Preseason All-Big Sky Conference offensive lineman Tyler Worthley is happy that his Sacramento State teammates and coaches have welcomed him back after he initially considered not playing his senior year.
Worthley, a Big Sky second-team selection at right guard last season, wasn't with the Hornets during spring practice.
"Football wasn't the issue," said Worthley, from Dublin in the Bay Area. "It was more personal and issues with school. I don't think I was thinking straight at the time."
It didn't take the fifth-year Hornet long to realize how much he missed football.
"I thought of all the good times I had out here and all the hard work I had put into it," Worthley said. "To not finish my senior season, where the most fun happens, I decided I didn't want to give that up."
So the 6-foot-3, 330-pound Worthley "took a new approach" and made his presence felt in the classroom "by sitting in front of class, letting my teachers know who I am, taking notes and going to study hall."
He shored up his grades and met some conditioning and weight loss demands that led to his reinstatement by coach Marshall Sperbeck.
"We're glad he's back," Sperbeck said. "He's a good kid, a good player and on the right track."
Worthley is now trying to work his way back onto the first team. He's the team's most experienced player, having started Sac State's past 33 games.
"We have 35 new players, and they're all hungry to play," Sperbeck said. "So each year, you come in, and you've got to win a job."
Last year, Worthley helped the Hornets' offense average 163.5 rushing yards and allowing only 17 sacks in 11 games.
"I'm excited to be back," Worthley said shortly after completing a series of grueling "gassers" on Saturday, trying to get in shape after his first week back. "I'm just working hard and doing a little catching up because my team needs me."
Making his move After one week of practice, true freshman Jihad Vercher is making a strong bid to back up starting quarterback Garrett Safron.
"He's making progress every day," Sperbeck said after Saturday's double-day practice. "He's a talented guy who is making the most of his opportunities so far. I think he has a bright future."
Though undersized at 5-foot-11, Vercher was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com at Bishop Mora Salesian High School in Los Angeles and had at least four other scholarship offers, including from Hornets' Big Sky rivals Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona.
The 210-pound Vercher passed for 85 touchdowns and accounted for 6,612 total yards in his last two prep seasons.
"There were some other schools after him, so we were fortunate to get him," said Sperbeck.
Vercher is battling Fresno State sophomore transfer Marcus McDade, who prepped at St. Mary's of Stockton, and freshman walk-on Daniel Kniffin of Rocklin.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Nolan Sorensen from Buchanan High School in Clovis has left the team.
Although he has an apartment four minutes from campus, new UC Davis coach Ron Gould has hardly spent any time there.
"I got the place a month and a half ago, and I've stayed there maybe four times," Gould said. "I'd rather go home and be with my wife."
Teresa Kuehn Gould is a deputy athletic director at Cal, where Gould worked for 16 seasons as an assistant football coach before getting the UC Davis job. They have two teenage sons.
"She was a national Administrator of the Year, so she's the big guy in our house," Gould said.
The Goulds live in Pleasant Hill, near Concord, so they almost split the commute to their respective universities.
"I'm two minutes from the freeway, and it's a reverse commute," Gould said. "So I'm always going the opposite of the traffic."
It doesn't hurt that he gets to campus early in the morning and leaves late at night.
Gould said his wife encouraged him to apply for the UC Davis job.
"Every day I learn something new about the university; I learn something new about being a head coach," Gould said.
Williams rehabbing Gould said former Davis High School running back Courtney Williams, who scored six touchdowns last season for the Aggies as a true freshman, will seek a medical redshirt after having knee surgery. He was injured during spring ball.
"Every day I see him, every day I talk to this young man, he gives me energy, he gives me life because he's so positive," Gould said. " 'Coach, coach, I can walk now. Coach, I'm riding my bike now.' He's working his butt off to get back."
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.