Raquet catches eye of Jeff Tedford

Former Balers standout Hunter Raquet has earned a scholarship to play under Jeff Tedford at Fresno State.

Describing it as a “surreal experience,” Hunter Raquet couldn’t believe he was sitting in front of Jeff Tedford, the Fresno State football coach who is known for his offensive mind and ability to bring out the best in quarterbacks. When Tedford offered Raquet—a Monterey Peninsula College freshman and former San Benito High standout—a scholarship on April 14, Raquet was floored.

“It was the first time coach Tedford had met me, and he offered which was unbelievable,” said Raquet, who attended Fresno State’s annual Spring Game before meeting Tedford in his office. “I didn’t know how to react. This is a dream come true.”

Raquet already knew the answer in his head, but in the days that followed talked everything over with his parents before making the verbal commitment to Fresno State last Thursday. Raquet will enroll at Fresno State in January 2019. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Raquet is coming off a terrific season at MPC, completing 161 of 278 passes (57.9 percent) for 2,492 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

He averaged 9.0 yards per completion with a passing efficiency rating of 154.8, ranking eighth in the state for a team that went 7-4 overall and 5-1 in the American Golden Coast Conference. Even though Raquet started playing quarterback at a young age, he never fully got to show off his skills at San Benito High, which runs the triple option.

Combine that with a player who has grown mentally and physically—Raquet got some good-natured ribbing for an innocent flexing pose in a social media post recently—and the sky does seem to be the limit for Raquet, whose running and passing skills also drew interest from San Jose State.

The Spartans offered Raquet a scholarship around the same time as Fresno State did, but Raquet ultimately chose the Bulldogs because of the program’s resurgence, Tedford and the opportunity to go to a school he had at the top of his wish list since he was a child.

“What drew me was the turnaround,” Raquet said, referring to the Bulldogs going from 1-11 in 2016 to 10-4 last season in Tedford’s first season in Fresno. “That is amazing and coach Tedford is probably one of the best quarterback coaches in the nation. To be a part of something like that is something I couldn’t pass up.”

Raquet won’t be able to sign his letter of intent until Dec. 19, meaning he is not binded to Fresno State. However, Raquet said he’s a man of his word and recognizes the value of staying true to himself and to the coach who showed faith in him first. Will Pac-12 colleges come with offers if Raquet has another spectacular season at MPC?

Most likely yes; however, Raquet said Fresno State is the best place for him—bar none.

“Verbal commitments can be broken, but when I’m committed to something, I keep my word,” Raquet said. “The character I was born with and the values my parents have instilled in me, I’m not going to bail on something like this because that is not the way I am.”

Interestingly enough, Raquet said he could tell after receiving an offer from Fresno State that other schools expressed interest in him simply for the sake so he wouldn’t choose Fresno State.

“There were some schools that wanted to take me away and didn’t want me to play for them,” he said. “One school said they would have me ready to compete for their starting QB position, and I went to their roster and their quarterback situation was settled 1-2-3 (starter and backup positions).”

In talks with Fresno State offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, wide receivers coach Kirby Moore and Tedford, Raquet said they noted his skills and how he carried himself well.

“They had this thing about me they couldn’t identify, but something they could feel, how I would fit right in with the program,” Raquet said.

The verbal commitment capped a roller coaster recruiting journey for Raquet, who didn’t receive his first contact from Fresno State until nearly two months after the season ended. That was merely an introduction from Fresno State expressing interest, and Raquet had to wait another month before hearing back from the Bulldogs coaching staff again.

The situation was stressful because Raquet thought he was an automatic qualifier, which meant he could’ve been a mid-year transfer to a four-year school had the opportunities come sooner. It was only three weeks ago when Raquet found out that he was a non-qualifier—“In the time from my senior year at Hollister the NCAA changed the grading scale I guess, and I was on the bubble,” he said—meaning Raquet will transfer into Fresno State as a junior instead of a sophomore.

“That stung a little bit, but you have to roll with the punches,” he said. “We need to win the American Division Championship Bowl, so we still have unfinished business here at MPC.”

It’s no small matter that Tedford wants Raquet as one of his quarterbacks. Tedford is most known for leading Cal to some of its best seasons in program history in 2004 and 2006, while also having an eye for quarterback talent. He recruited and coached some QB named Aaron Rogers at Cal.

“Not to toot my own horn, but the fact that coach Tedford has a great eye for quarterbacks means a lot to me,” Raquet said. “His recruiting past has been phenomenal, and I’m just honored to be a part of it. It’s been a dream of mine to come to Fresno State. They’ve got a passionate fan base, and I’ve already had alumni commenting welcoming me and how great it’ll be to be a part of this program.”

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