Redshirt freshman safety Dalen Jones made the most of his opportunities this spring. The 6-foot-1, 185 pounder from Richmond (Calif.) started at free safety for the Bulldogs in the spring game.
Jones got the nod to start after Derron Smith went down with an ankle injury. It wrapped up a very successful spring football session for Jones.
"Spring was really good," Jones said. "I played strong safety my redshirt freshman year, so coming into the spring I had a real good feeling. Derron took me under his wing and he really helped me out at the free safety spot."
While redshirting as a true freshman, Jones tried to absorb everything he could from Smith as well as former defensive backs coach Tim McDonald and new Washington Redskins safety Phillip Thomas.
"I learned a lot from Phil," Jones said. "He helped me work on my tackling a lot because he is a real physical guy. We broke down film together and having Coach Mac there at the same time as me was a real good thing as a freshman coming in.
"I was watching the NFL Draft and I am so happy for Phil. He worked hard for that. I talked to him and he said he is excited for it."
With his redshirt season behind him, spring football moved a lot faster as Jones fought for a spot on the depth chart.
"In spring ball Coach [Nick] Toth was making us move real fast," he said. "Like with 7-on-7 there is only one defense out there because the offense has another huddle in the back ready to go. So if a receiver is down field we have to run back and forth so everybody is moving around at the same time."
With Tim McDonald moved on to the NFL, David Brown came in and took over coaching Jones and the rest of the safeties.
"Coach Brown is a great guy, we have meetings with him once a week and he has been teaching me a lot," he said. "I think he is like another Coach Mac. He has a lot of wisdom on the game and he knows how to break it down for young players like myself."
During the offseason summer workouts, Jones is trying to step up his game.
"I am working on getting faster," he said. "I am working on my speed and my hips a lot more. That is what [strength and conditioning] coach [Joey] Boese is doing with all of us. We lift in the mornings and then we run in the afternoons.
"I think it is going to be a great summer. Everybody is at the workouts and everybody is competing too."
Expect the Bulldog defense to improve over last season if the players are able to stick to head coach Tim DeRuyter's defensive philosophy.
"On defense I want to be fast, physical and fanatical, that is what Coach DeRuyter says."
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the Fresno State 2014 recruiting class. You can follow us on Twitter at @FresnoDogs.