New UC Davis football coach Dan Hawkins and his staff hit the ground running this recruiting season.
Running, driving and flying, actually, as the staff scoured the West Coast for prospects to infuse fresh talent with the aim of turning things around quickly. UCD went 3-8 in 2016.
Hawkins said Wednesday the Aggies went with “a lot of planes, trains, automobiles and hotels” in their quest, deeming their first recruiting class as “tremendous.”
It certainly was in sheer numbers. On Wednesday, UCD received 30 letter-of-intent signatures – 27 from athletes in California – joining two midyear transfers from December to make the 32-member class the largest in program history. The previous high was 18 in 2010.
I think, to date, because of the guys we were able to sign on defense, this might be the best class we’ve had since I’ve been here.
Jody Sears, Sac State football coach
“It’s been a big day on campus,” Hawkins said. “Thirty-two guys is a monumental class. We’re really excited.”
Local prospects included Davis High School offensive lineman Nick Amoah, an engineering major whom Hawkins joked is so bright that “I’m applying for a job with him someday.”
Defensive back Truman Andrus of Oak Ridge, linebacker Logan Hungrige of Sutter and kicker Max O’Rourke of American River College via Rocklin High were the local signees.
Hawkins praised former coach Ron Gould for his recruiting efforts that paved the way for some of the prospects, adding, “Overall, we’re really, really pleased. We’re ready to get to work.”
Sacramento State signings – Across the causeway, Sacramento State, coming off a 2-9 season, landed 29 players, including five midyear additions.
Coach Jody Sears said he was pleased to add depth on defense and talent at running back, including Sacramento Bee All-Metro pick Elijah Dotson of Antelope, a 2,000-yard rusher, and equally touted Montaz Thompson of Pittsburg. The Hornets also announced that Joseph Ajeigbe, a three-year running back at Duke, will finish his career as a Hornet.
Defensive additions included lineman Elijah Chambers from San Jacinto and defensive back DaRon Bland from Central Catholic in Modesto whose cousin Montell, a Central Catholic linebacker, signed with UCD. Linebacker Miguel Garcia of Sanger was The Fresno Bee’s Defensive Player of the Year, deemed by that paper as the “most accomplished defender in Sanger’s 117-year history.” He made 130 tackles for a 13-1 team.
It’s been a big day on campus. Thirty-two guys is a monumental class. We’re really excited.
Dan Hawkins, UC Davis football coach
“I think, to date, because of the guys we were able to sign on defense, this might be the best class we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Sears, the Hornets’ coach since 2014.
Dotson was Sac State’s lone local recruit, a player whom Sears described as “explosive.” Sears said he has lost out on local prospects to Football Bowl Subdivision or other Football Championship Subdivision programs. But he credited his recruiting staff’s ability to replace them with athletes of similar ability from other parts of the state.
“You’ve got to drive maybe five or six hours further, and you get the same (type of) guy,” Sears said.