When Fresno State went through a coaching change in 2011 it resulted in a recruiting class that ranked 113th in the nation, the Bulldogs’ worst on record according to Scout.com - This time, new head coach Jeff Tedford and his staff are on pace to have one of Fresno State’s best recruiting classes in several years.
With the Bulldogs’ most recent commit, three-star recruit Daniel Moraga, Fresno State currently ranks 71st in the nation and third in the Mountain West. A No. 71 ranking would surpass all five recruiting classes in the Tim DeRuyter era at Fresno State and would be the best showing since 2010 when the Bulldogs placed No. 65 nationally. It would also be only the second time that the ‘Dogs finished with one of the top three classes in the Mountain West.
A coaching change can be one of the top reasons for a down year when it comes to recruiting. A new head coach and his staff typically have just one-to-two months to recruit, not taking into account a lengthy “dead period” where contact is limited during the holidays.
When Tedford arrived, he inherited a recruiting class of 11 commits. The Bulldogs ranked just 96th in the nation and sixth in the Mountain West. Tedford nearly started from scratch, however, as Fresno State parted ways with all but two of those 11 - leaving Tedford less than three months to assemble his staff and fill as many as 30 scholarships.
Tedford first hit the road as a one-man recruiting team with a focus on junior college recruits.
The Bulldogs added added five mid-year transfers highlighted by three-star quarterback Jorge Reyna and three-star defensive back Matthew Boateng. Fresno State currently has nine junior college scholarship commits, one of the largest groups in the nation.
“The most important thing (first) are the early signees,” Tedford said in December. “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… is really on JC recruiting and mid-year recruits, obviously, or else we just run out of time with it.”
The class also has a presence of local talent with five commits from the Central Valley, not including three other preferred walk-on pledges. That list also does not include the son of Fresno State great Ron Rivers, Ronnie Rivers, who committed out of Oakley (Calif.).
Fresno State really turned the corner in January once the full staff was completed, however. In the last 16 days alone, the Bulldogs have added 13 scholarship commits, eight of which have earned three-star ratings. Fresno State has had entire recruiting classes without that many three-star recruits, as recently as 2014.
As of Tuesday morning, Fresno State has 31 commitments, five of which are preferred walk-ons. Five others signed at the mid-year signing point, which do not count against the Bulldogs’ 25 scholarships to use on National Signing Day. That leaves Fresno State with four open slots (on paper) to be filled in the next 24 hours.
Fresno State remains hopeful for two high-profile recruits on National Signing Day. Local four-star defensive back Jaylon Johnson and three-star tight end Ben Moos are yet to make their final decisions. Landing one or both would almost certainly put Fresno State into the top 70. Johnson will decide Wednesday between Utah, Fresno State and Arizona State, while Moos has Cal, Fresno State and Louisville in his top schools.
Fresno State national / conference rankings by year
2017: No. 71 / 3rd (In progress)
2016: No. 75 / 5th
2015: No. 85 / 4th
2014: No. 81 / 6th
2013: No. 77 / 3rd
2012: No. 113 / 9th
2011: No. 93 / 3rd
2010: No. 65 / 1st
2009: No. 70 / 3rd
2008: No. 60 / 1st
2007: No. 68 / 2nd
2006: No. 96 / 5th
2005: No. 92 / 5th
2004: No. 110 / 7th
2003: No. 64 / 2nd
2002: No. 52 / 1st