The 2006 class is Pat Hill's best recruiting class top to bottom, ever. It might not register in the recruiting services national rankings but that is because of two reasons. First, Fresno State did not sign the maximum 25 recruits. Yes, that is stupid to do when a school does not have the scholarships available, but some schools do it just to improve their rankings. Second, Fresno State has a good corps of all-state recruits that flew under the radar and were not rated high by major recruiting services. Scout.com, for instance, defaults its unknown prospects to a 1 star rating. Mike Stuart was a 3 star prospect in 2004 out of high school, but because it was relatively unknown about him transferring back to IA this year, he is listed a 1 star prospect by Scout.com.
This does not mean Fresno State did not get a great class. There are 7 all-state players, 6 from California and one from Nevada. Every need was addressed and then some. Hill and company signed a prospect for every position except quarterback and kicker, two positions Hill said he was not recruiting. There is not a 4 star blue chip in this class, like the much heralded 2002 class with Vincent Mays, but there are more all-state players in this class than any other class in Hill's tenure. Just about every recruiting service differs in each player's particular rating and ranking. These rankings are just my opinion and nothing else. Take them for what they are worth just one guys opinion. *all-state selection
The Cream of the Crop- These are the players that are ready to play IA ball right now. I expect these recruits to play as true freshmen, except for the lone junior college transfer.
1. Mike Stuart DE- He is a redshirt sophomore transfer from a JC, and has three years of eligibility remaining. He will compete with incumbent Tyler Clutts, Jason Roberts, Ricky Miller and Marlon Brisco for a starting spot at defensive end. Stuart is about as good of an immediate replacement Hill could have found for McIntyre.
2. Lonyae Miller RB*- The absolute steal of the class. Miller played only one year at Kaiser HS in Fontana, after spending 3 useless years at Rialto. He will play as true as either the 2nd or 3rd back, especially if either Dwayne Wright or Clifton Smith is not 100%. Miller could play for any Pac 10 school, don't knock his opposition, and remember David Ausberry played at Lemoore.
3. Robert Schenck LB- He may or may not play as a true, it all depends on #4 on this list Nico Herron. Schenck is the heir apparent to Dwayne Andrews at MLB. Was the 3rd fastest prospect at the Fresno State camp last year with a 4.54 40 time on a very slow grass field. The two that were faster were both running backs.
4. Nico Herron MLB*- Second team all-state LB that will more than likely play defensive end at Fresno State. If Herron redshirts, then Schenck will not, or vice versa. But I do not see Herron playing MLB at Fresno for more than one year. McIntyre and Clutts were both LBs that made the move to DE, but neither was as fast as Herron out of high school.
5. Damion Owens CB- The early departure of Richard Marshall to the NFL has opened up a starting spot at cornerback. Elgin Simmons and Damon Jenkins are the veteran backups but Owens is capable of stepping in to start opposite Marcus McCauley.
Future Stars- I expect these prospects to redshirt but be significant contributors their redshirt freshman year.
6. Mark Roberts DT*- The next great defensive tackle. Hill compares him to Jason Stewart, but bigger and taller. There is decent depth at DT with Louis Leonard, Jason Shirley, Charles Tolbert, Jon Monga and Kenny Avon. Roberts will be starting along side Shirley in 2007 as a rFr.
7. Andrew Jackson DE*-Jackson might make the jump over to offense after a redshirt year. He can play either offense or defense at the next level. Most recruiting services project him as a DE, where he is rated the 45th best strongside DE by rivals.com. I think Hill will move him over to offensive where he will eventually replace Chris Denham at right tackle in 2007.
8. Ben Jacobs LB*- Jacobs could move to DE like Herron, where his high school wrestling experience would come in handy in the trenches. Otherwise, he will battle Qaadir Brown, Ahijah Lane and Isaac Kinter to start on the outside opposite Marcus Riley.
9. Jamel Hamler WR- The most intriguing story of the recruiting season so far. Was he coming to Fresno State or was he going to Oregon. With so much depth at WR, Hamler will probably redshirt and will be returning kicks along side Clifton Smith in the 2007. He will work himself into the WR rotation by his sophomore year.
10. Anthony Harding RB- Harding will redshirt unless he beats out Miller in preseason practice. He should be a significant contributor by his sophomore year.
11. Lorne Belle DB- Big things are expected of Bell. Jason Sherley and Mays graduate after this year and Belle will be expected to fill the void at strong safety as a redshirt freshman in 2007, like James Sanders did back in 2002.
12. Taylor Smith DE- Smith is another stud at DE in this year's class. He is rated the 37th best weakside defensive end by rivals.com. After an expected redshirt will compete for playing time in what looks to be a loaded position for the Bulldogs in 2007.
13. Robert Malone P- Malone was not just a punter in high school. He played tight end and defensive and is Riverside's King HS's record holder in the shot-put. He will redshirt and be a solid four-year starter after Mike Lingua graduates.
The Sleepers- These are the studs that went under the radar. Fresno State was very lucky these guys were among the ranks of the unknown. These are the future Logan Mankins and Garrett McIntyres of the world.
14. Barry Wilson WR*- Wilson is the best receiving prospect in the Valley for the class of 2006. Ausberry and Anthony McCoy got the hype because they can play multiple positions, but Wilson will become a better college receiver. He could compete as a true freshman just because of his 6-4 frame, but will probably redshirt. He will be a force for four years, he is already Fresno State's tallest receiver.
15. A.J. Jefferson CB- Jefferson is raw but talented prospect. Hill compares him to McCauley, I agree completely. Whether he pans out, remains to be seen.
16. Ken Wiggins OL- The 6' 7 giant has the potential to be the best tackle ever at Fresno State. He is very light on his feet, and moves well. Hill has gone to a smaller, faster line the last two years, so I would not be surprised to see Wiggins eventually becoming a very good TE.
The Projects- These guys will have to wait their turn because of the talent on the depth charts that are above them. I expect these 3 Fresno area recruits to grayshirt. These players might make position change at the next level, and need the added time to bulk up.
17. Charlie Robbins OL*- Robbins is only a project because I can honestly see him playing defensive tackle. He is a wrestler, and at 6-2 270, imagine him if he puts on another 20-30 lbs. There is no immediate need on the offensive line, so I can see him grayshirting but being a significant contributor as a true in 2007.
18. Will Smith LB- After a couple of years in the program, this track star could be a very scary menace lining up at WLB. He is already fast, but with some added bulk he could become a very dangerous run stopper.
19. Kenny Hedrington RB- Hedrington needs to find a place on this football team. There is a lot of bigger and stronger RBs in front of him, and I hope he does not get discouraged. Hedrington could fill the role of Clifton Smith, but might have to wait until 2008 to get his chance. There is the possibility of him moving over to defense, like Lane did in 2003.