Coach Tim DeRuyter continues to rework the Fresno State football staff, but the key pieces are in place and will be out at schools and in homes Thursday when a recruiting contact period opens for what will be a two-and-a-half week sprint to national-letter-of-intent signing day.
DeRuyter has hired new offensive and defensive coordinators in Eric Kiesau and Lorenzo Ward and is awaiting paperwork to be finalized to bring offensive line coach Mark Weber and tight ends coach Joe Bernardi back to Fresno State – Weber coached the offensive line in 2004-05 and Bernardi was a four-year starter at center from 2007-10. Pete Germano will return as the defensive line coach, Jordan Peterson will again coach the outside linebackers and Nick Toth next season will coach the inside linebackers after working as defensive coordinator the past four seasons.
Fresno State still has two openings on its staff with running backs coach Ron Antoine expected to take a job at Texas State, where his wife, Zenarae, is the women’s basketball coach.
The running backs position will be filled, and the ninth spot on the staff could be on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, though more likely the former with Ward expected to coach the secondary along with graduate assistant coach Ricky Manning Jr.
To me, I think we hit a home run with the combination of these guys.
Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter, on adding Eric Kiesau, Lorenzo Ward, Mark Weber and Joe Bernardi to his staff
“You have to go through the process and do your homework on all of them, and I really think that we have a great mix of guys that have great experience,” DeRuyter said. “Lorenzo is a guy that has SEC experience and NFL experience. You look at Eric and he’s a guy that has been a coordinator at three Power Five schools and this past year, as I discussed with him, he feels like he got a Ph.D in how to run a football program going through the process at Alabama and winning a national championship.
“So you have tremendous experience there, and Coach Weber and Bernardi, they’re Fresno State guys. They know the state of California from a recruiting standpoint. They’ve been in this league. To me, I think we hit a home run with the combination of these guys.”
The staff will have to circle the state before it can circle the bases; the priority now recruiting.
Fresno State signed six community college players last month during the midyear signing period and also is counting cornerback Daquawn Brown, a transfer from Washington State, in its 2016 recruiting class. Fresno State is expected to sign a class of 25, though it may again hold in reserve one or two scholarships on the Feb. 3 NLI signing day to use in the spring as it did a year ago.
The additions of Lorenzo Ward and Eric Kiesau could allow Fresno State to expand its recruiting base in the Pacific Northwest and in the South – and the pool of players it recruits.
For the next two weeks, DeRuyter said, the Bulldogs staff will narrow its focus on 2016. But the additions of Ward and Kiesau could allow Fresno State to expand its recruiting base and pool of players who it recruits. Ward, who for the past seven years has been the defensive coordinator at South Carolina, brings extensive ties to a new recruiting ground in the Atlanta area. Kiesau, who has recruited California extensively, spent two years as the offensive coordinator at Washington and could help expand the Bulldogs brand into the Pacific Northwest.
“I think any time you get a chance to play on national TV like we do, you get a chance to put your brand out there, and when you can expand the pool of guys you can look at, it gives you a chance to get some next-level talent from areas that maybe don’t get recruited as hard as California,” DeRuyter said. “We have to do our due diligence here, but there are players all over the country and I don’t care where we send their mail to. We’re going to put them on the board and rank them based on what we see on film and then obviously talking with the coaches and the counselors and teachers around them.
“Lorenzo has been in Atlanta for a long period of time and has a tremendous relationship with the high school coaches there. He has been a tremendous recruiter for South Carolina, and we’re going to explore in the future using Atlanta as a place to get a few guys. We’re obviously going to base our team here in California and we’ll get some guys from Texas, but I think Atlanta is going to be another one of those places where we can get a few guys every year.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada