FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Spring football 2022 gave us a chance to both look back and look forward at the same time.

“It’s been awesome, enjoyed every single day,” said Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford. “The coaching staff has done a great job.”

Most notably, spring football marked the return of Tedford to the practice field.

“Couple of guys came out (Saturday) from the ’82 team, and we were out there in the middle of the field kind of reminiscing out there on the field,” smiled Tedford. “Things like that, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Also back were numerous assistant coaches with Bulldog ties, such as former Fresno State defensive stars Jethro Franklin and Tim Skipper. They are coaching the defensive line and the linebackers respectively.

“I feel like a lot of people are gonna sleep on our defense this year,” said senior defensive tackle Matt Lawson. “We have great coaches that have been here before and played here, and bring the passion every day. And they wanna see us succeed, so that’s the best part about it. They wanna see the place, their alma mater, succeed.”

And that defense was impressive in the spring preview on Saturday, finishing with three interceptions and at least seven sacks.

“Our major point of emphasis was being that defense that is relentless, that’s flying all over the field,” said senior defensive back Evan Williams. “That when you’re watching us, you can’t help but say, ‘damn, these guys do not stop.”

The media was not allowed to record any of the 11-on-11 scrimmage action during the spring. However, the talent was on display during individual drills.

“The more we start to bond and do things over this summer, you know, and build on the things we’ve been doing the last 2-3 years, it’s just gonna continue to improve,” said senior quarterback Jake Haener.

The headliners are the returning ‘J Boys:’ quarterback Jake Haener, receiver Jalen Cropper and running back Jordan Mims.

“Man, we don’t even know, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we’re capable of,” said Cropper. “I feel like Jake’s improved, I feel like our receiver room has improved.”

Haener specifically is coming off a season in which he threw for 4,000 yards and 33 touchdowns. He is committed to being better in 2022.

“He’s gained probably ten pounds now of really good weight, really done a nice job with his nutrition,” said Tedford. “He’s really into it, great student of the game, great leader. Just to see him each and every day, he does some things that are pretty amazing sometimes, you know?”

And there is depth at the skill positions as well, especially at receiver where the Bulldogs return seven of their top eight at that position.

In addition, they added grad transfer Nikko Remigio from Cal, who has played in 36 career games in the Pac-12.

“Only one goal, number one goal, you know: Mountain West Championship,” said Cropper.

“That’s the only goal I have in mind.”