Juan Villa / The Collegian
Tom Brandstater isnâ€™t the only player on the Fresno State football team that can throw the football around.
Tim Lang, Bear Pascoe, Tyler Clutts and Jason Crawley all have something in common: They all played quarterback in high school.
But Fresno State head coach Pat Hill didnâ€™t bring them to Fresno State for their passing abilities.
And it is not uncommon in the college ranks for high school quarterbacks to change their position for the sake of their college teams.
Lang and Crawley are now receivers. Pascoe plays tight end, while Clutts isnâ€™t even on offense now â€” heâ€™s a defensive end.
â€œWhen you recruit, you canâ€™t look at what position they play,â€ Hill said. â€œThe odds are heâ€™s going to be reassigned to a different position once he gets here.â€
For a high school, the chances of getting talented athletes depend on the size and location because of the bar on recruiting.
The bigger the school, the better chance there is that a student will come through that has athletic talent.
When there isnâ€™t much talent, which can happen when there is a small student body, a coach will put the best athletes in skills positions like quarterback or running back to help and carry the team.
Since coaches can recruit at the college level, they can go out and look for the best athletes they can find.
The athletes that they are looking for might have played quarterback at the prep level based solely on the fact that there was no one else at their school who could play the position.
When Hill is recruiting, he canâ€™t just compare a player to others at that position â€” he compares them to everyone on the field.
â€œWhen we recruit, some of the things you look for are athleticism, speed, balance and explosiveness,â€ Hill said. â€œYou see that a lot in high school quarterbacks.â€
Because Hill recruits players based on factors that are skill-related, and not necessarily the position they play, Hill liked what he saw in Crawley.
â€œWe saw him play on the volleyball team in high school and we were impressed,â€ Hill said. â€œThat to me showed that he had a lot of athleticism.â€
Getting a former quarterback to play at another position could be difficult, but Hill hasnâ€™t had any problem with it so far.
All players, Hill said, come to Fresno State knowing that they can end up playing another position.
â€œWeâ€™re pretty honest with them,â€ Hill said. â€œWeâ€™ve never had a player come here that wasnâ€™t open to changing positions.â€
In Pascoeâ€™s case, the transition didnâ€™t happen until the spring of his redshirt season.
Pascoe, who played quarterback at Granite Hills High School, came to Fresno State in hopes of playing quarterback.
That season, four-year starter Paul Pinegar was a junior and Pascoe ran the scout offense.
Due to injuries and the number of graduating seniors, Hill asked Pascoe if he was willing to change positions.
â€œHe made it my choice,â€ Pascoe said. â€œIt was either change positions or be the backup quarterback for at least another two years. I think I made the right choice.â€
â€œIn a perfect world, we would be three deep at every position,â€ Hill said. â€œWhen someone gets hurt, you just put in the No. 2 guy. What happens though is players are shifted around and change positions because of the lack of depth.â€
After becoming successful at quarterback, it takes time for a player to get into the rhythm of a new position.
â€œItâ€™s a learning curve,â€ Hill said. â€œWe just hope as time goes on that they can continue to grow and to get better.â€
Pascoe has been a fast learner. This season, he leads the team with 332 receiving yards and has four touchdowns.
â€œIt was rough at first,â€ Pascoe said, who has now been playing tight end for four years.
â€œYouâ€™re going from a finesse position to one where you have to block and catch,â€ he said. â€œAs time goes on, Iâ€™ve become more comfortable in my new position though. Iâ€™ve enjoyed it down in the trenches.â€
That comfort is noticed by Hill, too.
â€œItâ€™s impressive. In four years of playing the position, Bear has become one of the best tight ends in the nation,â€ he said.
While Pascoe has had time to grow into his position, because of injuries to starters, Langâ€™s learning curve was shortened.
Lang, a true freshman who went 13-0 while winning the section championship his senior year as the quarterback at Grant High School in Sacramento, is likely to see more playing time because of the depletion of the depth in the receiver position.
â€œFor me, the biggest thing has been learning the playbook,â€ Lang said. â€œWhen I line up now, I have the [cornerback] right in my face. Itâ€™s different.â€
And with a slew of former quarterbacks running around the field, the Bulldogs can benefit since these players can notice things they probably wouldnâ€™t if it wasnâ€™t for their experiences from under the snap.
â€œI understand the quarterbackâ€™s urgency since Iâ€™ve been there,â€ said Clutts, who is now a senior. â€œYou get a feeling when they are going to try and escape, and that helps a lot.â€
Pascoe believes his past experience gives him the edge as a tight end.
â€œIâ€™m able to line up and read the defense because of it,â€ he said. â€œI can read the safeties and I know where [Brandstater] is gonna put the ball. It seems to put us on the same level.â€
â€œI know what the quarterback is looking for,â€ Lang said. â€œI can look at the defense and know what gap to go to. I know where the ball is going.”
Changing positions hasnâ€™t changed much for these former quarterbacks either.
â€œItâ€™s all worked out,â€ Pascoe said. â€œIâ€™ve enjoyed playing tight end.â€
As for Clutts, there is another reason heâ€™s happy with not being a quarterback any more.
â€œIâ€™ve taken my share of hits,â€ Clutts said. â€œItâ€™s my turn to hit somebody.â€