Aug. 8, 2013
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
|Head Coach Tim DeRuyter
|Defensive Coordinator Nick Toth
|Junior ILB Karl Mickelsen
Mickelsen is a player on the rise in the eyes of the coaching staff. He came to Fresno State in 2011 and as a true freshman played in all 13 games, getting on the field with the various special team units.
As a sophomore in 2012, he appeared in all 13 games and recorded 24 tackles as a backup linebacker. He again was a solid contributor on special teams as a sophomore.
However, since then, Mickelsen has grown from one that is a contributor into one that is now a playmaker and difference maker for the Bulldogs. The reason behind that, according to defensive coordinator Nick Toth, is Mickelsen's maturation.
"He's a great kid, but he wasn't real focused on football when we got here," Toth said about Mickelsen when he and the rest of Tim DeRuyter's staff took over the program in 2012. "He saw himself as a freshman. He didn't see himself, you know with all those old guys that we had his first spring, Travis Brown and all those other guys, he didn't see himself as a guy. Physically, the weight room hadn't been his friend yet.
"If you look at what's happened in a year and a half, No. 1, he's decided and seen that he can be a good football player, he's developed confidence in football. It has become really, really important to him. Then No. 2, the weight room, [strength and conditioning coach] Joey Boese has taken that guy and just gone crazy with him and Karl loves it. So you've seen him physically develop, so as his mental approach to the game developed, his physical approach developed and he started loving playing, he loves playing."
After the strong spring where he emerged at the top of the depth chart, Mickelsen did everything he needed to do over the summer to prepare himself to have a strong fall camp. He got in his playbook, he studied film and he put in the work to prepare his body.
"Getting better at learning the playbook so I know what to do on the field because once you know the whole playbook you can actually play," Mickelsen said was his focus for the summer.
"It's paid off good because it's not only knowing what you are doing, but what the whole defense is doing," he said. "You know what is going to happen on the left side, what is going to happen on the right side, so you know how you are going to react to a play."
Along with Mickelsen's play, head coach Tim DeRuyter really likes what he has seen out of all his inside linebackers in this first week.
"I've really been impressed from spring until now how Karl and Kyrie [Wilson] have really come on," DeRuyter said. "I think that competition is pushing Jeremiah [Toma]. He's looking better than he's looked, so I think we got a really good situation at the inside linebacker position."
Mickelsen also credits Toma and Patrick Su'a, two seniors, for helping develop him and Wilson.
"They have more experience than me and Kyrie so they are kind of like our role models," Mickelsen said. "We look up to them, they even teach us stuff. We learn from our older guys because they are veterans and have a great impact on our play too."
Another special relationship that has helped Mickelsen in his progression as a football player is the one he has with his father, Alfonso, who played safety at BYU.
"I started young too, when I was in like second grade, so he started me early," Mickelsen said. "We'd always have little pep talks, father and son about football. I wish I had his speed because he was way fast back then, but I got [my athleticism] basically from him."
With Mickelsen, Wilson and a strong front in the Toth's 3-4 defense, Fresno State's interior has looked strong in the first week of camp.
The Bulldogs continue on with a two-a-day on Friday and hold their first scrimmage on Saturday that will give Mickelsen and his teammates a chance to further prove themselves out on the field.
"Discover Fresno State Football" - 2013 Fresno State football season tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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