Fresno State needed a quarterback with experience for its future and it got both on Wednesday in Jake Haener, a transfer from Washington.
It is a dicey proposition going through a season with just three scholarship quarterbacks, which the Bulldogs are attempting to do this season. And with Jorge Reyna in his senior season, coach Jeff Tedford would have been going into next year with Ben Wooldridge, Steven Comstock and Jaden Casey, two redshirt sophomores to be and a true freshman.
The Bulldogs caught a big break when Haener became available. But now that he is enrolled and in practice, what is the plan while the 6-foot, 194-pound quarterback sits out this season under NCAA transfer rules?
On Wednesday, his first practice with the Bulldogs, Haener took some reps with the scout team, reading a play card and then running it for the No. 1 defense.
He made some nice throws, too, on the move and from the pocket.
“I don’t think you have a guy come in and stand around and watch the whole time,” Tedford said. “He’ll rotate in with the other guys that are doing some of the scout and some of the service periods.”
Haener will continue on that track, taking some scout reps. But the Bulldogs need to get him up to speed with their offense headed into the spring where he can compete with Wooldridge and Comstock with the highly regarded Casey on the way.
Fresno State also has two freshman walk-ons this season in Blaze McKibbin and Nate Lamb, the former Tulare Union High quarterback.
“We’re excited about having him,” quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf said. “With how late he has gotten here and missing fall camp we have to get him up to speed, but we’ve got some time to do that. It’s just another addition to that room that will really help us … really good high school player and he has had good training at Washington.”
Haener is not available for interviews; by team rule, Bulldogs players have to have played in a game to meet with the media.
He will be in the quarterback meetings during the week, but with the Bulldogs in game prep and investing their practice time in getting Reyna and the backups ready to go each week there will not be any reps in the offense.
“He’s a sharp guy, had good training like I said up at Washington and some of the things that we’re doing are going to be similar,” Langsdorf said.
“It’s going to be different terminology, but he’ll pick that up quick. Concept-wise, there’s probably a lot of carryover, so I don’t think that will be hard for him to make the transition into our system. But a lot of his work will be in those look teams and he’ll get enough reps that way to keep in shape and get a feel for the game.”
Haener will have to do a lot on his own, playing catchup.
“There’s going to be some study time, for sure, kind of reviewing back to fall camp and going through those installations that we started with,” Langsdorf said.
“There are some similarities like we talked about conceptually. But just getting the terminology down will be big for him. He has some time to do that and we can spend some time later in the week to be able to kind of catch him up. But a lot of that stuff will be soaking in what we’re talking about in the meetings and there will be a lot of off the field work for him, too, to get up to speed.”