A yearâ€™s worth of work on the recruiting trails all culminated Wednesday for Fresno Stateâ€™s football program as Coach Pat Hill announced the 22 high school recruits that will be joining the Bulldog football team.
The Fresno State coaching staff began looking at a list of approximately 1,100 high school athletes a year ago and narrowed the recruiting class down to the 22 athletes that signed official letters of intent Wednesday. Hill feels like this is one of his strongest recruiting classes in 12 years as head coach and is proud that six of his recruits are San Joaquin Valley products.
â€œWeâ€™ll always be in the San Joaquin Valley,â€ Hill said. â€œBakersfield to Sacramento is our number one area.â€
This year’s recruiting class focused heavily on the offensive and defensive line positions. Of the 22 recruits in this yearâ€™s class, 12 are expected to play on either the offensive or defensive line for the Bulldogs.
Both of those position groups are going to be losing many impact players after next seasonâ€™s 2008 campaign including starting defensive tackle Jon Monga and starting offensive linemen Cole Popovich and Bobby Lepori.
â€œThe offensive line next year is one of the needs we needed to address because next year itâ€™s going to be mostly seniors,â€ Hill said.
While the team seems to have plenty of depth, the coaches must still prepare for injuries while recruiting. Unlike the NFL, a college teamâ€™s roster is set in the summer, well before the season begins in college football.
â€œOnce you set your 105-man roster here at Fresno State, youâ€™re at 105 whether they get injured or not. By the end of the year , I think we had 72 live bodies,â€ Hill said. â€œItâ€™s a very unforgiving sport and you have to be very careful how you pick your scholarships.â€
This yearâ€™s class includes many electrifying and explosive players, but no player has generated more excitement than Ebahn Feathers. Feathers, out of Washington Union High School, is a Fresno product and is expected to play quarterback in the future for the Bulldogs. However, he could have a significant role in the offense as early as next season.
â€œWeâ€™ve got plenty of things [Feathers] can do year one and weâ€™re going to use him,â€ Hill said.
While most quarterback recruits are expected to redshirt and learn during their first year in a program, Feathers may see time as a tailback, wide receiver or running quarterback.
Hill even felt he could even be used as a situational drop-back passer with starting quarterback Tom Brandstater lining up as a decoy wide receiver.
â€œI think heâ€™s going to be really, really exciting,â€ Hill Said.
At Washington High, Feathers was a dual-threat quarterback racking up over 4,000 total yards of offense, with 24 rushing and 24 passing touchdowns as a senior.
Hill stressed that Feathers was not recruited just because of his running skills, but also because of his abilities as a passer by referring to him as a â€œpure thrower.â€
â€œHeâ€™s not only a special talent on the field, heâ€™s a special person and a leader,â€ Hill said.
This class is expected to have some players who can make an immediate impact on the field, but the coaching staff must now wait and see if their hard work on the recruiting trail has paid off.
High school recruits must wait until official summer workouts to begin practicing with the squad.