Former Bulldogs’ All-American Phillip Thomas made an impression, on and off the field

Former Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas has made an impression in mini camp and OTAs with the Washington Redskins, and there is a chance the fourth-round draft pick could be starting very early in the season.

Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, another rookie defensive back with the Redskins, did a Google hangout with some fans and media members for the Washington Post this week, touching on a wide variety of subjects including … Chicken McNuggets.

Thomas said he was headed back to Fresno to workout with some of his former teammates before the start of camp – probably a good thing.





Bulldogs’ offensive line could get a little lighter with loss of recruit from 2013 class

Fresno State will open fall camp on Aug. 1, likely without offensive tackle Kolby Drew, a transfer from Palomar College and one of six offensive linemen in its 2013 recruiting class. According to sources, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Drew is unlikely to enroll in school because of a family issue.

Drew was an intriguing prospect for the Bulldogs, who have depth issues in their offensive line. Despite playing for a team that went only 4-6 and 2-4 in the Southern Conference, he was a first-team all-conference and all-state selection by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

The Bulldogs also lost interior lineman Patrick Kim, a mid-year transfer from Mount San Antonio College, who was forced to take a medical retirement after sustaining a neck injury in a non-contact drill during spring practice.

Central Section qualifiers for Saturday’s state track finals

CENTRAL SECTION QUALIFIERS for Saturday’s finals of the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium (with their qualifying marks):

Field events begin at 4:30 p.m., track at 6 p.m.

BOYS (24)

400: Joe Herrera, jr., Western, *48.08

800: Ivan Gonzalez, sr., Ridgeview, 1:51.60

1,600: Blake Haney, jr., Stockdale, 4:13.05; Cody Brazeal, Buchanan, 4:14.92

3,200: Blake Haney, sr., Stockdale, 9:09.96; Connor Nolen, jr., Clovis North, 9:19.28; Jose Herrera, sr., Madera South, 9:25.00

400 relay: Edison, 41.65; Central, 42.16

1,600 relay: Clovis, *3:17.62

Long jump: David Booker, sr., Western, 23-0; Scotty Newton, jr., Bakersfield, 23-0; Joey Souza, soph., Kingsburg, 22-11 1/2; Donte McDaniel, sr., Selma, 22-10 1/4

Triple jump: Scotty Newton, jr., Bakersfield, 48-1 3/4; Darius Armstead, sr., Mt. Whitney, 47-9 1/4; Matt Bowen, jr., Buchanan, 47-5

High jump: Taylor Smith, sr., Buchanan, 6-7; L.J. Moore, sr., Central, 6-7; Jonathan Moore, sr., Independence

Pole vault: Brad Beekman, sr., Clovis East, 15-5 3/4

Discus: Colton Foster, jr., Frontier, 172-1; Brad Beekman, sr., Clovis East, 171-9; Matt Smith, soph., Bakersfield Christian, 169-9

GIRLS (18)

100: Jazmen Bunch, jr., Edison, 11.73

400: Hannah Waller, frosh., Buchanan, 55.59

800: Mikaela Smith, soph., Clovis North, *2:10.63

1,600: Ali Teliha, sr., Bullard, 4:57.23

3,200: Hagen Reedy, sr., Buchanan, 10:49.52; Leigh Moffett, jr., Clovis North, 10:50.59; Mikayla Sodersten, frosh., Clovis, 10:53.78

100 high hurdles: Morganne Hill, soph., Liberty-Bak., *14.14

300 low hurdles: Morganne Hill, soph., Liberty-Bak., *42.43

400 relay: Edison, 46.45

1,600 relay: Edison, #*3:44.75; Buchanan, 3:50.65

Long jump: Rhesa Foster, frosh., Clovis North, 18-4 1/2; Maciah Murray, jr., Edison, 17-11

Shot put: Nikki Okwelogu, sr., Clovis West, 45-10 3/4; Amarie Bremel, sr., Kingsburg, 40-9 1/2

Discus: Nikki Okwelogu, sr., Clovis West, *170-6; Rae Blansett, jr., Liberty-Bak., 138-7

# — Central Section record
* — School record

Imminent: Death, taxes and Tony Amundsen hired by Clovis North

Bullard boys basketball coach Tony Amundsen will be approved as Clovis North’s coach Wednesday by the Clovis Unified school board.

Tony Amundsen will be approved as Clovis North’s boys basketball coach Wednesday by the Clovis Unified school board in a high-profile switch that’s become as given as it is comical, really.

Unless, of course, you’re associated with Bullard’s program, which is taking a hit unlike any in school history in regard to coaches.

Consider my exchange Friday night with Clovis North athletic director Eric Swain at the state track and field meet at Buchanan:

Me: “So, Eric, is the Amundsen hire official?”

Swain (smiling): “The forwarded candidate will be approved Wednesday by the board.”

Me (laughing with the most rhetorical question of my 40-year reporting career): “So, who’s the ‘forwarded candidate?’”

Swain (laughing): “Cmon, buddy.”

And away goes Amundsen, who made that intention clear two weeks ago, when he told The Bee he wanted the Clovis North job because of an “overwhelming factor” — his family of five lives in that school’s attendance area. Further, that his oldest child, fifth-grader Cadee, will be on campus with him in the fall of 2014 at the Clovis North Educational Center, which combines Granite Ridge Intermediate and the high school in northeast Fresno at International and Willow Avenues.

What an enormous blow for not only Bullard, but the County/Metro Athletic Conference and Fresno Unified School District as well.

Understand this: A typical tenured teacher/coach in the district makes about $75,000.

Amundsen is worth double that, if not more, considering the following his teams have drawn from home to road to Selland Arena in a 119-38, five-year career with three consecutive Division I titles at the school.

There’s no doubt Bullard, a melting pot for basketball talent not only within its attendance area but Fresno Unified (see transfers), will replace Amundsen with a quality coach.

But, as Knights athletic director Doug Finks says, “You can’t bottle lightening.”

And Amundsen brought serious thunder and lightening to a program that not long ago could hosted a card game (one table, 10 players) at its home  games.

Past couple years? Routine turnaway crowds of around 1,500.

“Tony has created a Bullard community phenomenon,” Finks says. “What he’s done transcends basketball.”