New Fresno State offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau apparently is making an impression on prospective recruits.
One now-likely Bulldogs signee decommitted from Pacific-12 Conference school Washington State and another from Mountain West rival San Jose State.
Barring a last-minute change of heart, St. John Bosco High School-Bellflower dual-threat quarterback Quentin Davis and Canoga Park running back Deonte Perry are expected to be among those joining Fresno State’s 2016 recruiting class Wednesday on National Signing Day.
Fresno State has 14 verbal commitments and the Bulldogs hope most, as well as others such as Davis and Perry, will have formally submitted letters of intent by the time coach Tim DeRuyter begins his signing day news conference at 10 a.m. Under NCAA rules, coaches are prohibited from speaking about specific recruits until those letters are received.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Fresno State’s class was ranked 84th nationally by recruiting website Scout.com, 100th by 247sports.com and 93rd by Rivals. Scout ranks Fresno State’s class eighth out of 12 in the Mountain West. But those rankings don’t include Davis and Perry, who have not publicly committed to the Bulldogs but are believed to be leaning that way, and a couple more who also could sign Wednesday.
Fresno State is expected to sign at least eight three-star recruits (on a five-star scale), based on Scout rankings, counting Davis and Perry.
Scout.com director of recruiting Brandon Huffman said he’s seen an improvement in the Bulldogs’ recruiting.
Under the previous regime, the Bulldogs waited until too late for so many targets. Now, they’re identifying guys earlier and staying on them and in it until the end, which is allowing them to have better prospects because they’re building that relationship with them earlier and making Fresno State more enticing.
Scout.com director of recruiting Brandon Huffman
“I think you’re continuing to see what early aggression on the recruiting trail can net you,” he said. “Under the previous regime, the Bulldogs waited until too late for so many targets. Now, they’re identifying guys earlier and staying on them and in it until the end, which is allowing them to have better prospects because they’re building that relationship with them earlier and making Fresno State more enticing.”
As in the case of two central San Joaquin Valley stars who are among the 14 verbal commits: Hanford High cornerback Juwuane Hughes and Central Catholic-Modesto running back Justin Rice.
“I’m a big fan of Juwuane Hughes,” Huffman said. “He’s got a lot of position versatility and is just a tremendous all-around football player who was a huge part of Hanford’s success. Plus he’s a Central Valley kid, which is important for the Bulldogs to keep the kids they have a chance at home.
“I also like Justin Rice a lot. He’s one of the best power backs in the West and he’ll join his brother, (tight end) Jared, at Fresno State, which gave them a leg up in his recruitment. He’s a winner too, helping Central Catholic to state titles the last three years, and he was a big reason why.”
Most recruits weren’t fazed by the Bulldogs’ lackluster 3-9 season or the subsequent changes to the coaching staff. Most are embracing the situation.
“I looked at it like this: I looked at everybody else who committed, talked to them and was like we have to get this back on track,” Duncanville (Texas) safety Jaron Bryant said. “We’re recruiting a hell of a class this year from both high school and JUCO. We will be back on top soon.”
Fresno State added six midyear community college players on the first day those recruits could sign in December, key additions for a team in need of immediate help.
Davis, meanwhile, decommitted from Washington State after his visit with the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder took an official trip to Fresno State on Jan. 15 and described it as “awesome” and Kiesau as “great,” apparently cementing his new decision.
The Bulldogs were riddled by injuries and inefficiency at quarterback last season, changing their starter six times. Chason Virgil and Ford Childress suffered season-ending injuries, and Zack Greenlee made five starts but has since left the program. Virgil, Childress and Kilton Anderson, who also saw action as a starter, return for 2016.
Fresno State hosted a handful of recruits in January, hoping to pick up some late commitments, and it worked in the case of outside linebacker Tainoa Foster of Kamehameha Secondary in Honolulu.
“The defense had some issues, especially in the front seven,” Huffman said. “So they’ve helped their depth chart, especially at linebacker, with Tainoa Foster, a guy I like a lot.”
Credit on that side of the ball goes to new defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.
“Lorenzo Ward is a great guy and hilarious,” Buena Park outside linebacker/defensive end Andrew Wright said. “Coach DeRuyter did a great job with the new coaches.”
Fresno State director of player personnel Jimmy Morimoto said the program has been aggressive in its efforts.
With the two new coordinators, there’s a new buzz around town (and from) all the recruits I’ve talked to and the assistant coaches, everybody is excited about our new coordinators and the direction coach DeRuyter is going with everything.
Fresno State director of player personnel Jimmy Morimoto
“With the two new coordinators, there’s a new buzz around town,” Morimoto said, “(and from) all the recruits I’ve talked to and the assistant coaches, everybody is excited about our new coordinators and the direction coach DeRuyter is going with everything.”
Huffman pointed at Kiesau’s success in recruiting while on the University of Washington staff.
“Kiesau had a great rep at all of his previous Pac-12 stops as a recruiter,” he said. “I think that is helping the Bulldogs out because he’s familiar with the landscape in the West, of which schools to hit. He has relationships with those coaches and saw a lot of these players when they were sophomores when he was at Washington and that staff recruited at a high level. Kiesau is a guy who gets it and knows the challenges of recruiting to Fresno State but embraces it.”
National Signing Day coverage
Follow The Bee’s Robert Kuwada (@rkuwada), Andy Boogaard (@beepreps) and Anthony Galaviz (@agalaviz_TheBee) on Wednesday for the latest on Fresno State’s recruiting class and prep reports, including on two more Valley star recruits – uncommitted linebacker Caleb Kelly of Clovis West and Bulldogs-bound Juwuane Hughes. The Bee’s annual chart showing who’s headed where among the Central Section Class of 2016 will be online Wednesday at www.fresnobee.com and in Thursday’s Bee
Fresno State’s 2016 verbal commits
- Quentin Davis, QB, St. John Bosco-Bellflower
- Deonte Perry, RB, Canoga Park
- Juwuane Hughes, CB, Hanford
- Justin Rice, RB, Central Catholic-Modesto
- Tainoa Foster, OLB, Kamehameha Secondary-Honolulu
- Elijah Piper, DT, Curtis Senior-Tacoma (Washington)
- Jaron Bryant, S, Duncanville (Texas)
- Kevin Atkins, DE, Vista Murrieta
- Lukas McKenzie, S, Reno
- Andrew Wright, OLB, Buena Park
- Quireo Woodley, OG, Murrieta Valley
- Donte Coleman, TE, West Mesquite (Texas)
- Saevion Johnson, RB, Glenda Dawson-Pearland (Texas)
- Austin Vaimili, DE, El Camino College