Fresno State Head Coach Jeff Tedford is now in charge, but any assistants won’t be named until Dec. 5 at the earliest - a tough situation when it comes to recruiting.
The recruiting “dead period” starts on Dec. 12, leaving Tedford and any immediate hires a short window to really recruit before the final stretch to National Signing Day on Feb. 1. So how does the new head coach decide where to spend his limited time?
Right now, Tedford has made his first priority clear - targeting mid-year transfers. These transfers typically come from the junior college ranks. Those players that qualify academically for a four-year college can sign to Fresno State and transfer into the program for spring practices, which is a big advantage in player development. There is also the rarer cases of high school recruits leaving for college early.
That transfer window opens and closes later this month, making it the Bulldogs’ most immediate priority, Tedford said.
“The most important thing are the early signees,” Tedford said. “Because we are really going to have one week to recruit because it goes dead December 12 and we won’t have a staff until that week. We will try and have a big weekend that weekend and then it goes dead from there … early signing date is in mid-December, so the focus right now is really on JC recruiting and mid-year recruits, obviously, or else we just run out of time with it.
“We are right up against it and there’s been some challenges for sure, given the 14-day period and all that, but we’ll be fine. We’re working hard at it, and we’ll get the staff going, and we’ll hit the ground running when they get here.”
So far, the strategy has netted Fresno State two commitments ready to sign this month and join the team ahead of time - West Los Angeles College quarterback Jorge Reyna and Ventura College tight end Gunner Javernick.
Tedford’s message stretched farther than football, Reyna said.
“The main thing he sold is he believes a whole lot more than just football, that he wants a well-rounded person that is a great example for the community and mainly academics,” Reyna said. “You have to have the academics and you have to work hard for it. That’s something I love and I would love to endure the challenge.
“I was actually going to wait a bit and see what other offers I was going to rack up, but I just love Coach Tedford’s philosophy, why he’s at Fresno State, the hopes and commitment we will have, me and him, to build the program and the community.”
The second commitment brings back flashes of the Pat Hill days, where some under recruited players were evaluated and brought in based on athletic potential. Many became Fresno State’s best products.
Six-foot-seven tight end Gunner Javernick has the love for the game, but first wound up at Colorado State University Pueblo for basketball.
Said Javernick, “I’ve always loved football, but I never got heavily recruited for football, so I chose basketball at the time because I was recruited more there,”
Javernick flashed for 13 catches for 125 yards and five touchdowns at Ventura College and becomes a big pass-catching target for the ‘Dogs next year.
Other mid-year targets to watch for in the coming weeks include the running back and offensive line positions, sources tell BarkBoard.com.
The Bulldogs can expect to see additional junior college targets beyond the mid-year period too. Tedford recently offered Fullerton College tight end Christian Williams who projects as a May graduate.
“I just got offered [Tuesday],” Williams told BarkBoard.com. “I know they just got a new coach and they used to be really good a while ago, but the last couple years they haven’t been doing so well. I’m hoping that coach will turn that program around… I was really excited, it’s my first offer in California.”
Fresno State could have another junior college quarterback join the program next fall as well, as Cameron Burston previously committed to the former coaching staff, but is not eligible as a midyear transfer.
“We will definitely do some JC recruiting - no doubt about that,” Tedford said. “We already have and we will continue to, but it is a process. I don’t think I can really make a determination on the totality of it all until I know our players personally. Get to know them individually, and that’s what I’ll do over the next 3-4 days, is meet with each and every player and get to know who they are and what they’re about.”
Stay tuned for more recruiting developments at BarkBoard.com.