Spring Ball: What to Expect on Defense

Fresno State kicks off spring practice today at 3:20 in the afternoon. Defensively, the ‘Dogs must replace some of the biggest pieces of the puzzle, DE Tyler Clutts and WLB Marcus Riley. And with injuries taking their toll last season, some of the projected starters are expected to sit out this spring.

Defensive Line -- DT Jon Monga will lead what may be WAC's best defensive line. Wilson Ramos moved to DE after injuries depleted the unit, he could move back inside if needed. NT Cornell Banks is a beast when he plays all out. Throw Mark Roberts in the picture and the ‘Dogs have experienced depth in the middle. Redshirt freshman DT Bryce Harris is the wildcard. The 6-6 standout is close to 300 lbs now and could carry as much as 340 lbs on his frame without affecting his quickness.

DE Jason Roberts is still recovering from the leg injury that caused him to miss most of last season. DE Ikenna Ike returned in the bowl game after missing half the season with a wrist injury. He is the ‘Dogs best pure pass rusher. Chris Carter and Ken Borg were pleasant surprises as true freshman last season. Michael Stuart showed some signs last season he can be an effective DE.

Linebackers -- If losing Marcus Riley is not bad enough, backup Ryan Machado will miss spring while recovering from a knee injury. That leaves walk-on Nick Bates as the default option at WLB. Ben Jacobs has the middle locked up. Quaadir Brown returns at SLB, but he is capable of playing WLB. Sr. Ryan McKinley can play all three spots but has never been healthy in his Bulldog career thus far. So. Nico Herron has a chance to shine with the lack of depth ahead of him.

Secondary -- CB Damion Owens returns after having solid sophomore campaign. He is joined by fellow junior A.J. Jefferson, who was an All-American last season as a kick returner. Sr. CB Sharrod Davis is expected to challenge for the starting spot opposite Owens. CB Will Harding was granted a medical hardship and returns for one more season. Redshirt freshmen Isaiah Green and Jermaine Thomas add speedy depth.

FS Marvin Haynes and SS Moses Harris are the incumbents. Sr. Jake Jorde will backup both while SS Lorne Bell recovers from a knee injury suffered last season versus Kansas State. Redshirt freshman Zak Hill can play either safety spot as well as WLB if needed. Phillip Thomas is expected to back up at safety after sitting out last fall.


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