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DeCosta walks on at Fresno

Manteca High grad playing as linebacker

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DeCosta walks on at Fresno

Adam DeCosta

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POSTED August 12, 2013 1:16 a.m.

When the Manteca High football squad lost on the opening night of the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason on Nov. 20, 2009 against Casa Roble, 35-28, the squad’s defensive captain Adam DeCosta didn’t think he would ever play football again.

The Buffaloes were dejected after blowing a 21-3 halftime lead at their own Guss Schmiedt Field, which included a 21-0 fourth-quarter run by the visitors.

The Manteca linebacker, listed as 5-foot-6 on the Buffaloes’ 2009-10 roster, just didn’t think he was big enough to continue playing at the next level.

“I was going to stop playing because of my size, I was 170 pounds out of high school,” DeCosta stated. “I figured my playing days were over. I thought my cleats were getting hung up for good.”

That wasn’t the case.

He ended up pursuing Fresno City College and sending in his highlight tape. His older sister was already a student at Fresno State University.

The Fresno City coaches gave him an interview in July 2010 and invited him to practice with the team two hours later, according to DeCosta.

That blossomed into two successful years at the JUCO level – and after one year away because of NCAA eligibility issues – DeCosta has made the Fresno State football roster and is listed a generous 5-foot-8 as a walk-on linebacker.

He’s been practicing with the team since Aug. 2 and is fighting to make a spot on the travel roster.

And he’s holding his own, too.

“From JC, it’s extremely faster,” he said. “There are a lot better athletes now and the whole team is (Division I). But you adapt to the speed, and if you don’t you don’t keep up. It’s hard competing with guys who are on scholarship and have been there for three years, but I just go and try my hardest.”

Fresno State was picked by the Associated Press as a heavy favorite to win the West Division of the Western Athletic Conference. Boise State is favored to win the Mountain division.

The Bulldogs’ first game of the season is against Rutgers Aug. 29 in Fresno.

“I’m by far the shortest linebacker on the team,” said DeCosta, who is majoring in kinesiology with a sports administration emphasis. “Right now, they’re trying to see who wants it and whose good enough to come to (the road games).

“That’s all we talk about as a team is ‘anything less than a championship isn’t really accepted’. There’s no reason why we can’t win a championship with all the talent we have.”

The Bulldgos will have one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Derek Carr, and local products Josh Haprer (WR, St. Mary’s) and Isaiah Burse (WR, Modesto Christian).

DeCosta will be playing with the Bulldogs after missing the entire 2012 season. During the year before last, five days into practice with Fresno State, DeCosta found out that some of his units from City weren’t transferable to the four-year.

That made him athletically ineligible and forced him to burn his red-shirt year.

That was DeCosta’s first fall not playing the game since was six years old.

“It was definitely hard,” he said. “It was different watching it, but I kept working out and I got a lot bigger. At Fresno City I (weighed) 190 and right now I’m at 202. And I’ve got a lot faster and dropped my body fat to 6%.”

DeCosta has already finished his junior year academically at CSU, Fresno. He still has two more years left of football eligibility as well.

During his sophomore year at Fresno City he started all 11 games, including a loss against San Francisco State in the Northern California Championship. The team finished 10-1 and DeCosta ranked third on the team in tackles.

At Manteca, he was a first-team All-Valley Oak League player junior and senior year. He was also the team’s defensive MVP as well both seasons. DeCosta had 84 tackles as a senior, three interceptions and forced two fumbles as the captain and holder of the honorary Shepherd’s Stick.

“I had a couple of Division II scholarships and a lot of little schools like NAIA and DIII’s, but I felt like I was better than that,” DeCosta said. “Of course I’m not on scholarship, but I felt like I could play at a higher level.”

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