Apr 25, 2019

Hill recruits defensive speed, O-line

18 new Bulldogs should give Fresno State more pass rush and new looks

It may be head coach Pat Hill’s smallest recruiting class in numbers, but the 14-year leader of the Bulldogs believes the newcomers will bring a new dynamic to the team.

In an effort to become more unpredictable on defense, Hill has opted to bring in players that could provide multiple looks on third down—an emphasis in the offseason.

The team will be experimenting with new nickel packages on defense this season on obvious passing downs. The new defenses will most likely consist of the standard nickel defense which consists of four defensive lineman, two linebackers and five defensive backs, the 3-3-5 or the 2-4-5.

“Our goal is to go from being a good football program to a great football program,” Hill said. “I think over the last three years we’re starting to put together the parts that give us a chance to really do some new things offensively and defensively.”

The incoming defensive class is built around players who are capable of both rushing the passer or playing in coverage, an asset which the team is hoping to use to confuse offenses by not using just pass-rushing specialists.

The offense has already compiled of a lot of speed and talent at the skill positions. But departures along the offensive line were fresh on Hill’s mind on the recruiting trail.

The 2011 class features three long, athletic offensive lineman.

The football team has brought in 18 new players to join the team. Of the 18 players that joined the team, 17 played high school football in California. The lone player from out of state is Arizona offensive lineman John Archuleta, who played alongside a pair of the highest recruiting lineman in the country.

Last year’s recruiting class featured plenty of players at both wide receiver and in the defensive secondary. Hill signed wide receiver Davante Adams and defensive back Devontae Butler, but key losses offensively and defensively up front forced Hill to target a new look for the Bulldogs in the coming years.

“Developing talent in the defensive line with a real emphasis on speed—explosive, quickness and speed. [We wanted] long arms and an ability to run,” Hill said.

The Bulldogs also landed a handful of linebackers in attempt to fill a vacancy left by All-Western Athletic Conference linebacker Ben Jacobs. In order to accommodate the use of multiple looks, Hill targeted a class of linebackers he feels can both defend against the pass and provide a steady pass rush.

“In the linebacker corps we felt it was really a necessity to go out and find the types of linebackers that not only can play in space and reroute receivers, but can also put their hand in the dirt or be used in pass rush packages.”

The class also features a trio of players from the Valley, including Clovis West defensive end Donavon Lewis, Redwood running back Dillon Root and Ridgeview linebacker Kyrie Wilson. Wilson was recruited heavily by Oregon, but landed in the Bulldogs’ hands after the Ducks rescinded their offer.

Hill was unable to determine exactly which players would make an immediate impact, but did say that this class is just another step in the direction the program needs to go toward.

“This class is just another extension of what we’re trying to do to make our football program more competitive with the competition that we’re going to be playing against,” Hill said.

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