Sacramento State recruiting coordinator Aaron Ingram traveled countless miles through the air and along the highways and byways of the Western United States this winter, and the effort paid off with what Ingram and coach Marshall Sperbeck said could be the school's best recruiting class since Sperbeck took over in 2007.
UC Davis signed 15 players Wednesday, but none from the Sacramento area. That may have to do with new Aggies coach Ron Gould's relative late start on the recruiting trail. Gould was hired to replace Bob Biggs in mid-December. By then, Ingram had already logged thousands of miles.
The Hornets signed 17 players, and that group joined nine midyear transfers already enrolled for the spring semester. The 26 new Hornets include four transfers from four-year schools, four community college transfers and 18 high school seniors. Eight are offensive linemen. Including the midyear transfers, Sperbeck's staff signed nine Sacramento-area players.
"Without a doubt, it's the best class we've had since we've been here," Ingram said. "We covered some needs and beefed up our offensive and defensive lines."
The Hornets return 17 starters from last year's 6-5 squad. Locals who decided to stay near home include linebacker Cole Hannum of Nevada Union High School, defensive back Marcus Green of Franklin and tight end Stone Sander of Placer, who participated in a signing ceremony alongside teammate Eddie Vanderdoes, who's headed to Notre Dame.
"It was awesome," Sander said of the event and his decision. "It was fun to commit to the next chapter of my life. Sac State has a great program that's been getting better and better, and their graduation rate is high. It'll be a great place for me."
Jihad Vercher, a quarterback from Salesian-Los Angeles, was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. He verbally committed to Sac State in December and said he knew he made the right decision when he made his official visit to the campus Jan. 25.
"Right away, coach Ingram and I hit it off," said Vercher, who threw for 2,128 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for 901 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. "The Big Sky is a conference that likes to throw the ball. Eastern Washington recruited me hard, too, but I felt much better at Sac State."
Gould doesn't even have a residence in Davis, he said his wife will find them an apartment this week. Gould and his new staff have been on the recruiting trail pretty much every day since he was hired Dec. 18, so hotels and motels were home.
Gould said he was particularly pleased with his staff's haul of linemen eight of the signees play in the trenches.
"It's a high premium for offensive and defensive linemen, and we're very pleased with the young men that we were able to get," Gould said in a release. "Overall, we're very pleased with the class. We battled some (Western Athletic Conference) schools and Mountain West schools on a lot of these kids. Anytime you're able to get those kind of players, we're heading in the right direction with the program."