Fresno State Football

Fresno State loses top 2020 quarterback recruit Jaden Casey, who is jumping to a Pac-12 school

Fresno State is back in the 2020 quarterback market after highly touted recruit Jaden Casey backed away from a long-standing commitment to the Bulldogs on Monday night and announced that he would instead sign with Cal.

“Throughout my high school career I valued academics and my degree a little more,” said Casey, a senior year at Calabasas High in Southern California. “I think it was a better fit. It felt like home when I was there.

“The football is just as good. I had a great visit. I valued academics a little more and I wanted to get that Berkeley degree. That had a big part in it.”

Casey said the decision had nothing to do with the Bulldogs adding Jake Haener, who transferred to Fresno State this fall from Washington.

Had Casey signed with Fresno State, the Bulldogs still would have only four quarterbacks on scholarship next season with Haener a fourth-year junior and Ben Wooldridge and Steven Comstock redshirt sophomores.

At Cal, quarterback Chase Garbers is in his redshirt sophomore season and has made 14 career starts. Garbers, who is out with a shoulder injury, has much more playing experience than Haener and both have two years of eligibility remaining.

Jake Haener at practice
Washington transfer quarterback Jake Haener, center, listens to instructions during Fresno State football practice Wednesday morning, Sept. 4, 2019. Haener enrolled at Fresno State on Tuesday. Robert Kuwada rkuwada@fresnobee.com

“Now you can kind of say I wasn’t, but I was a loyal commit,” said Casey, who received a scholarship offer from Alabama and several other schools after committing to Fresno State. “When I got offers, I didn’t take a lot of visits. I didn’t go around the country to visit a lot of schools. I wanted to stay in California and I had a little interest in Cal.

“I took a visit and, I mean, I really liked the place. My family loved the place. It was an at-home feel. The whole Jake Haener thing doesn’t make sense because they have Chase Garbers, who has started for two years.”

The addition of Haener in September was significant for the Bulldogs, who would have been going into the spring with two scholarship quarterbacks in Wooldridge and Comstock; they also have two freshman walk-ons in Nate Lamb and Blaze McKibbin.

Fresno State with Jorge Reyna in his senior season needed a quarterback with some experience and without Haener would likely have been looking for a mid-year junior college transfer or a graduate transfer to join the group.

Haener played in four games last season at Washington behind starter Jake Browning, completing 9 of 13 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.

Since joining the Bulldogs program he has worked with the scout offense, preparing the defense for its upcoming opponent while sitting out under NCAA transfer guidelines.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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