As Fresno State wide receiver Greg Watson left Bulldog Stadium after the final spring practice on a cold and crisp Friday morning, he had lots of reasons to be excited about the upcoming season for him and the rest of his Bulldogs' teammates.
"That first game against Rutgers," Watson said. "It's going to be a big game, on ESPN on a Thursday to start off the season against them. I'm ready for that game."
Despite Watson's exuberance about playing a big time opponent on national TV, both he and the Bulldogs have a few kinks to work out and some rust to wipe off as they enter the final days of spring ball.
The last day of practice for Watson and the Bulldogs was marked by little contact but a lot of mental and technical challenges meant to prepare them for the Real California Milk Spring Football game on Saturday and when fall practice begins.
"We took the pads off; it was all mental, getting your steps right," Watson said. "It was a good mental day."
Watson and the rest of his Bulldogs' teammates will have a chance to show the fans for the first time all of the progress that has been made this spring during the last three and a half weeks.
Personally, for Watson, he will get a chance to show all he's got at a position that's still fairly new to him-wide receiver.
"We know who our starters are going to be," Watson said. "For the backups, it's about our chance to show that we're ready to play next year."
When Watson came to the Bulldogs', he was a backup quarterback to Derek Carr. However, the 5-foot-10, 211 pound junior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has made the conversion to wide receiver full-time, adding talent to a deep receiving corps that already contains players such as Davonte Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper.
This spring is the first time in which Watson has taken full reps at the position. As a result, he's been tested physically and emotionally while basically learning a new position. "It's more difficult than I thought it would be," Watson said. "It's more physical; it has its' ups and its downs."
Last season, Watson did a little of everything to help the Bulldogs win. In addition to backing up Derek Carr, he also had 23 rushes for 65 yards and three touchdowns. And as a receiver, he caught four passes for 50 yards.
Following his contributions to the offense last season, Watson decided to make the position change to wide receiver full time. "I played quarterback all season last year, spreading out at receiver sometimes." Watson said. "By the end of the year, I decided to play receiver for this season."
Sometimes, learning a new position can be a bumpy and somewhat frustrating road to travel. But for Watson, playing quarterback has allowed him to ease in to the position with very little frustration. "Now I know the whole offense," Watson said. "I know everything I have to do as a receiver, just to have the finesse to do what I have to do."
Despite playing in a receiving corps that is loaded with depth and talent, Watson is excited about his role and opportunities in the offense. And as his role expands, so too will Derek Carr's options in the receiving game. "It's really all up to me," he said. "If I work hard, hopefully it will all pay off."
When Watson takes the field on Saturday for the Real California Milk Spring game, he will have a chance to showcase his growth and talent as a full time wide receiver this spring. So far, he has the attitude to succeed. As for the talent, the best is yet to come.
The Bulldogs practiced with helmets but no pads on the final day of practice.
Free safety Derron Smith and cornerback Sean Alston were amongst a small group of players who finished this spring with injuries. Smith was on crutches and his right leg was immobilized in a brace.
Following their stretching sessions, the team huddled together to hear some words from DeRuyter. Then, they broke off in to individual units.
The offense appeared to be working on some agility drills.
The defense appeared to be working on coverage and light tackling drills.
After the individual units finished, the linemen left for the practice field.
Defensive back Jamal Ellis was doing quick catch and footwork drills with wide receivers' Davante Adams, Josh Harper, Anthony Riggins and Justin Johnson.
The quarterbacks were working on quick hand off drills with the running backs.
The running backs worked on agility and cut drills with cones and obstacles.
You can follow Rudy Rendon on Twitter at @rendonrudy.