Fresno State Football: Projecting The 2020 Spring Depth Chart
Kalen DeBoer will have a lot of questions to start answering when spring ball begins. Here’s what the Bulldogs two-deep might look like.
A new era brings unique challenges right away.
After being a part of Jeff Tedford’s instant success and then partaking in a brief sojourn to Bloomington, Indiana, Kalen DeBoer is back with the Fresno State Bulldogs as head coach. The ‘Dogs had a down year in 2019, but it isn’t all doom and gloom as they prepare to bounce back.
Plenty of young talent emerged last fall, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but some questions won’t be quite as clear-cut as they were this time last year. What might the depth chart look like when the Bulldogs take the field for spring practice? I make my best guesses and explain my reasoning.
Note: Projected spring first-teamers in italics.
Jake Haener, Jr.
Ben Woolridge, Soph.
Barring any unforeseen transfers or a late addition to the recruiting class, it seems fair to say the job will be Haener’s to lose. I wouldn’t count Woolridge all the way out, though, because he didn’t look overwhelmed in spot duty last fall and, like Jorge Reyna, neither guy comes into 2020 with all that much in-game experience, having combined for 19 career pass attempts between them.
Ronnie Rivers, Sr.
Jordan Mims, Jr.
This, at least, is very straight forward. Rivers is the unquestioned starter and proved he could take on a larger role with aplomb, but Josh Hokit’s role as change-of-pace sledgehammer is up for grabs. I’ll guess that Jordan Mims, who missed 2019 with injury, will begin with the inside track but I’m also planning to keep an eye on Jevon Bigelow, who transferred home from Wyoming and, in 2018, had a slightly lower Opportunity Rate but outpaced Mims in Highlight Yards Per Opportunity with the Cowboys.
Keric Wheatfall, Sr.
Jamal Glaspie, Soph.
Zane Pope, Jr.
Jalen Cropper, Soph.
Emoryie Edwards, Soph.
Josh Kelly, RS Fr.
This projection hedges just a touch because, while it didn’t get as much attention as the offensive line shuffle, eight different receivers received at least one start in 2019. It’s a unit with a massive amount of potential, even if it lacks a big Davante Adams-esque target in its ranks, since this two-deep doesn’t even include Chris Coleman, who was pressed into duty as a cornerback last fall, and former three-star recruits like Patrick Elima-Jeune and Rodney Wright III.
The wild card, as he was last year, is Cropper, who flashed explosiveness that offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb has surely spent all off-season scheming to capitalize upon. Whoever ends up as QB1 is going to have a lot of fun growing with these guys.
Juan Rodriguez, Sr.
Raymond Pauwels Jr., Jr.
Considering the big leap forward that Jared Rice took when DeBoer was the team’s offensive coordinator, it’ll be fascinating to see how this race shakes out. There’s no shortage of options, either, as the current roster lists seven tight ends, and there’s a reality where this depth chart ends up more like 1 and 1A since four different tight ends caught a pass in 2018. Two tight end sets could be a way of offsetting the lack of size at wide receiver, which Tedford and Grubb utilized in last year’s starting lineups. Pauwels Jr., in particular, is someone I’m keeping my eye on after catching 55 passes in his last year at Arizona’s Glendale Community College.
Dontae Bull, Jr.
Alex Akingbulu, Sr.
Jace Fuamatu, Soph.
Bula Schmidt, Soph.
Matt Smith, Sr.
Tyrone Sampson, Soph.
Quireo Woodley, Jr.
Nick Abbs, Sr.
Syrus Tuitele, Sr.
Tim Anderson, Jr.
Last year’s offensive line suffered through a lot of carnage — nine different players made at least one start — so better health luck could help this unit rebound to being one of the Mountain West’s best. It doesn’t even include intriguing prospects like Marc-David Bien-Aime, the Canadian impact who’s the largest lineman on the roster, or incoming freshmen Joseph Church and Julian Polendo, who may get a chance to start earning a rotation spot right away.