New Defense Rejuvenates Shawn Plummer

Aug. 17, 2012

By Jason Clay

FRESNO, Calif. - Growing up as a kid in Fresno, Shawn Plummer never had any doubt in his mind where he would be going to college.

Shawn's father, Pat, played football at Fresno State in the early 70s under Bulldog head coach Darryl Rodgers. Pat was a first-team All-Pacific Coast Athletic Association guard as a senior in 1972. His mother, Micki, was an Olympic volleyball athlete.

Both parents coached at Hoover High School in Fresno - Pat coached the football team and Micki the Volleyball team. When Shawn was growing up, he was not only at all of his father's practices, but at every Bulldog football game on Saturday's.

"From when I was a little kid I always knew I'd end up here no matter what happened," Plummer said. "I'm glad I ended up here, it's been a great ride and I can't wait to finish it."

After a stellar prep career at Clovis High School, where he recorded 101 tackles and was all-conference as a senior, Shawn walked on at Fresno State in 2008.

Plummer appeared in all 13 games that season as a true freshman. He had 25 tackles playing on special teams and in nickel and dime coverage situations on defense.

By his sophomore season, he was put on a full athletic scholarship and has played in all 39 Fresno State games from 2008-10, making five starts and recording 84 tackles.

Then came his senior season in 2011, a year in which he redshirted because of lingering injuries and offseason abdominal surgery.

"It was probably the toughest time of my life having to go through that," he said about missing last season.

Plummer returned for spring football last March and has been one of the biggest playmakers on the defense through the first half of fall camp.

"We got everything fixed and I feel like I've come back faster and stronger than ever," he said about his recovery. "I'm glad I get one year under this new coaching staff because I like the defense and playing in spring ball is the most fun time I've ever had playing football so far."

Head coach Tim DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth implemented a new attacking 3-4 defense, a system that perfectly fits Plummer's talents.

Toth says Plummer is more of a hybrid guy. He is a guy with great speed blitzing off the edge, can make plays in space and drop back in coverage.

"Shawn Plummer is really playing well," Toth said about his performance in fall camp.

Now with a second chance for his senior season, Plummer plans to go out with a bang.

"It's fun to come to practice," Plummer said earlier this week. "You get to run around, you get to be free and you get to make plays. [This defense] allows each individual to be the playmakers they are."

Plummer jokingly said he set a goal for him to get two sacks a game this season. That might not be all that farfetched because DeRuyter and Toth's defense at Texas A&M last year led the nation with 51 sacks.

He also wants to be a part of getting the community to rally around the Bulldog football team. He's seen it as a kid and is one of just two players on the team (with Rashad Evans) that played in the 2008 game against Hawai'i, which was the last game Fresno State had a crowd of over 40,000 in Bulldog Stadium.

"The community has always been a big part of our success and when we're doing well they rally around us. It's like a catapult - they shoot us into the next game," he said.

"Knowing that they are going to be there for us on Saturday's is a big part of it, you want to play for your home crowd and you want to see them out there," Plummer continued. "I've seen it in the past and the game that sticks out in my mind as a kid was the [2001] Oregon State game and it was sold out. Everyone was chanting `overrated' and all 40,000, or however many, were on their feet the entire game.

"Having that adrenaline and power behind you, knowing there are 40,000 people cheering you on is empowering, it's a great feeling."

If Plummer can help turn the defense around and lead the Bulldogs to a Mountain West championship, he'll be giving Fresno State fans the same great feeling.

"Discover Fresno State Football" - Fresno State season tickets are now on sale for as low as $140, less than $24 per game, through the Bulldog Ticket Office, online at and can be purchased over the phone at 559-278-DOGS. Remember to vote every day for Fresno State at and wear your Bulldog red on Aug. 31 for College Colors Day.