If anything became apparent during the 2006 season at Fresno State it was the Bulldogs did not possess the speed on defense to compete in games against teams such as Hawaii, Boise State, or LSU. More often than not the Bulldogs defensive secondary could be seen chasing a RB, WR, or TE down the field due to the lack of speed on defense. Although Marcus McCauley came into the season as one of the more highly touted CB's at Fresno State he would deal with so much pressure that it eventually took its toll on the young man. McCauley was counted on to do far too much during the 2006 season and in the end could not compensate for all of the inexperience in the secondary. While Josh Shirley could hit he always seemed to arrive one second too late. We all know the story of Vincent Mays and how he did not pan out. Elgin Simmons never seemed to grasp the corner position like the Dogs had hoped. The only bright spot in the secondary came with Damon Jenkins, but even that took over half a season to develop. The Fresno State coaching staff realized that their LB's were far too slow, their secondary did not react with the tenacity they had shown in the past, and their Defensive Line did not put pressure on the QB like the Dogs have been known to do. The 2007 recruiting class was put together to spell the Bulldogs of each and every one of these problems. Let's see how the coaching staff went about fixing these problems with respect to who they brought in to do so.
Defensive Line: Fresno State will have Jason Shirley, Jon Monga, Tyler Clutts, Mike Stuart, Chris Lewis, and Jason Roberts returning. In addition the Bulldogs were able to recruit Ken Borg (pictured above) who shows an explosive speed off the end that the Bulldogs did not have this past season. Bryce Harris was also brought in as he showed the ability to play both offensive and defensive line. Porter Hill is listed as a Defensive Tackle and by now we all know the promise that this young man has. He may have the opportunity to make some noise during his freshman season. Overall Fresno State has the depth at Defensive Line to cause problems for the opposing team's QB all season. Whether these young players develop or not will depend on the veterans and the leadership they can provide throughout the course of the season. Overall Grade: B
Linebackers: With Qaadir Brown, Trevor Shamblee (pending injury), Marcus Riley, Robert Schenck, and Nico Herron all returning the Bulldogs LB corp. looks to be in tact and ready to go. However, Fresno State was able to bring in Chris Carter from Kaiser, Ca. Carter is one of the top prospects in the 2007 Fresno State recruiting class and will add both power and speed to the LB corp. Austin Raphael was also brought in as a true LB. Raphael was one of the first commits of the 2007 class. He did suffer an injury during his senior season and will more than likely red shirt his freshman season barring injuries. Overall the Bulldogs seem to have the LB's to compete with anyone in the nation this upcoming season. The addition of Carter will only strengthen the Dogs defense that much more. Although the addition of Carter is a great one because the Dogs brought in so little at the LB position their grade will not truly reflect where the team stands with respect to the LB position. Overall Grade: B-
Corners/Secondary: Damon Jenkins, Marvin Haynes, A.J. Jefferson, and Moses Harris will all return to the Bulldogs secondary with plenty of experience after being on the field for almost the entire 2006 season. Lorne Bell will be inserted into the lineup as well for his freshman season after sitting out 2006 to red shirt. With these five secondary players on the field Fresno State’s defense should do well, but the recruiting additions are what truly make 2007 something to look forward to. This is the one position the coaches seemed to concentrated on with respect to recruiting. Sharrod Davis will come into Fresno as one of two starting corners. Remember had Davis been able to transfer to a PAC-10 school he would have. Instead he is at Fresno State and will spell the Bulldogs at the corner opposite Jenkins. The Bulldogs welcome numerous db's and safeties that are blessed with speed. Terrance Dennis, Isaiah Green, Tim Lang, Jevon Stallworth, and Jermaine Thomas all run 40 times in the range of 4.5 or less. Zak Hill will also be coming in as he is a shutdown corner that tackles better than most. Players such as Philip Thomas may also be utilized on defense because of his athletic ability. Overall Fresno State solved their speed problem and can only hope these players develop throughout the course of the 2007 season. Overall Grade: A
The defensive unit as a whole will have to find a way to put pressure on the QB to make 2007 a successful season. If the QB for opposing teams is given 5 seconds to throw it will not matter how good the coverage is, someone will be open. The Dogs have the size, speed, and ability to shut down teams such as Boise State but they will have to learn to play together as a team before that can happen. 2007's recruiting class is definitely solid and will give us as Fresno State fans plenty to cheer about in the near future.
Overall Defensive Grade: B+