There are no big surprises on the Fresno State Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive depth charts for their Sept. 3 opener against Abilene Christian.
This was going to be a young team and it is – there are 13 freshmen, including six true freshmen, in the two-deep along with 10 sophomores. And there was a chance that senior Bo Bonnheim could end up starting at guard instead of center, and at this point that is where he is listed with junior Jacob Vazquez listed as the starting center.
“Our thing is we wanted to get our best five football players there, and with what Jacob has done this fall camp he is one of our top five,”Coach Tim DeRuyter said. “He is a better center than he is a guard, and to get him and Bo on the field at the same time, having him play center and Bo play guard, it gets our best five out there. When Micah (St. Andrew) comes in Bo will slide back to center.”
The depth chart:
▪ QB: Zack Greenlee (6-1, 216, Soph.), Chason Virgil (6-1, 184, Fr.) or Ford Childress (6-5, 230, Jr.)
▪ RB: Marteze Waller (5-11, 215, Sr.), Malique Micenheimer (6-0, 243, Sr.) or Dustin Garrison 5-9, 181, Sr.)
▪ LT: Alex Fifita (6-4, 306, Sr.), David Patterson (6-4, 288, Soph.)
▪ LG: Aaron Mitchell (6-2, 300, Soph.), Jacob Hicks (6-4, 301, RSFr.)
▪ C: Jacob Vazquez (6-1, 287, Jr.), Donnie Greene (6-2, 283, Fr.)
▪ RG: Bo Bonnheim (6-2, 286, Sr.), Micah St. Andrew (6-3, 327, RSFr.)
▪ RT: Justin Northern (6-4, 290, Sr.), Zack Kinninger (6-5, 299, Fr.)
▪ TE: Chad Olsen (6-5, 236, Soph.), Kyle Riddering (6-4, 242, RSFr.)
▪ WR (X): KeeSean Johnson (6-1, 190, RSFr.), Darrell Fuery 5-11, 202, Soph.)
▪ WR (Z): Josiah Blandin (6-2, 214, Jr.), L.J. Reed (6-3, 230, Fr.)
▪ WR (Y): Justin Johnson (6-1, 213, Sr.), Michael Martens (6-2, 211, Jr.)
▪ WR (H): Jamire Jordan (5-10, 168, RSFr.), Keyan Williams (5-10, 194, RSFr.)
▪ DE: Claudell Louis (6-5, 294, Sr.), Nick Kristofors (6-3, 268, Jr.)
▪ NG: Nathan Madsen (6-4, 290, Soph.), Ryan Steele (6-0, 285, Soph.)
▪ DE: Todd Hunt (6-2, 271, Sr.), Kyle Hendrickson (6-4, 266, RSFr.)
▪ OLB: Ejiro Ederaine (6-2, 234, Sr.), James Bailey (6-1, 202, Fr.)
▪ MIKE: Kyrie Wilson 6-2, 243, Sr.), Nela Otukolo (5-11, 234, Fr.)
▪ WILL: Jeff Camilli (6-2, 255, Jr.), Robert Stanley (6-2, 234, Soph.)
▪ OLB: Tobenna Okeke (6-2, 237, Soph.) or Brandon Hughes (6-3, 223, Jr.)
▪ CB: Charles Washington (5-11, 197, Sr.) or Tyquwan Glass (5-11, 185, Jr.)
▪ SS: Dalen Jones (6-0, 201, Jr.) or Stratton Brown (6-2, 196, Jr.)
▪ FS: Shannon Edwards (5-10, 189, Sr.), Alan Wright (6-0, 186, Jr.)
▪ CB: Jamal Ellis (5-10 179, Jr.) or Malcolm Washington (6-2, 179, Soph.)
▪ K: Kody Kroening (5-10, 150, Soph.) or Jimmy Camacho (5-10, 160, Soph.)
▪ KO: Jimmy Camacho, Garrett Swanson (6-0, 230, Sr.)
▪ P: Garrett Swanson, Blake Cusick (6-2, 175, Fr.)
▪ LS: Dylan Detwiler (6-1, 231, Sr.), Christian Samarzich (6-2, 220, Soph.)
▪ Holder: Garrett Swanson, Zack Greenlee
▪ PR: KeeSean Johnson or Keyan Williams
▪ KR: Jamire Jordan or Dustin Garrison
Cornerback Charles Washington ready to go
Senior cornerback Charles Washington, who missed most of the first half of fall camp coming back from two offseason surgeries to repair a core muscle injury, pronounced himself fit and ready to head into the season with the Bulldogs now into game-prep mode.
There were, he admitted, some anxious days in there with his rehab.
“There were, but the coaches always stayed behind me and told me to keep my head up, to get down on myself,” he said. “They told me to keep pushing, and it healed up before I expected.”
Defensive secondary trending up
Fresno State’s corner play was inconsistent last season, ranking 10th of 12 in the Mountain West Conference in pass defense. But that group has competed much better in fall camp, playing more aggressively against routes and contesting the ball in the air.
The depth is significantly better as is the confidence level with the players returning from a difficult season, notably junior Jamal Ellis and sophomore Malcolm Washington.
“Man, ’Mal, had the best camp out of all of us, no matter what happened last year – him having to start some games, not start some games – and it is good to see that,” Charles Washington said of Ellis. “He didn’t just let last year linger on him. He could have took it to the back burner, but he came out with tenacity and played his butt off all camp, and I think that will show this season.
“He has been playing a lot more confident. He can be a lot more assertive than he is, and I think he knows that. He’s starting to show it. I’m excited to see him. I’m happy to be able to line up next to Jamal and our whole defense. I look at everyone and know that they’re ready to play.”
Jacob Vazquez has the ‘mass’ for center
Why do the Bulldogs like Vazquez at center better than at guard?
“Just his overall body mass,” offensive line coach Cameron Norcross said. “He’s a little undersized to play guard, and Bo is not the biggest guy but he has a much higher physicality than Vazquez. Even though Vazquez had a super physical fall, I just think we’ll be more physical at guard with Bo there than with Vazquez there.”
▪ Wide out Delvon Hardaway remains a step ahead in his rehab from a knee injury suffered during spring practices. He was able to take part in some drills and run routes against air on Saturday, a few days ahead of schedule. “He’s just about there,” DeRuyter said. “He was running routes at a pretty good clip.” Hardaway is not expected back until the middle of September.
▪ Freshman running back Wesley Hill might not be on the two-deep, but he will be on the field a lot this season playing on three special teams rather than taking a redshirt season. “Wesley can run and can hit and I think he’ll help us on special teams and then we’ll groom him and get him ready to play a little bit this year,” running backs coach Ran Antoine said. “He’s on kickoff, he’s on kickoff return and he’s on punt return. Being the size of a running back that looks like he has been here for a couple of years, that makes him close to linebacker size and those guys play everywhere on special teams. We can’t get enough of them.”
▪ Wide out Josiah Blandin, the transfer from Long Beach City College, did not get off to the fastest start in fall camp. He has, though, had a nice push over the past week. “I think when guys first get here, we do things very differently than most places, and it takes guys time to figure it out,” DeRuyter said. “We’re hoping he has figured it out because we know he has talent. We need to exploit it, and for him to play at a top level he has to know what he’s doing, play full speed and just have that confidence that he can make plays. We have confidence in him, but he has to see himself doing it in order to realize it.”
▪ Strong safety Dalen Jones also took a step forward, coming back from a knee injury. Jones initially was expected to miss from six to 10 weeks, but it is looking much closer to two. He was able to participate in team drills on Saturday and is expected to be ready for the opener against Abilene Christian.
▪ Tricky play in a team period toward the end of practice – Greenlee fired a pass over the middle with inside receiver Keyan Williams and strong safety DeShawn Potts converging on the ball at nearly the same time. Potts got his hands on the ball, but it popped up and Williams snatched it out of the air on his way to the end zone.