I didn’t see him until the very end. It couldn’t be him, I thought, as if the hoodie, dreadlocks and the “BEAST MODE” sweater didn’t give it away.
Even Fresno State starting quarterback Marcus McMaryion was surprised to see the Super Bowl winner.
“I kind of just looked over my shoulder, and it’s kind of cool he came out here to support [‘Dogs head coach Jeff] Tedford” McMaryion said.
Luckily, some of the other reporters with better cameras captured Marshawn Lynch as he was conversing with some of the Bulldogs, including freshman running back Ronnie Rivers.
Lynch played for Tedford back in 2004, when he became one of the best players in the country during his three-year stint with the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears.
Lynch might’ve caused a stir, but the Bulldog defense seized the spotlight.
For some, including myself, Orlando Steinauer’s departure in late February posed some questions about the team’s fortunes on the defensive side of the ball.
Those questions were answered Saturday.
Even though it’s only spring, you could tell this team is energized. Defensive back Juju Hughes spoke to reporters after the game, and the energy emanating from the player was infectious.
When asked if the defense won the scrimmage, Hughes did his best to stay fair, but being a defensive player swayed his opinion.
“You know I’m always going to give it to the defense. You know I’m a biased guy. You can’t ask me that,” Hughes said jokingly. “Both teams went out and played good today.”
Newly appointed defensive coordinator Bert Watts told me in the past about the excitement and energy he plans to bring to the team, and it’s showing. The Bulldogs were flying to the ball, whether in the backfield or the secondary. The unit was in midseason form.
Not to mention linebacker Tanner Rice who almost scored a touchdown after he picked off Jorge Reyna just outside the red zone.
For some on the defense, like Clovis North graduate Jasad Haynes, the Spring Preview provided an opportunity to take first-team reps on a consistent basis.
“I feel really good, man. We put in a lot of work from the start of spring until now,” Haynes said. “I feel like my role changed a lot. I was second string last year, and now they want me to step up in the starting role.”
Although, it wouldn’t be fair to give the defense all the credit.
Reyna did lead a touchdown drive as well as did McMaryion, who continued to show his ability both throwing and running the football.
McMaryion pushed the ball downfield with accuracy and also ran the ball when needed.
In terms of his development, McMaryion points to comfort in the offense as his goal moving forward.
“I don’t know if you guys could tell, but as far as the checks go, just being comfortable in the offense and getting the offense in a good position to execute a play is the next step I have taken, I would say,” McMaryion said.
It sure didn’t look like a spring game. The intensity level was high all morning.
The day wasn’t only about the players. A few fans were fortunate to participate in some on-field activities. The passing competition had contestants toss the football into certain targets at a distance, and the kicking competition gave contestants a chance to test their ability to hit the football through the goalposts.
The most entertaining part came before the competition when Tedford dusted off that former Fresno State quarterback arm and hit a target – I was impressed.
Overall, a fun and exciting day for Bulldog football, though I wish I’d got a photo with Lynch.