FRESNO, Calif. – Former Fresno State standout safety Evan Williams is now an Oregon Duck, and one of the guys hoping to step up in his absence is wearing Evan’s old number.

Assuming the No. 32 jersey this spring is new addition Dean Clark, a transfer from Kent State.

Clark is a fifth-year senior safety who went to high school in Ohio, and had some impressive moments playing in the MAC for the Golden Flashes over the last four years.

He led the team with 28 tackles in four games in the COVID-shortened season of 2020, and was a team captain who again finished with a team-leading 116 tackles on a Kent State team that reached the MAC Championship game in 2021.

A ruptured achilles limited him to four games in 2022, but because he played in only four games, he retained his redshirt year, and therefore, will have two years of eligibility remaining at Fresno State.

He has a similar build to Evan Williams, which is creating a little good-natured confusion early on in spring practice.

“I still call him E-dub sometimes,” said returning senior cornerback Carlton Johnson about Clark. “But he’s gonna be amazing for us. He’s a plug and play guy. There’s not gonna be too much fall off from Evan Williams, and we’re just ready to see what he can actually do.”

“The voice is different, so I hear a call, and I look, and I have to double-look,” said senior linebacker Levelle Bailey. “It’s very different from playing with a guy like Evan, for the four years we’ve been here.”

Williams will be hard to replace. He assumed a starting role at safety for the Bulldogs midseason as a true freshman in 2019, and started every game he was available for in the three years after that.

He was named an All-Mountain West honorable mention defensive back as a sophomore, All-Mountain West first team as a junior, and Second team All-Mountain West as a senior.

The fact that Williams is no longer a Bulldog is not that big of a surprise to Fresno State defensive backs coach J.D. Williams and head coach Jeff Tedford, but they were a little surprised he decided to enter the transfer portal.

“I thought he was going to the NFL,” said J.D. “And you know, he decided to transfer and you wish him the best, you hope the best for him, and like I say he’ll always be a Bulldog.”

“I was surprised he went in the portal,” said Tedford. “We were going back and forth with the NFL and coming back (to Fresno State), and all of a sudden, it was portal, so yeah, I was surprised at that. We all wish him well, he was a great player for us, great young man. We have a lot of respect for him, much love for him, and we wish him well.”