Fall Camp Preview: Specialists

Smith made his return last year vs. CSU.

Fresno State is known nationally for its special team play. Last season was by far the worst performance in Coach Pat Hill's 10 years. The Bulldogs return everyone save long snapper Ken Amendola and holder Jordan Christensen. The unit has much to prove in fall camp.

Sr. K Clint Stitser (6-1, 200) does not look like your average kicker. Pound for pound, he is one of the strongest players on the team. He was a Lou Groza Award finalist his first year (2005) as the starter despite missing half the season with an injury. He returned last season but had a subpar year.

Stitser had an okay spring. His leg strength was unbelievable but his accuracy was a bit inconsistent. Throughout spring and summer, he did not miss a workout. However, he is breaking in a new long-snapper, Greg Titiriga (6-3, 255) and holder, QB Ryan Colburn or P Robert Malone, (6-2, 215). These are positions most take for granted. These three must come together in fall camp.

Sr. P/K Kyle Zimmerman (5-11, 200) has been a lifesaver the last two seasons. He filled in for Stitser in 2005 and played well down the stretch. Last season, the ‘Dogs lost both of their punters to injury, and Zimmerman was one of the few bright spots on special teams last season.

Zimmerman shared punting duties with Malone during spring. However, he is expected to punt this season allowing Malone to redshirt to preserve three years of eligibility.

Sr. RB Clifton Smith (5-8, 190) is the most dynamic punt returner in school history. He set an NCAA record in 2005 vs. Weber State with three returns for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged over 54 yards per punt heading into last season. He made his 2006 debut in the fourth game of the season but was not completely healthy. Subsequently, his amazing average and season went down the drain, leaving him with one year of eligibility.

Smith is expected to handle punt and kick return duties in fall camp. He could be relieved of kick return duties with an increased role on offense this season. Regardless, he has extreme pressure on his shoulders to return to his pre-injury form in camp.

So. WR Chastin West (6-1, 215) became a capable kick returner last year. He returned a kick 93 yards at Boise State but faster, shiftier players could replace him in fall camp.

True freshman WR Devon Wylie (5-10, 180) has 4.4 speed and he was an amazing kick returner in high school. He has been compared to former Bulldog Adam Jennings and will have every opportunity to win the job in fall camp.

So. WR Marlon Moore (6-1, 180), Fr. WR Jamel Hamler (6-1, 185), and true frosh athlete Tim Lang (6-0, 190) could also see looks in camp at kick returner.


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