The top headline of Fresno State's 2014 spring practices will undoubtedly be the quarterback competition. For the first time since the spring of 2009, Fresno State enters the spring without a starting quarterback. Head coach Tim DeRuyter has said that a starter will likely not be named until after the opening weeks of fall camp, but the spring will offer the best look so far at the quarterbacks who have waited patiently behind Derek Carr.
Brian Burrell earned the back-up spot last fall after months of speculation. He doesn't have the strongest arm or the fastest speed, though he certainly has a solid combination of both. At 6-foot-4, 219 lbs he isn't afraid to take contact when he leaves the pocket. Burrell got the nod as the back-up QB last season based on his experience and consistency. Will the same principles land him the starting job? Burrell led Bakersfield College to a state championship before making his way to Fresno State and will look to continue the Bulldogs' recent success.
Myles Carr was the third-string for the 2013 team. When the Bulldogs took big leads over opponents this past season, there were two times where both Burrell and Carr got the opportunity to take game reps. Myles Carr has the legs to be a difference maker outside of the pocket though he will have to prove a polished all-around game this spring to make a serious push at the starting job. Carr came to Fresno State from Arcadia High School in Tim DeRuyter's first recruiting class. It was Carr's only FBS offer and he took the opportunity.
Zack Greenlee spent last season as a redshirt. Though Bulldog fans didn't get to see him in reserve time, he impressed the coaches on the practice field and earned the offense's scout team player of the year award. If he continues to progress this spring, he could prove why he was the most highly regarded recruit of the three Bulldogs competing for the starting job. Greenlee was selected to the Elite 11 and participated in the Under Armour All-America Game. Despite the accolades, Fresno State got Greenlee's commitment early and he stayed committed despite late pushes from BCS schools.
Fresno State must replace two of the Mountain West's premier receivers from the 2013 season in Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse. The Bulldogs do return Josh Harper and Greg Watson. Harper will be limited for spring practice, which may not be a bad thing in the long run as it will get more reps to the younger receivers battling for playing time.
Two receivers from Tim DeRuyter's first recruiting class, Aaron Peck and Justin Johnson, both enter their junior seasons. After Harper's injury, Johnson played the remainder of the San Jose State game while Peck took the reps in the Bulldogs' final two games. The two receivers showed flashes in their playing time, but need to polish their games this spring to hold off a talented group of underclassmen.
Fresno State brought in four receivers in the class of ‘13 though there was just no room for them in the rotation. The top prospect, Da'Mari Scott was too talented to keep sidelined with a redshirt and occasionally found his way onto the field as a kick returner and reserve receiver. Delvon Hardaway also impressed the coaches in practice and projects as solid all-around receiver with enough reps. Redshirt freshman Darrell Fuery has impressive top-end speed. After his redshirt season, junior college transfer Devonn Brown will get a chance in the slot to prove how he put up impressive JC statistics at just 5-foot-8, 143 lbs.
The Bulldogs lose a key starter on the offensive line at left tackle in Austin Wentworth. Alex Fifita will get the first shot to replace him. Fifita is the lone o-line reserve from the 2013 team that had logged significant playing time and first team practice reps. Fifita started games at right tackle and right guard over the past two seasons. Also watch for David Patterson to make a push into the rotation. The 6-foot-4, 290 lbs redshirt freshman is currently slotted behind Justin Northern at right tackle. The Bulldogs have another position to fill on the line at center and have some versatility with returning guard Bo Bonnheim who has experience snapping the ball.
Whether it was due to a talented cast of receivers or the overall offensive scheme, even the potentially NFL-bound athlete Marcel Jensen had trouble getting looks at tight end last season. Fresno State will get a chance to see if Jerin McClendon can make an impact this spring. At 6-foot-8, 258 lbs, he poses many of the same matchup problems that Jensen was able to.
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