Fresno State Bulldogs

Bulldogs ink 10 recruits as early signing period opens

Fresno State welcomed 10 new Bulldogs to the football team as the early signing period opened Wednesday, just one week after Jeff Tedford was introduced as head coach for the second time. 

The three Central Valley recruits headed to Bulldog Stadium are all from Stockton. Lincoln High School’s Jomarion Briggs and Tim Thomas III will join Jahzon Jackson from St. Mary’s High School on the Bulldogs. 

All but one player – tight end and Arizona native Merhauti “Sunny” Xepera – are from California. 

While none of the athletes who submitted their national letters of intent Wednesday morning were from the Fresno-Clovis area, Bullard High School wide receiver Jayden Davis and Buchanan High School’s Caden Rodgers will soon join their ranks. 

Davis held a signing day ceremony at Bullard on Wednesday and Rodgers, who played running back for the Bears, posted his decision on Twitter. 

Here’s a look at the 10 players headed to Bulldog Stadium who sent in their commitment letters, along with statements on each from Director of Player Personnel Albert Garcia: 

Nathan Acevedo

Acevedo joins the Bulldogs from Lincoln High School in San Diego. 

The three-star wide receiver had 979 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns during his senior season and also was recruited by UNLV and Utah State. 

“Nathan is a dynamic receiver with the ball in his hands,” Garcia said. “His speed combined with an ability to make defenders miss is something we are looking forward to seeing in Bulldog Stadium. Coming from Lincoln High School, where former Bulldog David Dunn is the head coach, we know Nathan will be prepared to compete in Fresno.”

Jalen Moss

Moss follows in the footsteps of former Fresno State greats Davante Adams and KeeSean Johnson as a wide receiver from the Palo Alto area. 

The Menlo Atherton High School product recorded 1,127 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021 and drew interest from a bevy of Power 5 schools, including Arizona State, Nebraska, Oregon and Oregon State. 

“Historically, players from the Palo Alto & Menlo Park area have done well here from Davante Adams, Keesean Johnson, to Jordan Mims,” Garcia said. “Jalen is humble but a competitive athlete. His athleticism, speed, and run after catch ability provide him all the tools to continue the tradition of productive receivers from the Bay Area. He’s made explosive plays on offense, defense, and special teams this past season so we are excited for his future here as a Wide Receiver!”

Nate Maier

Maier joins the Bulldogs as a 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive lineman from Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead. 

Maier is a three-star recruit. 

“Nate is a multi-sport athlete, also competing in wrestling and in track & field,” Garcia said. “He is a relentless finisher when it comes to blocking and he brings an attitude to everything he does. He has the size and physicality we’re looking for on the offensive line.”

Marcus Simien

Simien is the other offensive lineman in Fresno State’s 2022 recruiting class. 

The three-star recruit stands at 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds and hails from Patterson High School in Patterson. He is the No. 84 nationally ranked interior offensive lineman, according to Fresno State. 

“Marcus is a great player with a high ceiling,” Garcia said. “Coupled with his frame and length, he demonstrated athleticism and aggressiveness in his film his senior year which led to an increase in his recruitment. We are excited for a Valley product to be staying close to home.”

Merhauti “Sunny” Xepera

The Gilbert, Arizona, native was ranked as the No. 109 tight end in the country, according to Fresno State. 

Xepera is a three-star recruit who played for Higley High School. 

“Sunny is a great football player and an even better person,” Garcia said. “His physical presence on the field will be evident here at Fresno. He is a physical multi-sport athlete that will compete the day he steps on campus. He played on both sides of the ball this past season and we are looking forward to seeing him compete at tight end.”

Miles Bailey

Fresno State’s defensive line is bolstered by the addition of three-star defensive tackle Miles Bailey from Benicia High School in Benicia. 

Bailey averaged 4.7 tackles per game in his senior season and also recorded 10 sacks and forced 2 fumbles. 

Air Force, Army, Colorado State, San Jose State, UNLV and Dartmouth all recruited Bailey as well. 

“Miles is an athletic defensive lineman that was very disruptive playing multiple positions this year,” Garcia said. “Whether he was on the edge, the interior, or even playing tight end, Miles made an impact. He has a unique blend of size, athleticism, and explosiveness that will lead him to be a force up front for many years.”

Jomarion Briggs

Briggs, one of Stockton’s Lincoln High School recruits, will play defensive back for the Bulldogs after recording 5 interceptions during his senior season. 

The three-star recruit also was recruited by Arizona, Colorado and UCLA. 

“Jomarion is a huge addition to our program,” Garcia said. “He had an exciting recruitment but we’re glad to have him back in the Bulldog Red! His combination of length, athleticism, and coverage skills will lead him to compete early. One of three Stockton recruits from this class, we’re thrilled to keep a Valley product home!”

Jahzon Jacks

A defensive end from St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Jacks sacked opposing quarterbacks 5 times during his senior campaign. 

“Jahzon has the length coaches want in their defensive linemen at 6’5″. A multi-sport athlete (basketball), he has a great first step and improved his pass rush moves from his junior year. Even though he played both ways this year he consistently made plays outside the box and demonstrated a high motor,” Garcia said. “We’re excited to keep one of the best players in the Valley home!”

Gavriel Lightfoot

Lightfoot is another recruit joining Fresno State’s defensive line. During his senior season at Centennial High School in Corona, Lightfoot recorded 4.5 sacks and 18 quarterback hurries. 

The three-star recruit also drew interest from Nevada and Hawaii. 

“Gavriel is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line as he lined up in multiple spots this season,” Garcia said. “He played for one of the best teams in the state this year and was a key part of their success with how he disrupted games up front. He is strong, physical, and has a great motor. He just turned 17 in November so his best football is definitely ahead of him.”

Tim Thomas III

Thomas III, the other Lincoln High School recruit, will play linebacker for the ‘Dogs. 

A three-star recruit, Thomas III also was recruited by Colorado State and San Jose State. 

“Tim surprised us with his athleticism and speed at camps this summer,” Garcia said. “He has a good burst when closing on the ballcarrier and has additional value as a pass rusher. Tim’s combination of size, speed, & toughness will lead him to be a great linebacker here in Fresno. Coming from Stockton, we’re excited to keep a Valley product home!”

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.