Bo Bonnheim, a recently graduated defensive tackle from Paso Robles High, has been practicing lately with the Fresno State football team as an invited walk-on, Bearcats coach Rich Schimke said.
For now, Fresno State is looking at the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Bonnheim as someone who could develop into a center after likely redshirting, said his father, Mike. A Fresno State sports information director said Monday that the Bulldogs’ preliminary depth chart for this upcoming season would likely be released in the next few days.
Bonnheim, who has been putting in 16-hour days studying and training after relocating to the San Joaquin Valley, had been planning to play at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, his father said, until Bulldogs running-game coordinator and offensive line assistant Derek Frazier recruited him.
Bonnheim was also a standout in track and field, placing eighth in the discus at the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 championships with a mark of 149 feet, 4 inches.
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“They like his footwork and his explosiveness,” Schimke said of the Bulldogs’ staff. “He’s competing for a spot.”
Fresno State also was a good fit academically, Mike said, as his son plans to major in agriculture.
Following his senior season, Bonnheim was selected to the all-Western Division team and The Tribune’s all-San Luis Obispo County first team, and was also named the PAC 7’s Defensive Lineman of the Year. It came on the heels of his selection to ESPN RISE Cal-Hi Sports’ preseason all-SLO/Santa Barbara/Ventura counties second team.
Bonnheim drew rave reviews from local coaches all year for his strength and consistency while anchoring the Bearcats’ defensive line, and also impressed at the inaugural FCA all-star game in Santa Maria this past June.
“There were a lot of coaches who said he stood out,” Schimke said.
In the Bearcats’ 21-6 playoff win over Oxnard last fall, Bonnheim helped hold the nation’s second-leading per-game rusher, Azusa Pacific signee Terrell Watson, 96 yards below his season average of 273 coming into the game.
He also was part of a front that limited current Portland State freshman Shaquille Richard to a season-low 57 yards on 11 carries during a 41-23 loss to nationally ranked Serra of Gardena, as the Cavaliers went mostly to the air in that game.
Another defensive lineman from the Central Coast, Santa Maria High’s Mershad Dillon, signed with the Bulldogs this past February.