Thursday, July 21, 2005


Former Bulldog James Sanders has signed with the two time Super Bowl Champs. Had he not left early for the NFL, Fresno State would have had a top five secondary. As it is now, his void is being felt at SS. Senior Awan Diles, a 5'8 converted CB, is at top of the depth chart. Talented Junior Vincent Mays, an all-prep star, has yet to become the breakthrough star anticipated after his signing in 2002. DC Dan Brown's defense relies on a playmaking SS. If no one steps up, along with a suspect DL, offenses should be able to run on the Bulldogs. The linebackers are strong, but the SS acts almost like a fourth LB.

Sanders, 5'11 205, was a big hitter and a leader on the defense. Diles, mechanically, was a good corner, but was often beaten deep and struggled against bigger, stronger receivers. His experience will help as the SS, but he lacks the big hit capability. Mays, on the other hand, is built like Sanders, and has all the tangibles to be a great SS. All he lacks is the experience and determination. Behind them on the depth chart are rFR converted receiver Jake Jorde, and true Frosh Qaadir Brown, who was in for spring. Pat Hill is not afraid to start Freshmen. In 2000 when All-WAC FS Anthony Limbrick went down in the opener, rFr Bryce McGill started the rest of the year, and beat Limbrick out the next year. In 2002 McGill switched to SS, but rFr Sanders took the job away from McGill four games into the season and started every game since.

I expect Mays to become the "man". His signing was a big catch for Fresno State in 2002. He was rated as the 12th-best overall prospect and top defensive back in the state by Max Emfinger's Blue Chip Recruiting. He turned down Arizona and Illinois, the spring after they won the Big 10 and played in the Sugar Bowl. Sanders emerged during Mays' redshirt season, and his future at SS looked bleak. Now with Sanders gone, Mays has two years to prove his hype and become Fresno State's next great safety.


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