Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Players returning: 5
Incoming: 2
Lost: 2 (Dwayne Wright, Rich Owens)

No need to panic over the loss of Dwayne Wright (Bills) – while he may be the greatest back to ever wear a Fresno State uniform, a stable of young talent steps in. Hill made sure two youngsters were prepared with plenty of carries as true freshmen last season in Lonyae Miller (5-11, 205) and Anthony Harding (6-0, 215).

Miller (54 carries, 287 yards) has the upper hand on the starting job, especially with Harding (30 carries, 141 yards) sitting out spring practice with an injury. Watch for a big year from Miller, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry last year, and has the ability to burst to the hole quicker than any Bulldog in recent memory. He may be All-WAC as soon as 2007 and has NFL-type potential.

Harding gives the team the ability to mix it up and keep defenses off balance, similar to the way the Bulldogs used Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin in 2005.

But the real X-factor with this unit will be Clifton Smith (5-8, 190). He’s as shifty and elusive as anyone in the country, if not more so, but was limited in 2006 with lingering effects of tearing up his knee in 2005 against Oregon. This spring, he took the field without a knee brace for the first time since and was one of the stars of the Spring Game. While he had just one carry last season and no receptions, he will figure in to offense in some way – count on it. He may line up in the slot or take a handoff, in addition to being one of the premier punt return men in the nation.

And don’t count out sophomore JC transfer Jamal Rashad (5-11, 196) as a contributer. He burst onto the scene with a solid performance at the Spring Game, after sitting last year with an injury. He’ll be ahead of undersized walk-on Kyle Duffy (5-8, 175) on the depth chart, with true freshmen Ryan Mathews (5-11, 205) and Bryson Hodges (5-10, 200) likely to redshirt.

Rating: 7 of 10

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  1. Don't be surprised to see Smith line up in the slot/H-B and catch the ball more than he runs it...Mathews will see time if he can get the playbook down

    Hodges could be MIA, leaving the door open for walk on Lamon Muldrow who should be arriving soon

  2. Oh man I can't wait to see Clifton out there!

    He deserves it. He's was injured for so long. Poor guy. He should really help out with his explosiveness!

    I would be very surprised to see Mathews get any carries this year. Unless, we have someone go down with an injury. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

  3. I was surprised to see Miller and Harding 2nd and 3rd on the depth chart last year...

    from what I have seen of Mathews and from what he has told me and said publicly, he will be hard to keep off the field

  4. I think we'll know fairly quickly when fall camp starts what Hill's plans are for Mathews...looking forward to finding out.

    That said, I think this year is a MUCH different situation than last, when coaches knew they had to play the young guys otherwise they'd be left with NO experienced RBs this year. It's a good thing Miller and Harding did get that experience.


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