It may have been a preferred walk-on offer that got extended to him, but San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) wide receiver/linebacker Chris Paz decided that Fresno State was his top destination all along.
Paz - who shined as a tall, physical and versatile two-way standout during his three-year varsity career and got courted by the likes of Hawaii, Cornell and Washington State – took the Bulldogs’ pledge and signed his Letter of Intent with the local university on National Signing Day, which took place on Wednesday.
For the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Paz, suiting up for the Bulldogs becomes a childhood fantasy fulfilled.
“I've always dreamed of being a Bulldog ever since I was a kid,” Paz said. “I used to go to their games all the time.”
Paz, who was born in Parlier and played through the Reedley Buccaneers’ youth football system, adds that the new coaches coming to Fresno State was a key factor in his decision. Two of those coaches will get a chance to teach Paz the college football ways: new tight ends coach Joe Bernardi and offensive coordinator Eric Keisau.
“I love the coaching staff and the new coaches they're bringing in,” Paz said. “I loved the new offensive coach Kiesau. He's very excited about me and I love the position that he wants me to play (inside slot receiver).”
Paz’s signing gave Fresno State a significant recruiting victory from its own backyard. The 3-9 Bulldogs wound up fending off a Mountain West rival that actually offered him a full-ride scholarship, an Ivy League program that recognized him for his grades and a PAC-12 powerhouse that made a run at him late. He joins another 559 star on the cross streets of Bulldog Lane and Shaw Avenue: Hanford High athlete Juwuane Hughes, who signed his LOI with the ‘Dogs on NSD.
Despite the dismal 2015-16 season and the late hiring of the new assistant coaches, Paz is enamored by Fresno State’s 2016 class.
“I love our recruiting class. We have a lot of guys who can help win us some championships,” Paz said.
Also, Paz doesn’t forget about his humble beginnings. He’s reminded that where he comes from, his community isn’t considered the biggest hotbed for talent.
“Being a kid from Parlier/Reedley, I'm truly blessed to have this opportunity,” Paz said. “Where I’m from, not many kids make it out to play division one college football. It just shows the younger guys that anything is possible with hard work and patience. It's crazy to think that my dreams have come true. No matter where you're from, follow your dreams.”