Senior Randy Wright, left, has thrown for 7,092 yards and 44 touchdowns in three seasons as the Aggies' quarterback.

UC Davis QB Wright seeks winning season to cap career

Published: Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 - 5:57 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013 - 8:40 am

On the eve of his senior year, UC Davis quarterback Randy Wright is among some heady company on the Aggies' career statistical lists.

He ranks No. 4 in passing yards (7,092) and total offense (6,817), ahead of former Aggies greats Ken O'Brien, Scott Barry, Jeff Bridewell, Chris Petersen, Mark Grieb and Mike Moroski. In each, he's one spot behind Kevin Daft, UC Davis' new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.

Wright, a Santa Rosa native, is tied for sixth in career touchdown passes (44) with O'Brien, a former New York Jets quarterback and first-round pick in 1983.

Not that Wright knew any of this until queried by a reporter last week.

"I have not looked at that list once," Wright said. "Obviously, I know about coach Daft, Ken O'Brien, Moroski and some of the other great ones that have been here. But whenever I hear about it, it's from the media or someone in my ear.

"I just put a smile on my face. I'm my own person. I've made my own path."

That isn't meant with any disrespect.

It's just that the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Wright isn't sure if he belongs in the same conversation with that company - yet. His predecessors help lead the Aggies though 37 consecutive winning seasons, 20 straight conference championships and several playoff berths. UC Davis moved to Division I in 2007.

"My record hasn't shown that I'm a good player here because (at UC Davis) you are judged on wins and losses," he said. "But I'm coming out here working and trying to get better every day. That's all I can bank on at the end of the day."

So, more than any of his teammates, Wright is looking forward to this season, which starts Saturday at South Dakota.

While Wright's statistics are impressive since he became the starter as a redshirt freshman in 2010, his 14-19 overall record is not.

This season, there is a new coach, a new attitude and a new buzz around Davis.

Wright is just trying to make sure there isn't a new quarterback, too.

Wright's competition has been keen with junior London Lacy and sophomore Jimmy Laughrea, a former Rocklin High School star who transferred from Boise State.

New coach Ron Gould hasn't publicly named a starter.

"We'll know soon enough," Wright said. "Our position is very deep this year. Any three of us could take this team as far as it can go."

Wright's "team-first" attitude has endeared him to his coaches and teammates even if his place in Aggies history is still in question.

"I love Randy," junior left tackle Ian Josephsaid. "He leads by example and is always the picture of quiet strength."

Gould also has appreciated Wright's maturity and leadership through the coaching change.

"Randy is doing a great job for us," Gould said. "He commands the offense. He's a smart guy with a great understanding of the playbook."

Wright attended Cardinal Newman High in Santa Rosa and was a regular at Cal's football camps, where Daft worked as a Bears assistant.

"Even back then, he had a great understanding of the X's and O's," Daft said. "He's come a long way. He's gotten bigger and stronger and more experienced."

Greg Denham was the Aggies' two-year incumbent entering the 2010 season. But Denham shocked his coaches and teammates by quitting to pursue a career in the ministry.

"That summer, (Denham) disappeared for two weeks, and no one knew where he was," Wright said. "Then the coaches called us in and said he wasn't coming back. We were just blown away."

That left Wright to battle sophomore Austin Heyworth for the starting job.

Wright knew his window of opportunity would be small.

He watched as his older brother Kyle sat on the bench as a backup quarterback at UTEP, never getting more than token playing time.

"I was nervous," Wright said. "I knew if I didn't get the starting spot, I'd probably have to sit behind Heyworth for three years. So I really got after it."

His starting debut was a 52-3 loss at Cal. The Aggies finished 6-5.

While playing in 33 consecutive games, Wright has helped lead the Aggies to a 5-1 record against rivals Cal Poly (2-1 in the Battle of the Golden Horseshoe) and Sacramento State (3-0 in the Causeway Classic). There also was a 14-13 upset of San Jose State in 2010.

But there have been too many bitter defeats, including last year's close Big Sky Conference losses to Montana State and Eastern Washington, which shared the title with Cal Poly.

Wright thinks the coaching change will help the Aggies get over the hump in those games and "make some noise" in conference.

"The new coaching staff has brought so much energy and so much confidence," Wright said. "In past years, we didn't know how to practice. That may sound weird. But now we've learned to practice hard, play at a higher tempo and mentally grind through it."

Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

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