Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter on JC transfer Rodney Mathews

Fresno State head football coach Tim DeRuyter speaks to the media after last weekend’s 48-15 victory against Air Force clinching a share of the Mountain West championship in the Bulldog’s first season in the conference. Photographed on Monday, November 26, 2012, in Fresno. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

Phillip Thomas, the first unanimous All-American in Fresno State history, is at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week, to be put under the microscope and work out for NFL coaches, scouts and executives, leaving a substantial hole in a Bulldogs’ defense that made a remarkable transition under the 3-4 schemes brought in by Coach Tim DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth.

Thomas, also a Jim Thorpe Award finalist, led the nation with interceptions with eight (returning three for TDs to set a school record) and was the Bulldogs’ top tackler with 82.

Defensive backs were a huge priority for Fresno State in the 2013 recruiting class before Thomas had his huge senior season, and the Bulldogs have oral commitments in advance of the Feb. 6 national letter of intent signing day from Donnell Vercher from Fresno City College and Justin Holmes from Edison High and already signed Rodney Mathews from Citrus College in Glendora to build some depth and competition at the strong and free safety positions.

Under NCAA rules, DeRuyter and the Bulldogs staff cannot comment on recruits until after a letter of intent has been signed. But Mathews (6-foot, 195 pounds) has enrolled in school and will participate in spring practices.

Here is DeRuyter on Mathews:

‘’With us losing Phillip, we had a big-time need there. We have some young guys – you know, Charles Washington did some good things on special teams, but he has to learn the defense better. But we just don’t have a lot of veteran guys. Dalen Jones we think is going to be a guy, but we didn’t feel good enough that he’s established himself enough yet so we wanted to bring some competition in there. Mathews is a guy, he’s played against good competition, he’s physical, he plays the ball extremely well. I think he’s going to have a chance to come in and right away, be in here in the spring, and establish that he can be the starter or at least compete for it.’’ Read more →

JC transfers Burrell, Kim and Mathews enroll at Fresno State

Brian Burrell fires off a pass for Bakersfield College. (BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN)

Quarterback Brian Burrell, offensive lineman Patrick Kim and safety Rodney Mathews have enrolled in classes at Fresno State as mid-year junior college transfers and will be able to work out with the team and participate in spring football practices, which are scheduled to begin on Feb. 25.

“I’m really excited about Rodney, Patrick and Brian joining our team,” Coach Tim DeRuyter said, in a statement released through the athletic department. “To have them here for the spring semester will give them a great opportunity to compete for a position as well as get a jump on their academic progress.

”These are outstanding young men with strong character and solid academic backgrounds. I look forward to seeing them compete this spring.”

Burrell (6-foot4, 210 pounds) led Bakersfield College to the 2012 CCCAA State Championship last season with an 11-2 record. He was a CCCFCA Region IV all-state first-team selection and selected to the Northern Conference first-team in the Southern California Football Association.

He threw for 2,555 yards with 27 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Burrell will have three years to complete his two remaining seasons of eligibility.

Mathews (6-0, 190), from Citrus College, was a 2011 first-team All-West Conference selection and in 2012 was selected to the CCCFCA Region IV all-state first-team. He set a Owls’ record with 54 solo tackles in 2012 and had a team-high 89 total tackles on the season. In his career at Citrus, Mathews racked up 158 tackles, ranks second in school history with nine interceptions and third with 14 pass breakups.

He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Kim (6-3, 295) was a walk-on at USC coming out of Chino Hills Ayala High, redshirting in 2010 and did not play in 2011. He transferred to Mount San Antonio College where he helped the Mounties average 421.5 total yards and 34.6 points playing both at guard and at center. Mt. SAC fell to Bakersfield College in the 2012 CCCAA State Championship game.

Kim will have two years to complete his two remaining years of eligibility.