Oct. 5, 1999
by Chris Ruiz, Fresno State Media Relations
Fresno State quarterback Billy Volek is a changed man.
In the previous year, Volek?s life as a football player and as a person has undergone a transformation. Prior to this season, Bulldogs? head coach Pat Hill handed the 1999 team to Billy Volek. After sharing starting duties the past two seasons, Volek is now the man to lead Fresno State to the next level.
If the pressure of guiding an up-and-coming Division I football program wasn?t enough, soon Volek will be guiding his own family. During the offseason, Volek married former Bulldog equestrian standout Kerri File, who is carrying their first child, due around the time Fresno State faces San Jose State Nov. 20.
"I?ve become a different person since we got married," Volek said. "She?s made me a better person. I?m more focused in everything I do now."
Hill saw the changes in Volek immediately.
"With responsibility comes maturity," Hill said. "Billy?s life has changed and he?s made some changes himself. He?s dedicated himself to his family and is now more focused on football."
Some of that added focus can be credited to the fact Volek knows this is his team. Last year, Volek and junior David Carr shared duties at the quarterback position. With Carr redshirting this season, Volek has the confidence of the coaching staff and his teammates.
"It?s good knowing if I make a mistake, I?m not going to get pulled," Volek said. "That was one of the most frustrating things about last year."
"This is Billy?s team," Hill said. "Two years ago, it was Michael Pittman?s team. Last year it was Jamie Kimbrough?s. Billy has added some strength to his arm during the offseason and we intend to use it. He is going to have the time to mold this offense into a winner and then the following season it will be David Carr?s to take over."
Volek?s notoriety this year is something new. He had gone relatively unnoticed the past two seasons after putting up some impressive statistics. His breakout year came in 1997 when he completed 56 percent of his passes (178-318), threw for 1,853 yards and connected for 17 touchdowns. In only his fourth collegiate start, Volek threw for 288 yards in an overtime loss to Oregon.
He put on a repeat performance in 1998, adding more quality numbers. The Fresno native improved on his passing efficiency, finishing second in the Western Athletic Conference with a rating of 131.7. In addition, he passed for 1,973 yards with 10 touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions. He also had his best game as a Bulldog last season against Texas Tech when he threw for a career-best 349 yards, the most passing yards a quarterback has thrown for in a single-game since 1996. With returning numbers like that, its no wonder Volek was selected by the media as the WAC?s preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
With Fresno State relying on the passing game more this season, Volek?s numbers are sure to improve. And with some young but matured standout receivers, Volek will have the chance to emerge as one of the nation?s top quarterbacks.
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