George Helmuth rarely finds himself intimidated, even as a walk-on competing against highly recruited scholarship players at Fresno State.
But one of those times was after his arrival at Clovis North High School.
Helmuth had transferred from Kerman and quickly discovered the difference in the programs’ styles. Still, he adapted and it helped develop the edge he needed to move on and succeed at the NCAA level.
“Glad I transferred to Clovis North,” said Helmuth, now a Bulldogs sophomore inside linebacker awaiting Saturday’s opener at Nebraska. “Clovis North is phenomenal … and best in the state. That’s why I really went there. I jelled and really enjoyed my time over there.”
Helmuth got the opportunity to be coached by then-Broncos coach Cory Hall, a former Fresno State and NFL defensive back and now Oregon State’s cornerbacks coach.
Clovis North gave me an outlet to get here. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I didn’t go to Clovis North.
Inside linebacker George Helmuth on his journey to Fresno State
“The football knowledge and all that stuff, it was tremendous and prepared me for this level, no doubt,” Helmuth said. “Clovis North gave me an outlet to get here. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I didn’t go to Clovis North.”
Also on those Broncos teams were two more future Bulldogs: tight end Kyle Riddering and quarterback Christian Rossi.
Riddering got a scholarship at Fresno State. Rossi went to Cal State Fullerton on a baseball scholarship, ended up playing football at Fresno City College, then joined the Bulldogs this fall.
Helmuth earned an invite to be a preferred walk-on. Last season, he played in all 12 games, recording 17 tackles and recovering two fumbles. Helmuth had a season-high five tackles in the win at Hawaii.
“He went out there and proved himself,” Riddering said. “He really got used to the game speed. He’s always been a smart football player. Even at Clovis North he was one of the smart guys on defense. I think he’s really developed the game speed and getting the strength to be able to be physical. He was already a physical player, but even more so now.”
Helmuth came to Fresno State weighing 215. He’s now listed at 6-foot-1 and 224 pounds.
“The weight room has been a huge thing for him in the last calendar year. The last six months, his body has changed a lot,” Bulldogs inside linebackers coach Nick Toth said. “He’s worked really hard and developed his strength. With that, he’s gained a lot of weight and become a viable player.
“He’s always been a really smart football player. He’s understanding the defense a lot better, feeling more comfortable with his role, and his leadership has increased. He’s a little more vocal with the guys.”
And he remains loyal to his roots.
Football is really important to him and so is school, so is his family, so is being a teammate.
Fresno State inside linebackers coach Nick Toth, on George Helmuth
“He’s a highly intelligent young man.” Toth said. “Football is really important to him and so is school, so is his family, so is being a teammate. Being at Fresno State means a lot to him.
“Guys in the Valley have pride, whether it’s Clovis North or Clovis East or Visalia. We get guys that are brought in to play in front of their family and friends. They understand what coach (Jim) Sweeney and coach (Pat) Hill did, long before I was here. I can’t teach that to anybody.”
Toth said Helmuth will see action again this season, especially on special teams. “He finds a way to get reps on the field because he’s consistent every day.”
Helmuth doesn’t plan on changing.
“I’m an everyday dude,” he said. “I love football and I’m consistent. If you’re consistent enough at anything, you’ll be successful. I’m still here because I worked hard and stayed consistent.”