Fresno State Football

Who made Fresno State’s all-decade football team? Fresno Bee picks the best Bulldogs

Fresno State since 2010 has made two coaching changes, both leading to Mountain West Conference championships.

There are three titles in all, and four trips to the conference championship game, as well as a long line of transcendent players who rewrote record books, won a lot of football games and pushed the Bulldogs program forward and past a lot of problems.

The Bulldogs’ all-time leading passer, rusher and receiver all played in the past 10 football seasons, along with the first unanimous All-American in the program’s football history.

As Fresno State pushes toward what could be another shot at a conference title this season, The Bee presents its choices for an all-decade Bulldogs team.

QUARTERBACK

First team

Derek Carr

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Fresno State president Dr. Joseph Castro, left, poses with Derek Carr and Carr’s retired No. 4 jersey during halftime in the Bulldogs’ season-opening victory over Incarnate Word on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Bulldog Stadium ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

Carr was a two-time offensive player of the year in the Mountain West Conference, two-time All-American and as a senior in 2013 won the Sammy Baugh Award. Carr is one of just 19 quarterbacks in history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and 100 touchdowns, finishing with 12,842 yards and 113 TDs, and his 113 to 24 touchdown-to-interception ratio ranks second all-time among quarterbacks with 100 or more TD passes. When the Bulldogs switched to an up-tempo spread offense in 2012, Carr and the offense took off with a corps of receivers led by Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper – 16 of Carr’s 20 career 300-yard games came in his last two seasons, as did all 11 of his 400-yard games and all three of his 500-yard games.

Second team

Marcus McMaryion

McMaryion could not have come along at a better time for a program struggling through an extended run of poor quarterback evaluation and recruiting that started well before Carr fired the last pass of his record-setting career. In his starts, McMaryon passed for 6,120 yards and 32 touchdowns and the Bulldogs went 21-4 with two division titles, one conference championship and two bowl victories.

Honorable mention

Ryan Colburn (2010)

RUNNING BACK

First team

Robbie Rouse

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Fresno State running back Robbie Rouse, left, and quarterback Derek Carr were all smiles during a news conference ahead of the 2012 Hawaii Bowl. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Rouse had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and when he set a school-record for career rushing yards with 4,647, he did it in style. In the third game of his senior season, against Colorado at Bulldog Stadium, Rouse bolted 94 yards for a touchdown to surpass Ron Rivers’ mark of 3,473 yards. When churning out 1,490 rushing yards as a senior in 2012, Rouse also caught 63 passes and ranked third in the Mountain West in rushing, tied for fourth in passing and 10th in total offense. His durability was a huge asset, taking 85.8% (610 of 711) of the rushing plays by backs his final two seasons.

Second team

Marteze Waller

Waller was one of the few bright spots for the Bulldogs through some rough seasons and finished his career ranked fourth on the Bulldogs’ all-time rushing list with 3,108 yards. It was tough sledding most of the way. Waller rushed for 1,368 yards as a junior in 2014 and 920 yards as a senior in 2015 when the Bulldogs ranked sixth and 11th in the Mountain West in rushing offense and went 6-8 and then 3-9.

Honorable mention

Ronnie Rivers (2017-present)

WIDEOUT

First team

Davante Adams

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Former Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams, right, is greeted by fans after a victory at San Diego State in 2013. Adams caught a school-record 233 passes in two seasons, a mark that the Bulldogs’ KeeSean Johnson could break against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Johnson is eight receptions away. Gregory Bull ASSOCIATED PRESS

Adams in just two seasons became the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving touchdowns and was third (now fourth) in receiving yards, catching 233 passes with 38 touchdowns and 3,030 yards. The Mountain West simply had no answers for Adams, who obliterated coverages and could take a short pass a long way or a long pass into the end zone. He had at least one touchdown in 11 consecutive games and 20 of 21 games to end his career. Adams was a two-time all-conference and All-American selection and in 2013 won the Paul Warfield Award as the best receiver in the nation.

Second team

KeeSean Johnson

It was a four-year grind for Johnson, who caught at least one pass in 51 games in a row and finished his career as the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in receptions (275) and receiving yards (3,463). In his first two seasons he worked with five starting quarterbacks. As a sophomore in 2016 he caught 66 passes for 773 yards for a 1-11 team that had the lowest passing efficiency rating in the Mountain West.

Honorable mention

Isaiah Burse (2010-13), Josh Harper (2011-14), Jalen Saunders (2010-11), Rashad Evans (2008, 2010-12), Jamire Jordan (2015-18), Da’Mari Scott (2013-17).

TIGHT END

First team

Jared Rice

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Fresno State tight end Jared Rice (16) pulls in a pass in the 2017 Mountain West Conference championship game. Rice started to emerge as a threat in the back-to-back games against Boise State that season then had a breakout year in 2018 that has earned national notice. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Rice is a two-time first-team all-conference selection and broke school single-season records for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end that had been held by Bear Pascoe. He also was fourth in the nation among tight ends in receptions and sixth in receiving yards. Of those 55 receptions, 31 went for a first down and three were touchdowns. With 81 career receptions entering the 2019 season, Rice had almost as many as all of the Bulldogs’ tight ends combined that played from 2010 to ‘15 before he joined the program.

Second team

Marcel Jensen

The tight end position didn’t get a ton of play in 2012 and ’13, but Jensen did manage to catch 46 passes for 692 yards and seven touchdowns in those two seasons. His biggest play, though, came at the end of regulation in a 35-28 overtime victory at San Diego State, blocking a 37-yard field goal attempt as time expired and giving the Bulldogs a chance to run their record to 7-0.

Honorable mention

Chad Olsen (2014-16), Kyle Riddering (2015-18)

OFFENSIVE LINE

First team

Austin Wentworth

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Fresno State teammates congratulate offensive lineman Austin Wentworth after he scored a touchdown on a trick play against Cal Poly in a Sept. 7, 2013, game. Undrafted out of college, he made the roster of the Minnesota Vikings but will call it a career after just one season because of complications from blood clots in his legs. MARK CROSSE THE FRESNO BEE.

In his sophomore season in 2011, Wentworth was one of two Bulldogs offensive linemen to start every game, playing right tackle and right guard. The following year, with the Bulldogs installing a spread offense, Wentworth was moved to left tackle and twice was a first-team all-conference selection. In 2013 the Bulldogs allowed only 11 sacks in 13 games, tied for sixth in the nation. The ball was out quick, but Fresno State that season put the ball in the air 675 times, or 246 more than any of the teams ranked ahead of it.

Second team

Cody Wichmann

Wichmann found a home eight games into his sophomore season when he moved to right guard from right tackle and ended up starting 32 games in a row there, 50 overall, and twice earned all-conference honors (second team in 2014, honorable mention in ‘13). Over the last three years of his career, the Bulldogs averaged of 36.4 points and 474.8 yards per game.

Honorable mention

Bryce Harris (2008-11), Christian Cronk (2016-18), Micah St. Andrew (2015-18), Aaron Mitchell (2014-17), Netane Muti (2017-present), Kenny Wiggins (2007-10)

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

First team

Tyeler Davison

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Fresno State defensive lineman Tyeler Davison attempts to take down Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson in the second quarter of the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24, 2014, in Honolulu. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Davison was a three-time all-conference selection, earning first-team honors as a sophomore and a senior in 2012 and ‘14 and was second team as a junior in 2013. He played some at defensive end early in his senior season, but his quickness off the ball and power made him a force as a nose tackle in the Mountain West. He racked up 61 total tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks that season, all career-highs, and had the most sacks by an interior lineman at Fresno State since Alan Harper had 12.0 in 2001.

Second team

Logan Harrell

Back in the Western Athletic Conference days, Harrell twice was first-team all-conference. In his senior year, 2011, he had a hugely productive season racking up 71 tackles including 17.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. Fresno State has not had an interior defensive lineman with more tackles since, and no player with more tackles for loss in a season.

Honorable mention

Malik Forrester (2016-17)

DEFENSIVE END

First team

Mykal Walker

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Fresno State defensive end Mykal Walker, right, evades a defender before dashing into the end zone for an interception return for a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 49-27 victory over the Toledo Rockets at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. CRAIG KOHLRUSS Fresno Bee file

Walker is playing middle linebacker this season, but a year ago had one of the most productive seasons ever for a Bulldogs defensive end. Walker led all defensive linemen in the Mountain West with 6.1 tackles per game and led Fresno State with 14.0 tackles for loss including 4.5 sacks and was a first-team all-conference selection. He also had six pass breakups, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, blocked two kicks, returned an interception for a touchdown and was at his best in the MW title game with a then-career-high 12 tackles.

Second team

Tobenna Okeke and Robert Stanley

Okeke and Stanley were linebackers before moving to defensive end for their senior seasons in 2017 and were key pieces to the Bulldogs’ turnaround under Tedford and defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer. Stanley led the Bulldogs with 11.5 tackles for loss and Okeke was second with 11.0, Okeke led the Bulldogs with 6.0 sacks and tied for second with 5.0 and the Bulldogs were second in the conference in scoring and total defense.

Honorable mention

Chris Carter (2007-10), Nikko Motta (2009-13)

INSIDE LINEBACKER

First team

Jeff Allison

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Outgoing Fresno State linebacker Jeff Allison received quite the endorsement going into next week’s NFL Draft after longtime rapper Luther “Luke” Campbell of 2 Live Crew called him on social media the “best middle linebacker in this year’s NFL Draft.” Gary Kazanjian AP

Allison, who bypassed his senior season for a shot at the NFL, was tough to block and last season the defensive player of the year in the Mountain West Conference. He racked up 132 total tackles in 2018 and 126 in ‘17 and in just three seasons including two as a starter he hit No. 10 on the Bulldogs’ all-time tackles list with 279. In those two seasons the Bulldogs allowed just 14.1 and 17.9 points per game and for 25 consecutive games held opponents to less than 30 points, which was the longest streak in the nation.

Second team

Travis Brown

Was a first- or second-team all-conference selection from 2010 to ‘12 when one of the Bulldogs’ most productive players. Brown, the son of former Fresno State defensive coordinator Dan Brown, had a career-high 12 tackles in his final game at Bulldog Stadium to help Fresno State win its first conference title in 13 seasons.

Honorable mention

Ben Jacobs (2007-10), George Helmuth (2015-18), Karl Mickelsen (2011-14), Kyrie Wilson (2012-15)

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

First team

Ejiro Ederaine

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Fresno State’s Ejiro Ederaine takes down Nevada’s Don Jackson during the second half of the teams’ Nov. 5, 2015, game at Bulldog Stadium. Ederaine enters his career finale against Colorado State needing three tackles for loss to become the Mountain West Conference career leader. GARY KAZANJIAN AP

For three seasons Ederaine was as tough to block coming off the edge as any player in the nation and finished his career with 45.5 career tackles for loss, ranking second in Mountain West history. Ederaine and Alan Harper (1998-2001) are the only players in school history to record 15.0 or more tackles for loss in more than one season. The lightly recruited Ederaine started the final 36 games of his career and in 2013 returned a fumble 78 yards for a touchdown in an overtime victory at San Diego State, the Bulldogs’ seventh win in a row in a 10-0 start to the season.

Second team

Donavon Lewis

Lewis made the switch to outside linebacker from defensive end when the Bulldogs went to a 3-4 and started all 26 games the next two seasons as the Bulldogs won Mountain West titles in 2012 and ‘13. He started 40 games in a row and 42 games overall, his best season as a senior, racking up 56 total tackles including 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks.

Honorable mention

James Bailey (2015-18), Tristan Okpalaugo (2011-12)

SAFETY

First team

Phillip Thomas

Thomas returned from a gruesome leg injury before his junior season and in 2012 became the first unanimous All-American in school history, earning first-team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation. Thomas in his senior season in 2012 had eight interceptions, the most in the nation and a Mountain West record, and was one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the top defensive back in college football.

Second team

Derron Smith

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Fresno State safety Derron Smith sacks Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey late in Saturday’s game at Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs’ 28-21 victory sent them back to the Mountain West Championship game for a second straight season. THE FRESNO BEE

Smith, like Thomas, came back from a season-ending injury and as a sophomore in 2012 helped transform the Bulldogs defense: 22nd in the nation in total defense, one season after ranking 100th. Smith had six interceptions, tied for fifth in the nation, and ended up a first-team all-conference selection in 2012, ‘13 and ‘14.

Honorable mention

Charles Washington (2012-15), Juju Hughes (2016-present), Stratton Brown (2014-16), Mike Bell (2016-18)

CORNERBACK

First team

L.J. Jones

Jones had his senior season in 2013 cut short after seven games due to a knee injury at San Diego State, but to that point had performed at a consistently high level in his third season as a starter. Jones in 35 career starts was credited with 39 passes defended including six interceptions. He had 14 and was tied for fourth in the Mountain West as a junior when an honorable mention all-conference selection. Before the injury cut short his senior season, he had nine passes defended with two interceptions and in just six full games was the only Bulldogs player with a sack, fumble recovery and interception.

Second team

Jaron Bryant

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Fresno State cornerback Jaron Bryant, left, breaks up a pass intended for San Jose State receiver JaQuan Blackwell, center, in the Bulldogs’ 31-13 victory over the Spartans Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

Bryant didn’t get tested much last season, his second starting in the Bulldogs secondary. But he still managed to rank fourth in the Mountain West in passes defended with 0.93 per game. As a sophomore in 2017, Bryant led the Bulldogs with four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and was the first Fresno State player with two interception return scores since Thomas in 2012.

Honorable mention

Jamal Ellis (2013-16), Tyquan Glass (2015-16), Tank Kelly (2015-18), Sean Alston (2011-12), Curtis Riley (2013-14)

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

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