Pat Hill has always stated recruiting the Valley is his first priority. Some of the Bulldog's top players from last year were from the Valley. Wendell Mathis (Merced), Bryson Sumlin (Bakersfield), Paul Williams (Avenal), Cole Popovich (Oakhurst) are just of few of the names that played their high school football in the Valley. Both of last year's Bulldog NFL draft picks were from the Valley, Logan Mankins (Cathys Valley) and James Sanders (Porterville).
This year's list of early commitments is no different, about half (8) of the verbals are from the Valley. But Hill has yet to land the top flight, blue chip Valley recruits. Most of the Valley's top players leave home to attend college. Whether it is the lore of playing in a Bowl Championship Series conference, higher standard of academics, or just to get away from home, many of the Valley's top players avoid Fresno State. However, there are those who leave only to come back. Mathis signed at UCLA, but came back home and walked on at Fresno State.
The class of 2006 has 6 Valley players listed among the top 100 in California according to Scout.com. Fresno State did not sign one of these 6, and only one of its verbals is listed in the top 100, No. 89 Lonyae Miller (Fontana). No. 49 Ricky Thenarse (Los Angeles) will give the Bulldogs their highest rated recruit if he commits to the Bulldogs later today on ESPNU. One notable omission on the Cali top 100 is Chris Lewis, but Scout.com lists Lewis as No. 35 rated recruit in the West. Huh? My guess is that the West list has been updated recently, while the Cali list has not.
Valley Players listed in Scout.com's California Top 100
No. 11 David Ausberry WR Lemoore 6'4 215- Ausberry never considered Fresno State. He committed to USC over Ohio State and Georgia. Ausberry is exactly the blue chip Hill and many Bulldog fans hope will choose Fresno State over the BCS schools in the near future. Ausberry has been rated as high as the 3rd best receiver in the nation. If he had committed to the Bulldogs maybe a couple of other blue chips would have followed suit. It is hard for the have nots of college football (non-BCS schools) to compete with the USCs of the world.
No. 15 Tracy Slocum RB Clovis (East) 5'10 215- Slocum had Cal and UCLA on top of his list from the get go. Although, he listed Fresno State among his top 5, he had no interest in the Bulldogs unless he was unable to gain admission to Cal or UCLA. He committed to Cal, and his comment about Hill possibly leaving for the NFL effecting his decision was pure bullshit. I maybe being a little harsh, but that comment is a cop out if I've ever heard one.
No. 19 Levirt Griffin DE Modesto 6'4 235- Griffen was an untouchable commodity. Not only was he a spectacular player, but tore it up in the classroom. He sports a 4.0 GPA. 24 ACT, 1670 SAT-new version-no retests. His final two schools were Cal and Stanford. No surprise he chose Stanford. There is no doubt Hill would have loved to have Griffin. Hill was able to get a verbal from Griffen's teammate DT Mark Roberts. Griffen is just one of the few high school players that still cares about academics more than football.
No. 31 Anthony McCoy TE Fresno (Bullard) 6'4 220- McCoy had Fresno State listed among his top five choices, but USC was his top choice all along. As soon as the Trojans offered he committed. McCoy would have been a huge coup for Hill. If USC didn't offer there would have been a good chance McCoy could have joined teammate Kenny Hedrington as a Bulldog.
No. 42 Walter Watts OL Los Banos 6'4 290- Watts committed to UCLA in February of 2005, so many schools backed off his senior year. Watts broke his fibula in his first game and missed the entire season. Early this month he de-committed from UCLA and the recruiting frenzy began again. The reason for de-committing from UCLA was because he did not want to be distracted by his many family members in Los Angeles. If that is true then Fresno State probably never had a shot because of its close proximity to Los Banos. He gave Utah a verbal this week, the same school his father went to.
No. 51 Justin Prueitt OL Clovis (Buchanan) 6'5 275- Prueitt was a guy on top of Hill's list but Prueitt committed to Cal in June of 2005. Hill still offered but Prueitt will be a Bear. Prueitt is the prototypical Hill recruit. Hill has been able to land the 2 star Clovis area recruits, but seems to lose out to the Pac 10 for the 3 and 4 star guys.
No. 83 Michael Turner CB Manteca 5'11 160- Turner was another guy high on Hill's list but lost out to the aggressive Mike Stoops at Arizona. Stoops is bringing in one of the best classes in the Pac 10 this year. Turner had Arizona and Fresno State has his two favorites, but was expecting bigger schools to jump into the frenzy, most notably USC, UCLA and Miami. USC finally did offer, but Stoops and Arizona had already won the derby.