Paul Kitagaki Jr. /

Tyler Meteer of Del Oro, The Bee’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, is among six Sacramento-area players to sign with Sac State.

UC Davis, Sac State football coaches pleased with recruiting classes

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 - 9:43 pm

UC Davis boosted an inexperienced group at quarterback during Wednesday’s national signing day, while Sacramento State looked to bolster a defense that struggled last season in announcing their 2014 recruiting classes.

“I’m thrilled to death with the class,” said UCD coach Ron Gould, who signed 13 high school players and two community college transfers. “We’re very pleased how hard our staff grinded through the recruiting process.”

Gould added quarterbacks Turner Baty, an incoming junior from City College of San Francisco, and C.J. Spencer, an incoming freshman out of Inderkum High School, to fill the void by the departures of four-year starter Randy Wright and backup Jimmy Laughrea, a sophomore transfer from Boise State who has left the team but is still enrolled at the school.

Gould hopes Baty will provide experience for the returning quarterbacks who have little playing experience on the collegiate level. Junior London Lacy, the most experienced of four returning quarterbacks, has thrown 21 passes in three seasons.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Baty led CCSF to the California community college championship in 2011 and transferred to Kansas. But after spending a season on the bench in Lawrence, Kan., he returned to the Rams for the 2013 season. He threw for 5,630 yards and 53 touchdowns in his two seasons at CCSF.

“When Jimmy Laughrea decided to step down for personal reasons, we tried to find the best quarterback we could,” Gould said. “He’s a veteran guy who has been in the war room. But like every player in the 2014 class, they know there are no guarantees. The best guy in practice is going to earn the starting position.”

Gould, whose Aggies went 5-7 in his first season in Davis last year, has had good fortune with a CCSF player. Last fall, running back Gabe Manzanares walked on and became one of the Aggies’ most electrifying players.

Gould also believes the Aggies have added some pop and playmaking ability on defense with the addition of 6-3, 240-pound linebacker Travon Brooks from Contra Costa College, and 6-0, 225-pound linebacker Amonai Itaaehau from Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, Ariz.

“Amonai has a motor that won’t quit,” Gould said. “Travon is very versatile. He can play all the linebacking positions. He’s a huge asset.”

Sac State is bringing in 23 players, including eight midyear transfers that coach Marshall Sperbeck thinks can help a Hornets program that finished last season 5-7. The most notable player is 6-1, 302-pound defensive lineman Brandon Tuliaupupu, a UCLA transfer.

Highlighting the freshman class are area players Tyler Meteer of Del Oro, Joey Banks of Franklin and Printess Johnson and Ernest Jenkins of Burbank. All are expected to play defense.

“I really think we did a good job,” Sperbeck said. “We got a lot of players, including six Sacramento-area guys, who can push us forward next season.”

Banks, an All-Metro first-team linebacker for Franklin, initially committed to Big Sky Conference rival Northern Arizona, which made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs last season but changed his mind and decided to remain close to home.

“I was set with NAU, but there's something about Sac State that started to grow on me,” said Banks, likely to move to safety with the Hornets. “I really like what Sac State is doing, the plan. I keep telling people that things are going to really happen at Sac State. We're going to surprise people, and I'm excited.”

Meteer was The Bee’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year in leading Del Oro to a CIF State Bowl last fall. He will join former Golden Eagles star Russell Smith among the Hornets linebackers. Smith was Sac State’s second-leading tackler as a redshirt freshman last season.

“Tyler’s a special kid, a great student (4.3 grade-point average) and a fine football player,” Sperbeck said. “We’re really excited he’s coming here.”

The 6-4, 265-pound Johnson and 6-1, 195-pound Jenkins are the first Burbank players Sperbeck has recruited since he took the Hornets job eight years ago.

“Ernest played quarterback at Burbank, but he’ll play safety, corner or even wide receiver for us,” Sperbeck said. “Printess is a big kid who is still growing. He has a huge upside.”

Sac State added speed at wide receiver with the addition of St. Mary of Stockton’s Jaelin Ratliff, San Marcos of San Diego’s 5-7, 150-pound Isiah Hennie, also a return specialist, and 6-3 Jabarri Johnson of Franklin, who only started playing football his senior year of high school. But Sperbeck said he has big potential.

The Hornets, who struggled with numerous injuries at running back last season, signed only one running back – Jeremiah Reddick of Bakersfield High.

Sperbeck said he expects to sign another at some point.

“We always save a couple of spots,” Sperbeck said. “There are still guys who may transfer and other high school players looking for an opportunity.”

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

Read more articles by Bill Paterson

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