When Jeff Tedford took over the Fresno State football program in 2017, the Bulldogs were coming off a one-win campaign. He turned them into Mountain West Conference champions in a blink.
In 2016, the Bulldogs were an abysmal 1-11. Then Tedford took over in 2017 and Fresno State went 12-2 in 2018, beating Boise State for the conference title en route to a win over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The only thing Tedford seemingly hasn’t done is sign a high school football player out of Kern County, a former hotbed of talent for the lone FBS program in the Central Valley.
That can be checked off now as Centennial senior defensive end Colby Warkentin signed with Fresno State on the first day of the regular signing period for football on Wednesday.
“It’s very cool. I have a lot of respect for Tedford and everything he has done at Fresno so far,” Warkentin said. “I am just ready to get up there and keep it going.”
Warkentin, a two-year starter and captain this season for the Golden Hawks, will play defensive end for the Bulldogs, he said. He played on both sides of the ball for Centennial, racking up 84 tackles, 27 for tackles for loss and eight sacks on defense. He caught five passes for 57 yards as a tight end.
“Today is huge. It’s the final day where I am committing myself to Fresno and I couldn’t be more excited to be a Bulldog,” Warkentin said.
With just six Kern County high school football players committing to Division I college programs this season, Warkentin — who was also recruited by Nevada and San Jose — knows how fortunate he is to earn a scholarship for school and continue playing football.
“I’ve worked so hard. I came (into high school) at 180 pounds. I was small,” Warkentin said. “But I kept working and I really worked for everything I have.”
Warkentin now stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs close to 235 pounds.
“Playing college football, since I began playing football, has been the biggest dream I could ever have,” Warkentin said. “I am fulfilling that and going up there and playing there means a lot.”
Warkentin said he chose Fresno State because of the relationship he has with the coaching staff and the fact that he can represent his hometown just two hours north.
“There is huge saying up there is, ‘Valley born, Valley bred.’ That’s huge,” Warkentin said. “It’s huge coming from the Valley and representing the Valley. I have a relationship with every single coach up there. The players have all been super cool and supportive.”