Fresno State Football

Some rare good news for Fresno State football: Charles Washington returns

Fresno State senior defensive back Charles Washington, right, saw his streak of 34 consecutive starts snapped when he could not play at Air Force. But after some fear that an internal injury could end his season, he was back practicing Wednesday when the Bulldogs.
Fresno State senior defensive back Charles Washington, right, saw his streak of 34 consecutive starts snapped when he could not play at Air Force. But after some fear that an internal injury could end his season, he was back practicing Wednesday when the Bulldogs. The Fresno Bee

Fresno State has not received much good news this season when it comes to injuries, their ranks thinning considerably and mostly on the defensive side of the football through a 2-6 struggle.

But the Bulldogs got some regarding strong safety Charles Washington, who had been told Friday night as they were in final prep for a game at Air Force that his college career might be over because of an internal injury. The fifth-year senior, who had a streak of 34 consecutive starts halted when not on the field for the first defensive snap against the Falcons, has been cleared to return and was on the field Wednesday when the Bulldogs went through the first of two bye-week practices.

It’s huge. Not only is he a tremendous football player but being a senior he’s a leader.

Coach Tim DeRuyter on news that senior safety Charles Washington could be ready for next week’s game vs. Nevada

“I was kind of upset, but I knew it was my health so I was OK with it, the decision that the doctor had made,” Washington said. “But I didn’t find out until, like, 9 o’clock Friday night. I had practiced through the week with everything going on and I was ready to play, but I wasn’t able to.

“I tried to stay positive and I had a lot of support from my family, my coaches. But a lot of stuff was racing through my mind. There were five guaranteed games left for me and I missed one of the five I had. It was kind of nerve-wracking, but I’m back on track now and I’m ready to get out here and get another ‘W.’ 

Had Washington been ruled out for the season, the Bulldogs’ secondary would have taken a major hit. In the loss at Air Force, junior Dalen Jones started at strong safety and senior Shannon Edwards at free safety, but by the second half Edwards was playing strong safety and junior Allen Wright was at free safety.

Edwards had played some strong safety in his career, but had not taken any reps there this season. The Bulldogs, who were without safeties Stratton Brown and DeShawn Potts due to injury, ended the game with four available safeties including redshirt freshman walk-on Ryan Alvarez.

“It’s huge,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “Not only is he a tremendous football player but being a senior he’s a leader. Guys look up to him. And he’s a playmaker for us.

“We were worried that we were going to lose him for the rest of the year and to have him back, knock on wood, hopefully for the rest of the year is going to be big for us because we have to play better on the back end and he gives us a chance to do that.”

Get em while they’re hot – Fresno State is holding a $10 Flash Sale on tickets for its Nov. 5 game against Nevada.

The special, available only for online purchases, begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and will run through 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The athletic department is waiving all fees and fans will have the option to have their tickets delivered to their phone.

The Bulldogs had only 25,604 at home against UNLV, a game they won 31-28. That was the smallest crowd at Bulldog Stadium since Nov. 26, 2011, when 25,492 were on hand for a 27-24 loss to San Jose State, the final home game in a 4-9 season.

Et cetera – Nose guard Nate Madsen, who did not play at Air Force because of a lower leg injury, was in practice Wednesday and is expected to be ready by next Thursday when the Bulldogs play Nevada.

▪ Washington was taking his reps with the No. 1 defense at strong safety, with Edwards back at free safety.

▪ The Bulldogs went through a 90-minute practice heavy with fundamental work and ended it with a rookie ball session, with players that are on scout teams and redshirts going live. The defense had a good day, with one exception. Freshman quarterback Jesse Hanckel hit freshman wideout Chris Prior with a long touchdown pass, the receiver going up high to separate from the cornerback and make a nice play on the ball, then hit the ground running. “It was good to see Chris Prior make a big play,” DeRuyter said. “It’s like spring ball – plusses and minuses. Somebody let him go – I didn’t see who he beat – but Jesse put a nice ball on him and had a nice play. He evaded a tackle. To see him make a big play, that’s why you do it. I talked to the guys that normally play and I want those guys encouraging these guys. Those guys are supporting them, they’re getting them ready. It’s time for them to watch and support them.”

▪ Freshman defensive back Mike Bell, who dresses for games in case of emergency but is taking a redshirt season, continued to get reps at cornerback and safety. “Depending on how big he gets in the offseason, what our needs are and how he plays in spring ball, I think he has the ability to play either one,” DeRuyter said. “Right now, he might be a starter at safety (next season) versus being in the two-deep at corner. We’re going to try to find our best 11 and if he’s one of them, we’ll have him as a safety.”

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

Bulldogs on bye

Fresno State (2-6, 1-4) and Nevada (4-4, 2-2) have breaks in their schedules this week before meeting at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at Bulldog Stadium

Mountain West Conference standings

Conf.

All

West

W

L

PF

PA

W

L

PF

PA

San Diego State

4

0

127

42

5

3

219

151

San Jose State

3

2

136

138

4

4

221

221

Nevada

2

2

103

88

4

4

205

214

UNLV

1

2

78

81

2

5

198

192

Fresno State

1

4

89

196

2

6

168

327

Hawaii

0

4

61

141

2

6

136

254

Mountain

W

L

PF

PA

W

L

PF

PA

Boise State

3

1

156

76

6

2

304

138

Air Force

3

1

133

85

4

3

228

160

Utah St.

3

1

155

106

4

3

198

170

New Mexico

2

2

104

121

4

4

239

224

Colorado State

1

2

66

97

3

4

208

191

Wyoming

1

3

87

124

1

7

156

258

This week’s games

FRIDAY

Wyoming at Utah State, 7:15 p.m.

SATURDAY

Boise State at UNLV, 12:30 p.m.

San Diego State at Colorado State, 12:30 p.m.

Air Force at Hawaii, 7:30 p.m.

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