The top 10 Fresno State football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. WR Jamire Jordan
There wasn’t much happening with the Fresno State offense last season, but Jordan was one of the few bright spots with a team-leading 46 catches for 540 yards and five scores. Extremely quick, he was used on kickoff returns, too, and he ran for 55 yards and a score. Really, really fast, he didn’t do enough to stretch the field – quarterback play was a problem with this – and he can cut on a dime. Only 5-10 and 168 pounds, he’s not going to be physical, but he can move. While he only came up with one 100-yard game – catching three passes for 102 yards and a score – he was a steady mid-range target.
2. LB Jeff Camilli
Big for the weak side, the 6-2, 255-pound senior was a key part of the linebacking corps after serving as a key backup. Once he got his chance to take over, he cranked out a big year finishing second on the team with 76 tackles with two picks and two tackles for loss. He didn’t get into the backfield on a regular basis, and he missed a late game against BYU, but he was a big hitter for a big part of the season with a three-game run of 35 tackles and with 14 stops against Air Force. The key mainstay of the run defense, he can play inside or out.
3. CB Tyquwan Glass
Not just a cover-corner, for good and for bad, Glass was one of the team’s leading tacklers finishing fourth on the team with 62 tackles with four picks. At 5-11 and 185 pounds he’s tall and thin, but he can get physical making 12 stops against Nevada and doing a great job in the open field. The pass defense might have been a disaster, and he was beaten more than his share of times, but the JUCO transfer from Mt. San Antonio was one of the only bright spots at times. Now he has to use his experience to be more of a factor to take away No. 1 receivers – he’s got to use his deep speed to prevent the deep ball.
4. LB James Bailey
A safety-sized 6-1 and 202 pounds, he’s a smallish, young linebacker who made a splash in his first in his true freshman season making 47 tackles – finishing seventh on the team – and showing the promise and potential to quickly become an all-star. The talent and upside are there to be a pass rusher if he’s turned loose on the outside, and if he can bulk up a wee bit, he should be a top three tackler doing more against the run.
5. WR Da’Mari Scott
The team’s second-leading receiver, he was one of the few deep ball playmakers averaging 15.17 yards per grab with 24 catches for 364 yards and three scores, with two of the touchdowns coming on a two-catch, 53-yard day against Hawaii. He did more damage as a kickoff returner, averaging over 22 yards per pop. With 6-0, 211-pound size, and good speed, he’s a tough receiver who can make things happen when the ball is in his hands on the move.
6. CB Jamal Ellis
Paired with Tyquwan Glass on the other side, Fresno State’s secondary and pass defense can’t help but be better – as long as the pass rush improves. The 5-10, 179-pound speedster isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty, making 47 tackles and getting into the backfield from time to time making 5.5 tackles for loss. He’s had more than enough time and experience to be more reliable when the ball is in the air after failing to make a pick, but breaking up eight passes.
7. QB Chason Virgil
The Bulldogs had four decent quarterback options with lots of promise and lots of potential, but it was Virgil who appeared ready to step out of the pack. The 6-1, 184-pounder from Texas got in a little work early on before starting against Utah. He struggled, completing just 11-of-25 passes for 97 yards, but worst of all he suffered a broken clavicle and was out for the year. Now he’s expected to be the best of the bunch with his mobility and skills, but he’ll have a fight on his hands for the job.
8. TE Chad Olsen
A decent option around the goal line in his first two seasons with seven of his 32 catches going for scores, he needs to be a bigger part of the attack. At the very least, considering the quarterback struggles, he should be used more as a safety valve – and he might be in the new attack. He didn’t see the ball for long stretches, and was banged up for a time, but he’s an athletic 6-5, 236-pound receiver who looks and plays the part. Forget about big blocks – he’s a pass catcher.
9. QB Ford Childress, Sr. and/or QB Kilton Anderson
Childress, a West Virginia transfer, was supposed to take the Bulldog quarterback situation by storm, but it didn’t really happen. He has the 6-5, 230-pound size, and he’s got the arm and the skills to bomb away, but he has to get and stay healthy after getting injured in just his second game of action. He didn’t see much work over the first few games, got in against San Jose State, completed 19-of-32 passes for 159 yards and two scores with a pick before suffering was called an “internal injury” and was gone for the year.
There were several options at quarterback, with Anderson taking over late in his true freshman season and showing a little bit of promise. The 6-2, 217-pounder failed to complete 50% of his passes with five interceptions and just two scores. He threw for 817 yards, and ran for 211 yards and four scores over the second half of the year. When he was bad, he was really off, but the Naples, FL native – who spent his senior season in Seattle – had some good enough moments to think there’s something bigger to come. There are plenty of other options if he struggles.
10. DE Nathan Madsen
The run defense needs a ton of help, and it needs the 6-4, 290-pound Madsen to be a rock on the outside after spending last year in the interior. He has the size and the frame – even if he’s a bit tall for a nose tackle – making 19 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Athletic enough to move around on the line, he might have to as the only returning starter up front.