Five days ahead of National Signing Day, Clovis West High football star Johnny Rojas remained committed to San Jose State.
Rojas even took a visit last weekend to get one more look at the Spartans’ program up close. But by then he already had begun to waver after meeting new Fresno State tight ends coach Joe Bernardi and “after I slept on it and just sat around talking to my family about the pros and cons of both schools with the family on Monday.”
By Wednesday, it was the Bulldogs who received Rojas’ signed letter of intent.
My family was so excited for me that I made my decision and that it was right next door, and the Fresno State coaches were ecstatic.
Clovis West tight end Johnny Rojas on his decision to rebuff San Jose State and sign with the Bulldogs
“My family was so excited for me that I made my decision and that it was right next door, and the Fresno State coaches were ecstatic,” said Rojas, who gave Fresno State the word Monday. “First I told Bernardi when I called him, and then he said, ‘Hold up,’ and put me on speaker phone in front of (offensive coordinator Eric) Kiesau and (coach Tim) DeRuyter and you could hear the excitement in the room on the other side of the phone, and it just truly felt amazing.”
Rojas, a standout defensive lineman who will play tight end in college, was named to The Bee’s Fab 50 All-Star team and to the All-Tri-River Athletic Conference first team.
“Sitting and speaking with coach DeRuyter and hearing his great advice he gave me and seeing the passion for football he has and all the coaches have toward winning at Fresno State made my decision from decommitting very difficult,” the 6-foot-6, 216-pounder said. “After a lot of praying and talking to my family, it was the best option for me. None of this would have been possible without (Clovis West) coach George Petrissans reaching out on my behalf and (Bulldogs assistant) coach Pete Germano putting in the good word for me.”
Rojas will not be the first in his family to play football at Fresno State. His uncle, Danny Trejo, played receiver in 1984.
Bernardi was equally excited to have Rojas join the Bulldogs, while also talking about the importance of keeping central San Joaquin Valley players at home.
“Valley kids need to stay in the Valley,” he said. “Be a part of this program because so much of the roots of this program from coach (Jim) Sweeney and coach (Pat) Hill are based upon players that were overlooked and very talented and tough ... guys that represented the Valley well. We’re going to bring that net back.”
92tackles for Rojas as a senior defensive end at Clovis West, though he was recruited by Fresno State as a tight end
Rojas said that after speaking with Bernardi, he saw the passion he had for the game and the vision for Fresno State, and “that stirred up emotions inside of me of when I used to go watch Fresno State games as a kid.”
“I didn’t know how much I wanted to be a ’Dog. Then after talking to coach Kiesau as well as seeing his vision for Fresno State’s future, it made me think long and hard.”
When Rojas was 9, he dreamt of playing at Bulldog Stadium in front of family and friends. Now, he will set foot on Jim Sweeney Field in the fall as a member of the Bulldogs.
“My dad took me with his buddies, and just looking at so many people in one place all wearing practically the same shirts was really cool for me,” he said. “Then when we all made it to our seats and the Bulldogs rushed the field, it was so loud that my ears hurt. Watching them play was just amazing to me. As a little kid it felt like living in the same city as rock stars. I grew up wanting to play for the Bulldogs, wanting to be a rock star.”
Spring practice – The Bulldogs open spring practice Feb. 29.
The spring game will be April 2 at Bulldog Stadium, with the start time and full practice schedule still to be announced.