Committed over: Interest from Colorado, New Mexico and Northern Colorado
Jeff Tedford wants to run an offense that features tight ends - so stocking up on them was a top priority this offseason. Gunner Javernick gets the added bonus of transferring at the midyear point to practice with the team and learn the ropes this spring.
The Bulldogs enter 2017 with a big question mark at the tight end position. Many of the players labeled as tight ends in the previous staff’s offense are being moved elsewhere, while some returners from other positions are even being moved to fill the gaps left behind. Fresno State thought it had another junior college tight end in the 2017 class, Christian Williams, but eventually lost him to TCU. The loss makes Javernick’s addition even more important, and opens the door for other returners or even incoming freshman Daniel Moraga to compete for playing time.
Javernick is an under-the-radar recruit, but one that could still provide an immediate impact at the position. Reported between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7, he is a definite receiving threat - especially in the redzone. He has the athleticism to get open and make tough, even one-handed, catches.
Also on the recruiting front, Javernick serves as the first of likely many to come through the Ventura College pipeline in the Tedford era. Tedford and VC coach Steve Mooshagian are fellow Fresno State players and coaches who have a good relationship. Expect to see Ventura College talents to transfer to Fresno State on an annual basis, whether it be as a part of the recruiting class or as preferred walk-ons. Ventura College athlete Brian Burts is set to walk-on at Fresno State and Central Valley high school prospects are already looking at going to Ventura College as a means to get back to Fresno State.
On paper: Jerin McClendon - The last time Fresno State brought in a junior college tight end with eye-popping measurables was Jerin McClendon, a 6-foot-7 prospect out of Phoenix College. McClendon did not have much reported recruiting action, while Javernick is also a lesser-known recruit. However, McClendon came to Fresno State with very little experience in the receiving game and was primarily used for blocking and special teams. Javernick comes to Fresno State off of a five-touchdown season and a first-team SCFA selection.
On the field: Marcel Jensen - Both Jensen and Javernick come from basketball backgrounds and provide down-the-field athleticism at their height. Neither are immaculate route runners, but seem to find holes in the defense and have the length to pull down passes in the end zone.
Like Jensen, Javernick took an unusual path to his newfound role. Jensen was recruited as a defensive lineman, and, eventually after rehabbing from a leg injury, made the move to tight end in a new offense. Javernick started his college career as a basketball player at Colorado State-Pueblo before transferring to Ventura College to give football another try.
Also like Jensen, Javernick was a weapon in a spread offense that didn’t utilize the tight end a lot, but could not be denied due to his talents. Despite Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper, Jensen found opportunities to make big plays. Likewise, Javernick wasn’t always on the field in a similar Ventura College spread offense, but made the most of his chances.
“He’s a big 6-foot-5 all-conference tight end,” Tedford explained of Javernick. “They ran a lot of 10 personnel (one running back, no tight end), but when he was in there they really used him around the end zone. He’s a great target. He’s a former basketball player so he’s really athletic, has great body control. He gets up and gets to the football. He did a nice job in run blocking as well - did a lot of movement with him - pulling on counters and leading backers.”
Possibly the most underrated part of Javernick’s game is his ability to play as an H-Back. When Ventura College lined up in the shotgun, they often times lined up Javernick in between the offensive line and the backfield. He would go into motion or be used as a designed lead blocker. Sources tell us that Fresno State’s new offensive scheme will likely feature some similar formations and the Bulldogs need a blocker to plug into that position. Javernick will likely be an instant fit in that role.
“I would say in the red zone I’m good one-on-one with safeties,” Javernick said. “I’m a good run blocker, good inside the tackles… It’s nice [my height] because they just have to throw the ball up where I can get it and it’s coming down with me. It’s a good advantage.”
We expect Javernick to compete for an immediate role this spring. Fresno State will likely use multiple tight ends and Javernick will likely be a mainstay in the rotation. At the very least, he gives the Bulldogs a big weapon near the end zone and a lead blocker out of the shotgun.