Grant, Saunders

Fresno State loses leading receiver to transfer


One of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing 4-9 season for Fresno State last year, which was good enough to get long-time coach Pat Hill fired, was leading receiver Jalen Saunders.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs and new coach Tim DeRuyter, Saunders won’t be catching any more passes for FSU.

First tweeted by Saunders himself — “Makin moves, you feel me?” — multiple media outlets have confirmed through Saunders’ father that the receiver has decided to move on from the program, citing frustration with DeRuyter’s no-huddle spread offense.

“Fresno State is where Jalen wanted to be since high school, but there was a change of philosophy and a change of coaching staff that he no longer felt comfortable being there anymore,” Walter Saunders told the Fresno Bee. “He’s been frustrated. Jalen does not fit in their new style of ball. He felt like that even if he stuck with it, he wouldn’t progress.

“And when you feel like that, if you don’t have job satisfaction, you’re not going to do well.”

The junior-to-be reeled in 50 passes for 1065 yards and 14 total touchdowns last year, but the 5-foot-9 receiver has been moved into the slot this spring, which apparently didn’t jive with him.

“They told him you’re not going to catch downfield anymore,” the elder Saunders said. “That’s like telling [quarterback] Derek Carr, ‘You’re only going to run option.’

“You’re talking about someone who just had a prolific season. He’s 19. His better days are not behind him. And you’re going to limit him and his role? What about his play last year, did he not show you he’s capable?”

It’s not clear yet to where Saunders plans to transfer, but an official release from FSU states he’ll not be allowed to transfer within the conference or three places of the coach’s choice.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah