Family for helping me reach this point. As a group, we were able to leave a lasting impression on the Red Wave, we made the Valley proud and became Champions. I am and will forever be #BulldogBornBulldogBred #GoDogs #9Reasonz”’
Bell: “First off I want to thank God for blessing me with a tremendous opportunity to change my life. These past 4 years at Fresno State has been some of the best times of my life. I’ve seen this program at its lowest of lows and highest of highs and I’m proud to be a part of every moment of it. I have taken this time to reflect on my life and what my future will uphold. After careful consideration with my family I have made my decision on forgoing my senior year and declaring for the NFL draft. It’s been a long time coming and I and just want to take time to thank everybody who has been a part of this process. From the old staff of Coach DeRuyter who took a chance eon me coming out of high school, now to Coach Tedford and his new staff that gave me the platform to show what I can do along with winning a Mountain West Championship for the city of Fresno that I’ve grown to love.
“Being my home away from home, I’ll never forget the relationships I’ve made with everybody there and all the love the city has shown me since day one. And to the Red Wave I will sincerely miss the fans who packed Bulldog stadium each weekend you guys are forever in my heart. Lastly, I would like to thank my teammates th have been so blessed to be around. Without you guys I don’t know if I would have made it. Every single one of you guys have made an impact on my life in one way or another. To my DB brothers we have created a brotherhood that would never bee broken, you guys have been the highlight of my years at Fresno. I’ll always be a bandit for life. Go Dogs!! #YoungWinnersMovement”
With Allison and Bell departing the Bulldogs lose all three starting linebackers with seniors George Helmuth and James Bailey and two of four starters in the secondary with senior cornerback Tank Kelly.
The Bulldogs do return two starters in the secondary with cornerback Jaron Bryant and safety Juju Hughes and three on the line with ends Mykal Walker and Kwami Jones and tackle Kevin Atkins as well as Keiti Iakopo and Ricky McCoy inside and Isaiah Johnson and Andrew Wright outside.
Walker got a draft evaluation from the NFL College Advisory Committee but has not announced a decision about his future.