Question, BarkBoard.com: How did you end up at Fresno State?
Answer, Burl Toler III: I spent the last three years coaching at Cal. I’m originally from Berkeley. I played there from 2001 to 2005. I played professionally for eight years. After coaching there (at Cal) these last three years, I ended up linking back up with Coach Kiesau. He was actually my wide receivers coach there. Coach Unger coached me on special teams in 2002 at Cal and I had Coach Kiesau from 2002 to 2005. I always had a great relationship with him. Kiesau has been a great friend and mentor ever since he coached me. He ended up bringing me on to coach wide receivers this year at Fresno State. I’m happy to be a Bulldog and get this thing going.
Q: What’s your initial impression of being here and the program overall?
A: My initial impression, I love it. It’s a family atmosphere. It’s awesome being here. The coaching staff is second to none. The energy and juice we have on the field is great. We have competition at every position, competition with the coaches - competing, going against each other. I love that. We’re set out to do great things.
Q: Did you happen to run into any former Bulldogs over your professional career?
A: Between playing arena, NFL, CFL, everything, it’s been a long journey so I’ve crossed paths with a bunch of guys. One receiver, Rodney Wright, was actually my roommate at the San Jose Sabercats. I’m trying to get him to come out. I’m hoping he’ll come out and hang out and talk with our receivers. The one thing that’s great to have is such as family atmosphere. It’s a good to have a lot of the Bulldogs come back in town. We had a bunch of guys come back, Davante Adams and (Josh) Harper came back (recently) and talked with our guys. That’s the kind of place it is here. Once you’re a Bulldog you’re always a Bulldog. I saw that on day one and that’s something that will continue to grow.
Q: As far as recruiting goes, what was your role in your previous coaching experience and how does it compare here?
A: I have a lot more responsibility here recruiting. I have the Bay Area, so I get to go back home to recruit, which is great. I have a lot of existing relationships with coaches there. So I’ll get to rekindle those. I actually have from Santa Rosa down to Monterey. I’m really involved and excited to get that going. That’s something I take pride in. I take pride in getting to know players and bringing them down here to be Bulldogs.
Q: What are you seeing from the group of receivers you have inherited?
A: I love my receivers. I have 13 true ‘Dogs. They are eager to learn. There’s a lot of stuff to learn playing receivers and we’re throwing the book at them early. Everything from formations to hand signals to routes to concepts and they’re grasping it all. As it goes, we’re going to continue to sharpen our tools so we’re ready to pull out any given one at any given time. I love my group. I’m excited to coach them. I’m honored and privileged to have the guys that I have. They push each other every day. I don’t have any starters right now, they’re all pushing for those spots. Competition breeds success, iron sharpens iron. We’ll see as this thing keeps going.
Q: The previous offensive coaching staff had a separate coach for outside and inside receivers. Are you responsible for both?
A: I’m doing both, so I have the left and right, which is considered the outside receivers - the X’s and Z’s. Then I also have the H receivers, so the slots. It’s great to have both because now we’re on the same page as far as knowing what’s going on. They can communicate and get to know each other, make eye-contact and help each other out on the field. I love having all 13 of them. It’s a good thing to have both receivers, outside and inside, in the meeting room.
Q: Dejonte O’neal was one of your 13 guys, but it looks like he might not be after the plays he’s been making at running back...
A: He’s making plays, that’s all we ask. I tell my guys we need to play on special teams, we need to play receiver, we need to make plays on the field, so it doesn’t bother me at all. He’s a playmaker, so if he needs to play running back, go ahead and do that. He scored two touchdowns (in the first scrimmage), which is great. But he also made some catches at receivers. As a wide receiver coach, I’m going to take pride in trying to keep him a wide receiver, but if he needs to play running back that’s fine. He makes plays which is what we encourage all our guys to do.
Q: The spots are up for grabs, but what are you seeing from the returning players like Da’Mari Scott, Delvon Hardaway and Aaron Peck?
A: The biggest thing I see from Scott, Hardaway, Peck, KeeSean Johnson, Mike Martins, everybody is just making plays and competing and that’s all we ask right now. I tell them everyday we have no starters. They’re all making each other better and we’re pushing each other. Competition is something I take pride in. I started it off this year with a Madden tournament. We had that competition going. Everything is compete, compete, compete. That’s the kind of feeling and family we have.
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