The new Fresno State quarterback is making all the headlines, without his name making a single headline.
“Fresno State quarterback is unknown factor to USC’s defense,” screamed the Los Angeles Times.
“How Trojans are preparing for Fresno State’s unknown quarterback,” typed away the Orange County Register.
Unknown quarterback would be Jorge Reyna, a ’10s version of the ’80s version of Jeff Tedford if we ever saw one. His duty is as simple as it is unreasonable: bear the single-most responsibility for deciding what the 2019 Fresno State football team can pull off as its next trick.
The show begins Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum, opposite the USC Trojans, who have all the name recognition but are just as nationally unranked.
“Just another game,” Reyna said, as everyone who remembers the 1992 Freedom Bowl shared a good laugh.
This is not just another game, and Reyna can’t be just another no-name.
From ‘Who’s that?’ to stars at Fresno State
Fresno State football rises and falls on the quarterback sword. Name the last time the Bulldogs were champions with an average quarterback.
Didn’t think so.
Fresno State does its best work when working with nameless quarterbacks.
To point to Derek Carr is to forget he’s the little-brother product of David Carr, who nobody knew about when Pat Hill picked him out and hosed him off to build a mid-major dynasty.
This is the school of the unnoticeable Paul Pinegar and undersized Billy Volek. Trent Dilfer made the backup all-league team in high school before he signed on. Marcus McMaryion was kicked to the freeway shoulder by Oregon State before taking the Bulldogs on a 22-6 ride to two bowl victories the last two seasons.
Jeff Tedford started it all
Fresno State is where no-name quarterbacks go to make a name for themselves. The biggest reason this Reyna Experiment just might work is because the lab is being run by the same former quarterback who started this legacy.
Tedford arrived at Bulldog Stadium as a junior college transfer from Downey. Reyna is a JC transfer who grew up in Downey.
Tedford was a 6-foot-nothing quarterback with more arm than his measurables suggested. Same goes for Reyna.
Tedford led the Bulldogs to a school-record 11-1 season as a senior. No pressure whatsoever, Kid.
“Coach Tedford has done a good job of keeping my mind settled and my emotions calmed,” Reyna said.
This is what Fresno State football is meant to be. Undersized players who overachieve. Unrecruited two-star players who overwhelm Big Schools with five-star performances.
Name the last time Fresno State landed a four-star recruit, and then name one of those guys who played like one while here.
We’re still waiting.
Bulldogs mirror their Valley roots
Fresno State has to do things the hard way, because that’s how life works in this dirt clod of a San Joaquin Valley. We’re a people who don’t get invited to the metropolitan gala. It’s a tough life, having to work our way out of the fields, but we’ve got the boots for it.
“I have an appreciation for the path JC guys take because I had to take the same path,” Tedford said. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for those guys, because they typically come out very hungry. They want to play at the next level.”
Maybe Reyna will win his first college start. Tedford did, beating Oregon 23-16. Maybe USC knocks him into tomorrow – Ohio State did to David Carr back in his debut.
Either way, give The Kid a minute to work this out, because when it comes to unknown quarterbacks at Fresno State, it almost always does.
Isn’t that right, Tedford?
“Fresno State gave me an opportunity, which I really appreciated,” Tedford said. “It worked out well.”