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Spring Primer: Position Changes

Fresno State’s spring practice begins on March 27, and when it does, there will be a handful of Bulldogs working in new positions.

Josh Hokit - Running back, from linebacker

Perhaps the most notable position decision from the new coaching staff so far was what they decided to do with walk-on turned fan favorite Josh Hokit. As a true freshman, he earned a spot on the two-deep with his impressive hitting at linebacker, but played out his last two games as a running back. In those two appearances, he carried the ball 27 times for 130 yards. Tedford and staff must have liked what they saw, as Hokit will stay at running back to start spring 2017.

Kyle Hendrickson - Tight end, from defensive end

Jackson Moore - Scout

Hendrickson became a regular in the defensive line rotation as a redshirt freshman in 2015, but ended that season with a serious injury. Though he made his way back onto the field last season, he was unable to return to form. Hendrickson was recruited with the intent of bulking up and developing into a 3-4 defensive lineman, but it appears the new coaching staff doesn’t see him as a fit on their new defensive front. Hendrickson will move to tight end and is anticipated to provide a blocking presence.

Johnny Rojas - Defensive end, from tight end

Fresno State will swap Hendrickson for Johnny Rojas, a 2016 recruit out of Clovis West. Rojas was recruited by some schools as a defensive end, but was recruited by the Bulldogs’ previous coaching staff as a tight end. Fresno State’s new coaching staff appears to agree with others’ evaluations. Despite a need for tight end, Rojas will be flexed back to the defensive side of the ball going forward.

Justin Rice - Safety, from running back

Justin Rice was one of the most exciting recruits in the 2016 class - a three-star and 6-foot-2 athlete who was projected at running back. Rice went down with an injury in fall camp and the previous coaching staff decided not to redshirt him - only to give him just eight carries on the season. Fresno State defensive backs coach J.D. Williams has an eye for talent in the defensive secondary and will see what the dynamic athlete can do as a safety. Rice could possibly use his redshirt year to adjust, but the Bulldogs are thin in depth at the position.

Jaleel Carter - Defensive line, from offensive line

Jaleel Carter is one of the biggest players on Fresno State’s roster, standing at 335 pounds - at 6-foot-2. Carter was recruited for depth at the nose guard position with his size, but an extreme depth issue on the offensive line required him to move to offense last season. Carter will be back on the defensive side of the ball in 2017, with a new defensive scheme. A season worth of development will have been lost due to his move last year, however.

Chris Paz - Linebacker, from wide receiver

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San Joaquin Memorial talent Chris Paz had FBS options, but chose to stay home at Fresno State as a preferred walk-on in 2016. Paz was viewed as a safety by some schools and as a receiver by others. After spending a redshirt year as a receiver, the new staff will try Paz as a linebacker. He can certainly drop back into coverage, but at 210 pounds, he may need to bulk up to be a difference maker in the box. Fresno State plans to use a versatile defense and Paz could be an intriguing option at the position.

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