Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Returning: 13
Lost: 2
Incoming: 3

It’s an area where Fresno State was exposed last season, and even the year before, being consistently outrun to the edges. The hope is that changes this year, with an injury-plagued unit back in tact.

Senior Ahijah Lane (6-1, 225) has been the constant and has stepped up and played very well, but he’s far from the most talented of the bunch. That title belongs to senior Marcus Riley (6-0, 220) who wasn’t the same last year after injuring his knee against USC in 2005. But Riley was back to his all-over-the-field, pad-popping antics in the Spring Game. The other starting job is likely to go to either senior Trevor Shamblee (once he returns from injury) or sophomore Quaadir Brown (who's suspended for the first game for off-field issues). Both were injured last season, with Brown missing the whole year and getting a medical redshirt. Brown (6-0, 210), a converted running back, played as a true freshman and was impressive, but Shamblee (6-1, 220), a walk-on junior college transfer last year, offers more speed.

This is the deepest unit on the team and probably the toughest to figure out the depth chart. A trio of redshirt freshmen have all looked like potential superstars in practice and scrimmages. The discussion starts with Nico Herron (6-3, 240) who is already showing all the signs of being a team leader – he’s vocal, hard-hitting and talented. He came in highly-touted along with Robert Schenck (6-2, 250), but Ben Jacobs (6-3, 225) has been as impressive, if not more so, than either of them – enough so that he has teammates talking about future All-America talent. But how close are these guys to seeing playing time? That will be decided in fall camp.

Junior Ryan McKinley (6-2, 220) is experienced and was also formerly highly-touted, though he hasn’t yet broken onto the scene the way he was expected to. Sophomore Todd Chisom (6-1, 220) made huge strides in the offseason and could start fall camp with the second string.
Sophomore Ryan Machado (6-0, 210) is a former walk-on who botched the blocked field goal that cost Fresno State the Oregon game last season, but also currently sits second-string on the depth chart. Fellow former walk-ons Frankie Manquero (6-1, 190), Max Navo 6-0, 220) and Tommy Gatta (6-1, 215) are all likely to be passed up by the younger studs about to hit their prime.

All new signees are likely to redshirt, though if this unit wasn’t so deep Kaiser-Fontana’s Chris Carter (6-2, 220) could compete for immediate playing time. He’s a specimen built as well as anyone already in the program and was recruited by several Pac-10 schools. And on tape, Kyle Knox (6-1, 215) looked every bit as impressive on the field, with a knack for getting into the backfield. Austin Raphael (6-2, 225) is more of a raw prospect.

Rating: 7 of 10

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