Thursday, January 05, 2006

Popovich Continues Tradition

Cole Popovich probably would have been named a freshman all-American last year if he had not gotten injured during the second game of the season last year at Kansas State. True freshman Ryan Wendell filled his void for the rest of 2004. Wendell went on to become a Football Writers Association of America and Scripps freshman all-American last year. Popovich followed in his footsteps and was named to this years team.

Wendell and Popovich are the fourth and fifth consecutive players, receptively, to be named FWAA freshman all-Americans at Fresno State. The Bulldogs have had at least one player on all five of the FWAA freshman All-American teams. Texas and USC are the only other schools that have accomplished the same feat. Four of the five Bulldog all-Americans have been offensive lineman, Logan Mankins in 2001 and Kyle Young in 2003 were the others. Strong safety James Sanders, in 2002, is the lone Bulldog that did not play on the offensive line.

If Young returns for his senior next year, the middle of the Bulldogs' offensive line will contain three former FWAA freshman all-Americans. Will Fresno State have a sixth player named to the FWAA freshman all-American team next year? If I had to bet. My guess would be redshirt freshman linebacker Isaac Kinter or maybe even incoming freshman running back Lonyae Miller. If Dwayne Wright and Clifton Smith are not 100% for the fall, Miller could get a lot of carries. I had to pick a lineman, redshirt James Meeks is a good bet as any to fill the vacancy at left tackle.

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