A Welcome Surprise to the Secondary
Aug. 12, 2013
By: Matt Burkholder
FRESNO, Calif.- After losing Sean Alston in spring ball for the season, the secondary knew it had some big shoes to fill. The question remained entering fall camp, who would be that person to step up and take the opportunity.
On Monday morning following the first scrimmage of camp two days ago, an unlikely suspect is continuing to take the first-team reps alongside senior L.J. Jones at the cornerback position at practice No. 12 of fall camp.
Curtis Riley, a 6-1 junior-transfer from Fullerton College, has wowed coaches with his work ethic, capability to absorb the new defense and his natural athletic ability.
"It would really be an understatement to say that he [Riley] is the surprise of camp," said secondary coach David Brown. "He's really stepped up and learned things quickly, he's a smart kid and athletically he's obviously proven what he can do. He's picked off several balls during camp. He's doing a great job for us."
At Monday's practice Riley owned the morning's only interception as he picked off Brian Burrell in a 7-on-7 drill. Burrell bootlegged to his right, looking to find Delvon Hardaway on a comeback route and Riley jumped the route for the pick.
"They [Edwards and Ellis] were here in the spring and Shannon played a lot here as a true freshman so they have some reps behind them," Brown said. "There's still a good competition there, we're building depth with those four guys along with L.J. [Jones]."
Jones brings a wealth of experience to an otherwise inexperienced cornerback unit. He has started 28 consecutive games for the Bulldogs and has played in 36 games during his Bulldog career. While Edwards played in 12-of-13 games as a true freshman at the nickleback spot and Ellis took a redshirt last season.
"Curtis sits next to me in the film room," said Jones. "I let him know what he needs to work on along with Jamal and Shannon. We all take responsibility for each other and understand this is a team game.
The Bulldogs will resume practice at 4 p.m. in shoulder pads and helmets Monday as they will take the field for their second session of the two-a-day. The 'Dogs then return to full pads for practice No. 14 Tuesday morning.
Fresno State will host its only practice session that is open to the public on Friday at 7 p.m. for their second scrimmage of the fall camp in preparation for Rutgers on Aug. 29. Single game tickets are now on sale for both Rutgers and Cal Poly.
"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.