Fresno State lost Patrick Kim before he could play a single down of football, the junior college transfer going down in spring practices with a neck injury. He has taken a medical retirement. And that leaves the Bulldogs with a huge question in the middle of their line, which remained unsettled through the spring outside of returning starters Austin Wentworth at left tackle and Cody Wichmann at right guard.
Lars Bramer worked with the No. 1 offense at center through the spring. But, ideally, they are looking for a bigger body there, a 300-pounder with presence.
‘’You’d love to have a 300-pound guy who can move,’’ coach Tim DeRuyter said. ‘’Patrick was like 290 or so, and was closer to that.
”Lars, he’s got to get himself up into that range and he knows, he knows this is his last go at it and he feels a sense of urgency to get there.’’
With one week remaining in the Bulldogs’ offseason strength and conditioning program, Bramer, a senior from Buchanan High, is in fact closing in on that number and improved his strength.
He is at 282 pounds, after playing at 274 or so last season.
‘’That’s huge for him and you see the improvements in the strength when we start putting on some weight (when lifting) with those guys,’’ strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese said. ‘’And Lars is a guy, movement-wise, that has gotten a lot better, just from pure running mechanics and things. He’s really cleaned up some of that stuff that he had going on.’’
Boese is confident the 6-foot-5 Bramer can carry 290 good pounds, but the question, as it was a year ago, is whether he will be able to hold it through the season.
Bramer started the first seven games a year ago, then missed a game when suspended for a violation of athletic department policy. When he returned, the Bulldogs had gone to a bigger lineup up front, with Richard Helepiko moving in at center from a guard spot, and he never regained playing time.
‘’Lars knows that and we’ve been pounding Lars about making sure he’s eating and what he’s putting in his diet and those things,’’ Boese said. ‘’He’s done well in here, from where he started to where he is now strength-wise, he’s gotten a lot better. And it’s important to Lars, which is huge.
‘’He knows he’s going to have to be a huge part anchoring that line and making sure we’re not getting that bull rush. When he sees a guy like Tyeler Davison (in practice) or that guy from Boise last year, that, ‘Hey, I’m not putting a move on you, I’m lining up right in front of you and I’m putting a bull rush on you,’ he knows that from last year now and that offensive line continues to grow.’’