|Signing Day Press Conference Interviews|
|Head Coach Tim DeRuyter
Feb. 5, 2014
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State head football coach Tim DeRuyter announced the Bulldogs of tomorrow, as Wednesday he unveiled 22 members in his 2014 recruiting class on National Signing Day.
DeRuyter's third signing class at Fresno State is one built off the successes of back-to-back Mountain West championships and is one designed to help the Bulldogs win more championships in the future.
"Clearly this is by far the best athleticism and length of a class that we have signed," DeRuyter said. "We are looking to bring in raw, long, athletic bodies and with the best strength coach in the country in Joey Boese, develop these guys into championship caliber athletes. I think we've done that with this year's class.
"Sometimes people want to ask you are you excited with this particular postion group or that one, but I really like our entire class. I believe that this core group of guys could be the nucleus of a championship run two or three years from now and keep us going, so I'm really excited about these guys."
For the coaching staff, this group is also one that addresses depth at key positions in the systems run under DeRuyter.
"We're really, really pleased with filling the needs that we anticipated going in," DeRuyter said.
Three of those areas were at offensive line, in the secondary and at linebacker.
Fresno State was able to sign five offensive lineman that all come in after decorated prep careers and are an athletic group having played other sports.
"We knew we had to sign some offensive linemen and the five we signed, we are really, really pleased with the depth as well as the ability there," DeRuyter said.
Ben Simonds (La Quinta, Calif./La Quinta HS) is an Olympic weight lifter who made the USA World team, won the Youth National weightlifting competition as well as the Junior Nationals and is a possible fit at center. There is Art Gomez (Compton, Calif./Downey HS) and Bobby Johnson (Carson, Calif./Carson HS) who are both offensive tackle-type players.
Jacob Hicks (Sebastopol, Calif.) is a guard-type body who was a two-time league lineman of the year at Analy High School. Then there is Aaron Mitchell, one of three players in the class the Bulldogs signed out of the highly-successful Cathedral Catholic High School program in San Diego.
To address the two need ares on the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs inked four linebackers and four defensive backs in addition to Stratton Brown, who transferred from Snow College at the beginning of the semester.
"Looking at the defensive side, secondary wise was a big concern for us and to be able to get four defensive backs that we think are highly skilled players that are going to have a chance to come in and compete, some of them right away," DeRuyter said.
Corey Ferguson (Orlando, Fla.) is the only junior college player that signed with the Bulldogs Wednesday, coming from Fullerton College.
Two of the other defensive backs, Tank Kelly (Galena Park, Texas/Galena Park HS) and Malcolm Washington (Houston, Texas/Alief Elsik HS) are both athletes that were used all over the field in their high school careers. The fourth defensive back to sign Wednesday was DeShawn Potts out of Duarte, Calif. (Monrovia HS).
With the graduation of two inside linebackers and one outside, Fresno State went out and got four linebackers help to address immediate depth needs at the positions.
"Then at the linebacker position, signing four linebackers that are going to be outstanding prospects helped us," DeRuyter added when talking about filling needs on the defensive side of the ball.
Michael Lazarus (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley HS) had 18 sacks his senior season in high school. He is one of three projected inside backers along with Tobenna Okeke (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins HS) and Xavier Ulutu (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic HS).
The fourth linebacker projected to play outside is Justin Green out of Oak Park [Calif.] High School. Green once accounted for five total turnovers in a single game his senior year in high school
Up front on the defensive line, Fresno State replaced three graduating seniors with Sam Akoteu (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra HS) and Kyle Hendrickson (Escondido, Calif./San Pasqual HS). With the five defensive lineman signed last year, the Bulldogs are set with good depth up front.
"To be able to get two defensive lineman that we really feel good about," DeRuyter said. "They are good motor guys and guys that may be able to play this year, but will definitely play for us in the future."
After losing Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse, who rank No. 1 and No. 3 in the school record books for career receptions, Fresno State signed three wide receivers in this class to add more playmakers to its potent spread offense.
"You look at us losing a couple of really good wide receivers, we got some highly skilled guys coming in that are going to have a chance to compete right away," DeRuyter said. "Then at the tight end position, we signed a pair that may have to play this fall, but really have big upsides and we are excited about those guys."
All three wide receivers have experience as punt and kick returners and the coaching staff liked their skill set that they bring to this offense, as they have the ability to make people miss in space. Keyan Williams (New Orleans, La./Lusher Charter HS) is the son of former Bulldogs receivers coach Keith Williams. Joining him is KeeSean Johnson, who comes from the same Palo Alto [Calif.] High School that Adams graduated from and Jamire Jordan (Palmdale, Calif./Highland HS), who the coaches believe can be a dynamic slot receiver like Burse was.
With the receivers and tight ends signed, the Bulldogs also added a quarterback in Kilton Anderson to deliver them the ball. Anderson spent his first three prep seasons in Naples, Fla. before playing his senior year at Skyline High School in Sammamish, Wash.
"Every year we are going to recruit a quarterback and try keep four on scholarship," DeRuyter said. "Signing Kilton Anderson, I thought coach [Dave] Schramm did a great job of scouring the country to find him. He fits physically what we are looking for, an athletic young guy with a good arm who can beat you with his arm as well as his legs."
The final player of the class, athlete Chris Moliga, is a two-way star and the third player of the class from San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High School.
"Chris Moliga is a guy as an athlete we're not sure where he is going to fit, he is a two-way guy at running back and a safety/outside linebacker type of guy that is just a football player," DeRuyter said. "We're excited about him."
Fresno State did not use all 25 of its available scholarships, leaving future options open this spring.
"We are going to keep a couple of scholarships open this spring," he said. "As we go through spring ball and identify potential new needs as well as possibly having one open for transfers."
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