From the Rice program: Blue-Collar Bulldog

Nov. 9, 1999

The coal pits of Appalachia, the steel mills of Pittsburgh or the cornfields of Iowa. These are places where solid work ethics are common place, if not tradition. Where solid effort is rewarded and an honest day?s work is the norm. Good, wholesome, nose to the grindstone living.

Shortly after meeting Fresno State tight end Vince Branstetter, many are convinced that the Southern California native hails from not the land of Disney and cellular phones but America?s Heartland.

"I?m more of the blue collar guy," Branstetter said. "I don?t have the fast times or big bench press. I?m just a guy who works hard."

Fresno State should not worry that Branstetter is alone in that department. The Communicative Disorders major believes that he is not alone in the hard working category on this football team.

"A majority of guys out here are blue collar guys," Branstetter said. "Don?t get me wrong, we have our pretty boys like all those [defensive backs] scooting around. But all in all, I think we?re just a bunch a guys who work hard and come together.

"We can appreciate each other real well because most of us come from not the richest of homes. We?ve all had to work really hard for what we get and that shows out on the field."

Coming together is another reason Branstetter believes the Bulldogs are excelling this season. But Branstetter, in his own blue-collar way, is contributing to the Fresno State attack with his four touchdowns ? setting a career high. Branstetter also has claimed one of two Fresno State two-point conversions with one of his five catches versus Nevada. The Bulldog has 21 receptions on the year.

"I don?t have a high number of career starts, but I have a bunch of game experience," Branstetter said.

One aspect where Branstetter does feel experienced in is the talk in the trenches.

"I like to talk a lot in practice because I like to have fun," Branstetter said. "Football is a child?s game, and we?re lucky to be adults playing that game."

But on the field of battle, Branstetter lets the other team start the talk.

"I don?t like to start the yappin', but if I know a guy from somewhere and I bust him, I let him know he?s not getting the better of me," Branstetter said.

San Jose State is a game Branstetter looks forward to because of the natural rivalry the Bulldogs have with the Spartans.

"That?s always a good talking game, Branstetter said. "It takes someone else to start it, but when I see someone else going I?ll get my jaw going."

While his jaw maybe moving, Branstetter relies on his inner toughness to execute his very difficult position. A football hybrid ? part lineman, part receiver ? Branstetter loves both the dirty work in the trenches as well as running routes in the open field.

"I love to catch the ball," Branstetter said. "So far this season I?ve been lucky and have gotten the opportunity to catch a few. But when I first came to Fresno State I thought I was going to catch a lot of balls. It?s a little bit of glory for basically a lineman catching the ball. I like that."

For what ever down it is and no matter how high the stakes are, Vince Branstetter will always return to his blue collar roots and try his best for a little bit of that lineman glory.



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