Berkeley (Calif.) inside linebacker Michael Lazarus is ready to make it official with Fresno State, but that hasn't stopped him from trying to improve his game. FSBulldogs caught up with the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Lazarus at B2G Camp this weekend and he was more than happy to reaffirm his commitment to the Bulldogs.
"Yeah, I'm 100% Bulldog," Lazarus said. "100% 'Dog. I'm switching nowhere else. I'm staying with the 'Dogs. These type of events, they help me break out my talent, help me get a look at the next level of what I'm going to be up against. It's just bettering me, preparing me, and getting me a little more ahead of the game before I step into Fresno."
For Lazarus, the competition at camps like B2G gives him a chance to test his skills against the best football players the nation has to offer.
"It's been going fun. I mean, all these group of guys, some haven't seen since last B2G camp: Denzel Fish, Jordan Lasley, a couple other people. But, yeah, it's a fun experience, meeting all the new talent and just what the whole nation has to offer. I like the competition. A lot of s-talking. But, I mean, it's good. It's good. It boosts up your mentality. It's just a fun experience playing with this group of guys."
For Lazarus, the decision to stick with the Bulldogs was an easy one. Head coach Tim DeRuyter and his staff have put together a defensive game-plan that has recruits excited to come to Fresno.
"It's because of Coach Nick Toth and Coach DeRuyter," Lazarus said. "They're a great group of coaches. Coach DeRuyter, he has a defensive mindset, came from Texas A&M. So, they're all about defense. That's what I'm all about. I feel like they'll mold me into a fine, young man and a better prospect, helping me reach the next level after college. Plus, I like the team, what they have to offer and the defensive schemes. I feel like it fits me and my talent. I just want to go in, become a great impact and just add on to the history that Coach DeRuyter has put on with the team. Basically, I just love the whole vibe and everything."
If there was anyone questioning whether or not DeRuyter's philosophy on offense and defense has had an impact in recruiting, Lazarus is ready to put those concerns to bed right now. Lazarus believes the Fresno State family is only starting to grow.
"Coach DeRuyter, he came in…," Lazarus said. "Before DeRuyter, Fresno State was good but Coach DeRuyter -- he came in and added his own spice to the team. Everything seemed to pick up. The team seems livelier. Everybody is just moving around faster. The team has more livelihood to them, so everybody seems more happy and welcome since Coach DeRuyter's been here. I like that. I just want to go in and really just add on to the family. Just become a great winning team."
And though Lazarus is one of the higher-rated players in this recruiting class, he sees the entire program as one chalk-full of talent. If anything, Lazarus believes teams should be less worried about individuals and more worried about the Bulldogs as a unit.
"Honestly, as far as stars, it's really no big thing to me," Lazarus said. "They say at Fresno State, there's no really big time guys in there. But really, I think all those guys, to me, honestly, I think they should be named big guys. They all have talent. That's why they're in there. That's why we're competing with the best of the best. Opening up with USC. Even though we lost to them in the bowl game, we're still going to open up with them. We're going to show them that we're ready to play with the big dogs.
"That's why I love being the underdog. Love being the underdog. Once we play these big teams, open up with USC and send this message out to them: We're coming for their heads. I'm getting my redemption. We're coming back stronger, bigger, better, faster, everything. So, playing against all these big teams, I feel like it's good for us. It puts more attention on us to let everybody know that, the nation know that we're not scared to play against competition. We've got Nebraska at home, third game. That's going to be the biggest game. I'm just ready to shell-out this season. That's all really."
So confident is Lazarus in the future of Fresno State, he's selling it on other people as he participates in camps. This includes some prospects the Bulldogs are looking at.
"There's a couple guys I'm trying to get on with me," Lazarus said. "Like Dionte Sykes. He's committed to San Diego State right now, but I'm trying to see. He's a big receiver, like 6-foot-4, like 205-pounds. I'm trying to get him to come down to Fresno State with me. I've been talking to Denzel Fisher. I'm trying to get him down here with me, too. But other than that, yeah, I mean, if guys want to come on board, they can come on board. Really, we have some works in the making."
As for what those works were, Lazarus wouldn't get too specific. He respects the process his friends are going through and is just happy he has a chance to live out a dream. He issue a challenge to those people, though
"There's a couple guys who have visited, but I don't know," Lazarus said. "Really, everybody's signing their commitments. I respect that. Glad everybody's committed somewhere, but if they want to become a 'Dog, that's the challenge right there. That's the challenge."
It's a challenge Lazarus has accepted and the Bulldogs are certainly happy he has.
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the 2014 Fresno State recruiting class.
Josh Webb is a Staff Writer for FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.