Fresno State fall camp: JC transfer Burrell seizes opportunity in Carr’s absence

Bulldogs have ‘physical’ first practice in full pads

There were a lot of “thuds” heard during Fresno State’s Tuesday morning practice.

Tuesday was the first time this season the Bulldogs practiced in full pads – one that continued a streak of physical practices, coach Tim DeRuyter said.

And, with starter/new father Derek Carr absent from practice for the second day in a row, the fall practice also seemed to mark the beginning traction in the three-way race between junior Brian Burell, redshirt freshman Myles Carr and true freshman Zack Greenlee for the backup quarterback spot.

Burrell, a junior-college transfer, has been taking most of the first-team reps with the offense in Derek’s absence.

He’s also been making his case.

“I told the guys I thought Brian probably shined the most,” DeRuyter said. “Our team periods are where the most stress happens. They all look good in 7-on-7 when there’s not a lot of pressure. But you get into team periods when the defense is blitzing. I thought Brian handled that the best today.”

Greenlee – part of Fresno State’s 2013 recruiting class and highly touted coming out of Lincoln-Stockton High School – is the only quarterback in the backup hunt who did not have the benefit of participating in spring practices, but did partake in voluntary summer workouts and player-run practices before the start of fall camp.

Myles Carr (not related to Derek)  is in a familiar position. Last preseason, he was in a three-way competition with Greg Watson (who converted to wide receiver) and Marcus McDade (who is no longer with the team) for the backup quarterback spot.

Fresno State has 23 more practices before its Aug. 29 season opener at Bulldog Stadium against Rutgers to find a sure backup who exhibits the consistency in performance the Bulldogs coaching staff is searching for.

“Today, all three quarterbacks were a little bit like popcorn,” DeRuyter said. “A play here, play there, play everywhere – but not enough consistency.”

While there was forward progress in the backup quarterback position, there was, understandably, a drop off in the first-team offense’s production without the reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year taking snaps behind center.

Derek and his wife Heather welcomed their first child on Monday.

DeRuyter said before the start of fall camp that Derek could take “however long he needs to be with his family,” and offered his congratulations to the couple on Twitter.

He also views this as a blessing in disguise.

“Offensively, we’re not as productive or as efficient when Derek’s not here,” DeRuyter said. “You lose a guy who is the returning [Mountain West] Conference Player of the Year, there’s going to be some kind of a drop off.

“But overall and development-wise, I hate to say it, [but] it’s probably the best thing that could’ve happened.  If Derek wants a week off or 10 days off, it would be great for us because we know what Derek’s going to bring to us. He’s going to come in here and not skip a beat. The extra time that these guys are getting developmental wise id good for them.”

And DeRuyter had one bit of advice on fatherhood for his starting quarterback: “Take care of Mama. If Mama’s happy, then everybody’s happy. Make sure you take care of Heather. I know he is. Just really happy for them and hope everything’s working out great.”

Fresno State will continue its fall camp practices on Wednesday – the first scheduled two-a-days for the team.