Bulldogs Look To Establish Recruiting Pipeline

Fresno State has made sweeping changes with how it goes about recruiting and building a renewed relationship with schools in California. The Barkboard continues its series with its latest stop – Ventura College.

The Mooshagian family and the Tedford’s have shared a bond that started in the 559.

Bobby Mooshagian, a former Central Section football player who grew up around the FS football facilities, recalls the days of running around the offices and at Bulldog Stadium while his father Steve and a young assistant named Jeff Tedford worked together to build the Bulldog football brand.

Now, the son of the Ventura College head coach is one of the guys at the forefront in re-creating that strong pipeline between the Pirates and the Bulldogs. The Barkboard sat down with the Pirates’ assistant to not only share his favorite memories in the 559, but dives into VC’s plans to assist the new Bulldog regime under the man he grew up around: New Bulldog head coach Jeff Tedford.

Barkboard: How long have you been with VC? What are your primary roles? 

Bobby Mooshagian: I’ve been here at Ventura College since 2011, now heading into my seventh season. Throughout the years, one of many things I’ve learned from my father is to "live in the moment" and to never be content and stop learning. Jim Sweeney used to always tell my father “Coach like you’ll be here forever…and then you won’t be,” and that’s true with any profession, so I have taken pride in trying to leave my own mark here at Ventura College and I’ve taken on many different roles since I got here. Whatever role I'm doing, I go all in and view it as my primary role in that moment. However, from coaching the wide receiver position, along with being the Director of both Player Personnel and Creative Services, it tends to keep me busy year round. Besides the recruiting and the football on the field aspect right now, I also design, manage and market our programs’ graphic/video/multimedia content as I do for all 19 sports at Ventura College. My free time is a rarity because I manage our VC Football social media pages. I have fun and enjoy each day so throughout the years I have chosen to take on more responsibilities to help build this program to the highest level possible.

BB: Where were your Central Valley stops at? What memories you do you have there?

BM: After playing at Sacramento State, my first coaching job was actually in Fresno at my alma mater San Joaquin Memorial. Originally, I was set to coach receivers at Clovis High, but thankfully my former head coach (and still current SJM head coach) Anthony Goston reached out to me about joining his staff. He gave me my first real opportunity so the fact that my first job was at the school I graduated from and won a section championship at is something I'll forever be thankful for. 

In 2009-2010, I moved back west and on to the junior college ranks when my father got the head job at Feather River JC in Quincy, Calif; a town of about 2,000 people up in the mountains of Northern California and about an hour or so west of Reno, NV. I was the WR coach there for two seasons, the season before my father took the job at Ventura College in 2010. 

I was born in Fresno and grew up running through the coaches offices, locker rooms and through Bulldog Stadium as my father coached wide receivers and was the recruiting coordinator for 10 seasons under his former coach, the late great Sweeney. My dad probably holds the only record that can never be broken. As a receiver who started alongside greats Henry Ellard and Stephone Paige, my dad was lucky enough to be able to score the first touchdown ever in the ‘then’ brand new Bulldog Stadium during their 21-14 win against Montana State on November 15th, 1980, six years before I was born.

Our family moved away from Fresno when I was 10 as my father’s coaching career moved forward and included stops such as the offensive coordinator at Nevada and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the WR coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2003, my grandfather (mother’s father) was battling cancer, we moved back to Fresno during the spring of my sophomore year of high school. My dad chose to look for a coaching job close to us, that's why he left the NFL to take the Sacramento State head job for the next four years. I started at Clovis West before moving over to SJM my junior year. 

I grew up and got to witness some of the great moments during the original glory days of Fresno State football.  I moved away, returned and moved away again, but to this day, I can still see coach Sweeney's smile as he gave us (my sisters and I) a kiss on the cheek every time we saw him, and I can still smell the mixture of fresh cut grass, sweat, and magic that stained that locker room during all those great Bulldog seasons. The memories do run deep and the love and passion I have for Fresno State football will always pump "Bulldog spirit" through my Valley made veins…and stay deep in my heart forever.

BB: Let's go back to the news of when Tedford got hired by FS. What was the initial reaction inside the Mooshagian household? 

BM: Aside from pure excitement, I'd probably say we all felt some nostalgia creep over us as we began to talk about the great tradition of Bulldog Football. Coach Tedford, his wife Donna and their two sons Taylor and Quinn were all at Fresno State during some of the same years we were. The family relationship dynamic dated back even further as JT went to Warren HS in Norwalk which was my dad’s school, Downey High's, most hated rival. They started off as rivals playing against each other then became teammates and lifelong friends when they both played together at Cerritos College and then onto Fresno State as players then as coaches.

Those same memories I have as a kid, I’m sure both Taylor and Quinn share as well. We went everywhere together from Hawaii, to Disneyland, to Bowl games, banquets etc. Taylor and I were separated in school by one year and attended Valley Oak Elementary together, so we grew up during those years as great friends and we grew up in a very similar fashion from moving around, understanding the highs and lows from being a coach’s kid(s), and playing and coaching for our father in college.

The crazy part is, my first college game as a true freshman at Sacramento State, coached by my dad, was against Cal. And they had a juggernaut of talent on that roster that included Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, true freshman DeSean Jackson and Central Valley great Zack Follet (Clovis High) among many others. And they were ironically coached by? Jeff Tedford. The history with coach Tedford and his family runs pretty deep and goes back long before I was born. I think that's a big reason we're so excited for the future of Fresno State football because we know that not only Coach Tedford and his family shared those unbelievable years in Fresno, they share the same love and passion for the Central Valley and Bulldog Football as we all do.

BB: Did you guys immediately reach out to Tedford the moment he came back to FS? What was that conversation like? 

BM: Yes and no. My dad has kept in touch with coach Tedford throughout the years and had been catching up while JT was at the University of Washington last season. When the job came open, I'm sure we all hoped that an alum with ties to the Central Valley would be the one FS hired next. We knew how swarmed JT would be when he got the job, but my dad sent him a text congratulating him and sharing his excitement for the future. Once things slowed down a little bit and the season ended, both coach Tedford and my dad spoke more about the future of the program and the direction in which coach Tedford was leaning toward in his philosophy going into recruiting.

BB: Go deep into the relationship FS is trying to build with VC, because it sounds like FS is going to rely heavily on you guys in the JC realm. 

I wouldn't necessarily say they are only trying to build a relationship with Ventura College as much as they want to rebuild relationships with Junior College recruiting in general. The convenience and trust is a big reason why VC is at the forefront of that process. Having my dad as the head coach here who has coached in both the Northern and Southern divisions of CA JUCOs provides coach Tedford and his staff a valuable insight into our program and players but more importantly, into the state JC talent. Tedford and his staff can always call us at VC for honest opinions and evaluations on players from all state JCs considering my dad is a member of both the competition committee and a member of the coaches who select the All-State and All-Region teams in California. 

BB: Would you guys say your relationship with FS is a lot better now compared to the last regime? 

BM: In many ways, it has gotten better, but that’s expected when your former QB, colleague and friend gets the job. Obviously, it's going to be more personal. Honestly, coach Tim DeRuyter is a fantastic defensive mind and a wonderful man and football coach. He did many great things at FS and my father and I would never discount his effort, desire and intention to build Fresno State Football. He came to visit our campus before, recruited our program and built relationships with my dad, but each coach has their own philosophy and that philosophy is usually developed from their own experiences. When TD was at Texas A&M, I'd have to say that their need to recruit JC players wasn't very high of a priority. In the SEC and most Power Five conferences, you aren't looking for as many immediate plug and play recruits as you would be at other conference affiliated programs compared to the non-P5 conferences. I must add that it isn't necessarily the amount of JC players you take, but it does matter on which ones you take and then making sure your evaluation adds up to the results.

Fresno State was built on recruiting guys who were overlooked, guys hungry for success and guys who needed the extra year or two of development that the junior college offers. Coach TD’s recruiting network stemmed more toward the out of state high school and JC’s, which is fine and works well at many places. But FS is a unique program that prides itself on community and support from its alumni, so when your staff is made up of coaches from Texas, Ohio, and various other places who don't have Central Valley or California ties, it gets frustrating. Especially when you mix it together with watching talented Valley/California prep and JUCO players with the DESIRE to play at Fresno State, only to get passed on. Watching those athletes move away and succeeding like we thought only to contribute to one of our conference members or opponents? That, in itself, became the most disheartening thing to see. 

BB: What’s your take on the staff Tedford has hired?

BM: Coach Tedford hired an unbelievable staff with a great mix and balance of the state high school and JC recruiting systems. Additionally, he also hired coaches who can flat out recruit in general and who will have no problem being able to pull a kid out of Boise, Reno, Fort Collins or any other city and state as well. He hired coaches with direct ties to Bulldog Football like Scott Thompson, J.D. Williams and Jamie Christian to name a few. The staff is made up of guys who can coach and recruit to the highest of levels. I actually got the opportunity to play for coach Christian when my dad hired him as the RB coach at Sacramento State, and I'll never forget him pulling me aside in the locker room one day and passionately ripping into me urging me to do better while then offering solutions to get better. His ability to pull the most out of his players while showing them how much he cares for you as an athlete but even more as a person is priceless. I know he's a guy who players will want to run through a brick wall for and that's what I think coach Tedford was looking for in everyone he hired. 

BB: How jacked up are the VC players about the building pipeline between VC and Fresno State?

Thrilled to say the least. Many of our players are California residents and we have quite a few who are from the Central Valley (Ventura College recently got Erick Kroll of Clovis North, whose father played at FS when Tedford was an assistant). Some grew up as Fresno State fans and most know FS from the many greats who moved on to the NFL; especially Derek Carr and Devante Adams. They are very familiar with our FS ties and we get asked weekly about wanting to move on and play there. Our guys hear the stories, they understand the unique atmosphere of the Central Valley and they know how it's filled with a rare energy that flows throughout like the San Joaquin River once did. But unlike the river, there's no drought that could possibly dry up that ‘Red Wave’ that engulfs the region.

We're obviously very excited to see how our former players and new Bulldog recruits Logun "Gunner" Javernick and WR/RB Brian Burt perform this fall. We are committed to helping FS football return to the level we all know it should be and we know at a place like that, there is no ceiling. Whether coach Tedford signs 10 of our players or none of them, we will continue to be a valuable source of information for all of their California JUCO needs. I know that it may not happen in year one or two, but I think it very well could and I am 100% sure that coach Tedford and his staff will take the Bulldogs and that fan base 'back to the future.’

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