Fresno State Bulldogs

Meet the freshman: Bulldogs seeing big impact from youngsters

So far six true freshmen have seen the field for Fresno State two games into the season, and based on their performance, they should continue to earn playing time.

Whether it’s been because they’ve earned head coach Jeff Tedford’s trust, or the matchups suit their play, the group of freshmen are growing up on the field and look to provide a solid foundation for years to come.

“They’ve competed well,” Tedford said. “Like in anything, you continue to look for growth each and every week of the season to try to improve, try to get better every week.”

Here’s a look at the six freshmen gearing up for their second game in Bulldog Stadium:

Levelle Bailey

Bailey, a linebacker from Sacramento, has been the most impactful freshman in the first two games.

He only recorded one tackle against USC in Week 1, but he was named the starter at inside linebacker against Minnesota the following week and had a game to remember. He recorded 7 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss and one sack.

“It was really unexpected, to be honest with you,” Bailey said. “I really didn’t expect myself to be playing this early. But since I am, now I’ve just got to get rolling. I’m just like everybody else now. I don’t consider myself as a true freshman anymore. I’m just a Bulldog.”

He also played quarterback in high school, which gives him an ability to see the opposing offense differently than other freshmen, linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson said.

“I think he has really good instincts,” Thompson said. “I think that his instincts help him see things a little bit faster. And then I think conceptually, because of the fact the he knows offense, he’s able to see things that maybe young guys don’t see because of the speed of the game.”

Jalen Cropper

The wide receiver out of Buchanan High School was one of Fresno State’s top recruits, and he made an immediate impact against USC.

Cropper got the ball on the first play of the game, a fly sweep, and the Bulldogs ran him on the same play three more times throughout the game.

Although he didn’t find any success against Minnesota and hasn’t had his first reception yet, it’s just a matter of time until he hits his stride.

“The unfortunate part for him is he just didn’t get any balls his way when he was in, because he’s so much more than a fly sweep guy,” offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said. “He’s a very legitimate receiver. It’s not like, ‘Oh, he must not know the offense, so they just put him on a fly sweep.’ That’s not it at all. It’s just a lot of guys getting a lot of touches.”

Jamal Glaspie

Another wide receiver, Glaspie is from Los Angeles and was rated as a three-star recruit by multiple outlets. He saw immediate playing time in his Bulldogs career, starting against USC.

He recorded his first and only reception of the season so far against Minnesota, a 14-yard catch.

“The atmosphere was great,” Glaspie said. “The fans, they were really rocking. And when they get going, the energy you really feel on the field.”

Randy Jordan

Jordan is a cornerback from Tulare Union High School where he played on both sides of the ball.

Although he’s listed as the backup to Jaron Bryant, he’s received some playing time in the first two matchups.

He hasn’t recorded any tackles, pass breakups or interceptions yet, but they’ll come with extended playing time.

Deshawn Ruffin

Ruffin is the backup for cornerback Chris Gaston, and is a local standout from Sunnyside High School.

He came on strong when Gaston went down with an injury against Minnesota and recorded five tackles against Minnesota.

“It felt good, because for one, all the family got to come and then all my friends,” Ruffin said. “And then just being around school, everybody’s behind us. So stepping out there for the first time on new turf and in that stadium, it just felt right. You just felt like you had the whole city behind you.”

Ruffin credits defensive backs coach J.D. Williams and the older defensive backs on the team for bringing him up to speed so early in his career.

Evan Williams

Rounding out the freshmen is Williams, another defensive back. He backs up senior strong safety and captain Juju Hughes.

He played against USC’s Air Raid offense since there were often four or five receivers on the field in the pass-heavy attack. Williams recorded his first career tackle against USC.

Although he lined up against Minnesota at times, he didn’t record any stats.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.