The Fresno State Bulldogs football team is less than a month away from the start of another season, and expectations are sky high once again.
Entering a college football season with high expectations is nothing new to Bulldogs' fans, but I don't think they have all their hopes riding on this season alone. With a nice mixture of veterans and young talent on the team, fans can look to a bright future that spills way over into next season and maybe the one after that.
Do the Fresno State faithful want the Dogs to win in 2011? Of course they do, but the fans should know that this season could be a stepping stone for things to come.
As we all know, Derek Carr is the new leader of the team, and along with a lot of veteran players returning like Devon Wylie, Rashad Evans and Robbie Rouse just to name a few, the team has the opportunity to take a giant step forward in 2011.
With all the weapons that the new signal-caller will have in his holster, there are a few that haven't been fired yet, along with another that has showed glimpses of what Bulldog's fans can look forward to.
As I roamed around the room at the 2011 "Fresno State Football Media Day," following coach Pat Hill's press conference, I noticed the guys like Derek Carr, Logan Harrell, Robbie Rouse, Pat Hill and others garnering a lot of attention.
Don't get me wrong, these guys deserve every bit of attention that they receive; they are the face of the Fresno State football team for 2011.
For me though, today was a little different. I was seeking to talk to a few players who have not drawn flocks of reporters and the attention that the Derek Carrs and Robbie Rouses have attracted, at least not yet anyway.
I believe Fresno State fans will be hearing about the following Bulldogs on a regular basis in the very near future.
The quotes for this article were taken from interviews performed by Gean May at "2011 Fresno State Football Media Day" on Aug, 5, 2011.
Milton Knox is a transfer from UCLA, where he was buried on the depth chart and didn't see a significant amount of playing time.
Knox attended Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa, California. The running back was ranked No. 30 nationally and No. 4 in the West at his position by Scouts.com.
In Knox's senior year, he torched the opposition by rushing for 2,210 yards and getting into the end zone 39 times.
With no depth chart in place yet, Knox is well aware of how deep the running back talent pool is at Fresno State.
"It's not individual, right now Robbie is the head guy," said Knox, "as a running back unit we are solid from one through four, we are all going to be good."
Even with Fresno State's depth at running back, Knox should still get his fair share of touches in 2011.
Wide receiver Isaiah Burse is entering his sophomore season for the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Burse did see playing time in 2010, but he didn't seem to touch the ball as much as his talent would dictate.
Burse is an all-around athlete, and he played both ways at Modesto Christian High School in California.
As a quarterback he led Modesto Christian to a 15-0 record and the CIF Small School State Championship.
Fresno State's wide receivers coach Keith Williams speaks very highly of Burse.
"He's a great athlete, he's explosive, he's versatile, smart and serious, he's a big time athlete," boasted Williams.
In 2010 Burse caught 13 balls and carried the ball 16 times for 71 yards; of those 71 yards, 30 of them came via a 30-yard touchdown run.
When the Bulldogs go with their version of the Wildcat formation, "The Hound," Burse will most likely be on the field.
When I asked Coach Williams if Burse would see significant playing time in 2011 the answer was straight to the point. "Yes," said Williams without hesitation.
Josh Harper is a red-shirt freshman wide-out from Saint Mary's high school in Stockton, California.
Fresno State Bulldogs wide receivers coach Keith Williams is very high on Harper. "Josh is a great athlete, good size, it's a rare combination to be at his size and that fluent as an athlete, I definitely see him making a big impact this season also," he said. The reason Williams said "also" was due to the fact that he had just finished talking about the development of Isaiah Burse.
Rashad Evans, Jalen Saunders and Devon Wylie are definitely the "top dogs" at this position, but look for guys like Josh Harper to see the field quite a bit in 2011.
Bulldogs fans will have to wait a while to see what wide-out Victor Dean brings to the table. Dean has an ankle injury that will probably keep him off the field until at least October.
Although not happy with his injury, Dean remains optimistic. "It kind of caught me off guard, but I'm just gonna take it day by day," said Dean.
At 6'5" and speed to match, this kid could be a nightmare for opposing teams when the Bulldogs get in the red zone. With his height and jumping ability the red zone could be like playing on the school yard for Derek Carr and Dean.
The huddles might go something like this, "Hey Victor, just head to the back corner of the end zone, and I'll just lob it up and you go get it."
Wide receivers coach Keith Williams seems to agree with me on this. "He's got great size and great leaping ability, he's got a rare combination, he should be a threat in the red zone," said Williams.
Dean is a member of what I like to call the "young pups" of the receiving corps which also includes Josh Harper and Isaiah Burse. However, Dean knows that they can contribute to the group of veterans. "It's our time to step up," he said.