At a time when some of the nation’s top college coaches are heading for greener pastures and getting fresh starts, so, too, are many of their players.
While players entering the transfer portal after a coaching change is nothing new, what Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener would seem to be a rarity.
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Haener, who was one of the top passers in the country in 2021, entered the portal Nov. 30, a day after Kalen DeBoer left the Bulldogs to become the coach at Washington, only to withdraw from the portal and then apologize for the move Thursday.
“First and foremost . . . to everybody who’s in my corner and has been in my corner for the last 2.5 years at Fresno State, I want to sincerely apologize for the actions that I took and the actions that I thought were best for me and my future,” Haener said in a video posted by the team.
Haener, a senior, came to Fresno State from Washington in 2019. He finished the 2021 season ranked inside the top 10 nationally in completions and passing yards while ranking 11th in touchdowns.
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He said that DeBoer’s leaving was enticing enough for him to consider following him back to Washington.
“I didn’t know what direction Fresno State was going to go with their coaching staff, with their offense and everything was up in the air,” Haener said. “But I knew everything I had with Coach DeBoer.”
Haener also explained his reasoning for entering the portal when he did, saying academic systems played a major role.
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The Bulldogs are leaning on a familiar face to replace DeBoer: they’ve called on Jeff Tedford to lead the program again. Tedford coached the Bulldogs from 2017-19, going 26-14 with a Mountain West title in 2018 before resigning after the 2019 season for health reasons.
Tedford has a history of mentoring quarterbacks, both as a head coach and offensive coordinator. Six of his former quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, including Aaron Rodgers out of Cal when Tedford was the head coach and David Carr, who went first overall by the expansion Texans out of Fresno State in 2002 when Tedford was the offensive coordinator.
Haener will now look to become the next Tedford signal-caller to make it to the first round. Their first chance to work together will be Dec. 18 in the New Mexico Bowl against UTEP.