Good Sports: Fresno State virtually lands successful 2021 recruiting class

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The early signing period for football wrapped up on Friday. The Fresno State's coaching staff was challenged not only in playing a season during a global pandemic but also recruiting during one.

This year the Red Wave saw empty stadiums filled with cardboard cutouts and piped in crowd noise. A non-traditional season with a new coaching staff that also went through a unique recruiting experience.

"We're just nonstop in contact with them, as much if not more than we are with our own families. That's the level of intensity recruiting that this staff has," said football coach Kalen DeBoer.

The Bulldogs signed 14 players on national signing day. Only a couple of them were able to visit before the coronavirus shut down campus.

"I thought we did a great job transitioning quickly. We put our heads together as a full staff and put together a nice plan that we sustained through all the Spring months. Maybe all but one was recruited that way through the Zoom calls," he said.

Recruits were treated to a 30-minute virtual tour of Fresno State's facilities - a time when the coaching staff was able to show their personalities.

"It started with one coach, then once they got to a door or different checkpoint, that coach would leave the Zoom and then they'd flop to the next one. Go through the whole facility, that was definitely the coolest one I had to do," said Jordan Hornbeak, a senior at San Joaquin Memorial.

Hornbeak chose to stay in the Valley despite multiple Pac-12 offers. Similarly, quarterback Jaylen Henderson felt a special bond with the coaching staff choosing Fresno State over offers from power-5 schools.

"DeBoer, his energy as a head coach, is just unmatched. When I called him to tell him I was committing I think he thought I was going to the other school, he was so excited the running back coach in the back doing basketball drills. It was just a special moment for all of us," said Henderson.

Adapting to a virtual experience to seek out the best Bulldogs for next season.

"As you went longer and longer you had to get more creative. Not only are we trying to sell we're the right fit for them but are they a right fit for us. I know for sure that these guys are a great fit for this program," said DeBoer.
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