February 22, 2007

2007 defense will have many new faces

The Fresno State defense finished in the middle of the pack in 2006 and a number of young players were given reps down the stretch to gain valuable experience. The 2007 version expects to have many new faces and could have as many as five new starters on opening day.

The defensive line will return the most experience and will be called upon to lead the young defense as weakside defensive end Tyler Clutts and his 23 career starts will be the veteran of the unit.

Clutts started 10 games in 2006 and finished 8th on the team with 37 total tackles, leading the Bulldogs with five sacks. Behind him and challenging him for playing time will be junior Ikenna Ike and redshirt freshmen Taylor Smith and Chris Lewis. The strongside end position could belong to junior Jason Roberts for the time being, who played sporadically in 2006, finishing with 11 tackles

The inside interior line positions would seem to have the most experience on the surface as Charles Tolbert will be the favorite heading into camp at defensive tackle with six career starts under his belt. He will be challenged by three redshirt freshmen in Cornell Banks, Andrew Jackson and Mark Roberts.

Nose tackle's Joe Monga and Jason Shirley both bring experience to the table as they have four and 16 career starts respectively. Sophomore Wilson Ramos will try to impress coaches during the spring to press the veterans for playing time.

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