Fresno State Football

Freshmen and transfers making a quick impression on Fresno State football practice field

New players impress at Bulldogs preseason camp

The Fresno State Bulldog football team held its first pre-season training camp Friday, with new players impressing head coach Jeff Tedford.
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The Fresno State Bulldog football team held its first pre-season training camp Friday, with new players impressing head coach Jeff Tedford.

Fresno State on Saturday went through its second fall camp football practice, again in helmets and shorts, and two days in a few things are very apparent.

One, coach Jeff Tedford and his staff recruited some freshmen and junior college players who walked in the door physically ready to contribute.

Two, though losing a ton of production at the receiver positions, the Bulldogs will have more speed outside than they did a year ago when quarterback Marcus McMaryion and Jorge Reyna had 38 pass plays of 25 or more yards, tied for third in the Mountain West.

Three things from practice …

Right guard ready

The first two days of practice, true freshman Bula Schmidt has worked with the No. 2 offense at right guard and already is competing for a rotation spot.

“He’s really fundamentally sound, does a really good job,” Tedford said. “You can tell that he has been coached really well at the high school level. But he’s very strong, one of the strongest freshmen we’ve had come in here, and he’s very smart.

“Some guys, whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally, sometimes they’ll come in and mentally they have it but maybe physically they’re not strong enough or vice versa. It seems like he has all three of those that really prepare him to compete for us to contribute early.”

Schmidt went to high school in Seattle, but is from Wahiawa, Hawaii, the same hometown as Bulldogs left tackle Netane Muti.

Backfield intrigue

The Bulldogs are getting to look at some options in the backfield. One, Zion Echols, who started his college career at Cal, is working there now. But Fresno State is expecting to use him in a variety of ways.

“He’s a multi guy,” Tedford said. “He has some background where he has played running back. He has some background where he has played receiver.

“But you have to start somewhere to learn and there’s really more learning at the running back spot and then you can move him out to get him into route concepts from there.”

Running back Peyton Dixon is another freshman off to a solid start.

“He’s physical enough, he’s put together well enough to do some things and he has shown some nice vision and things like that,” Tedford said. “He’s a good all-around back as far as catching the football. But again, we’re only in helmets, so we’ll see.”

Watch Fresno State wide receiver Derrion Grim in action during team practice Friday morning, March 15, 2019 in Fresno

Speed thrills

On the first play of a one-on-one period, senior Derrion Grim flew right by the cornerback in coverage on a shot down the field and caught the football a good 5 yards clear for an easy touchdown.

It was not the last play made by a group that is the focus of some attention this fall, given the losses of KeeSean Johnson, Jamire Jordan and Michiah Quick.

JC transfer Keric Wheatfall has impressed at the start of camp, as have true freshmen Jamal Glaspie, Josh Kelly and Jalen Cropper.

Sophomore Patrick Elima-Jeune and freshman Rodney Wright III, who came in last spring as a grayshirt, also made speed plays in that one-on-one period.

The Bulldogs won’t have a shortage of players who can blow the top off a coverage.

“Going into this fall camp there was a lot of stuff going on, especially about me, if I can replace KeeSean, if so-and-so can replace Jamire, because there are a lot of guys that left.” said Grim, the leading returning receiver in the group with all of 20 receptions.

“We’re not going to be exactly like them. We’re going to be a little different. But we’re striving to be better than the last group. We’re trying to do better each and every year.”

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada