Sacramento State coach Jody Sears mined some of Southern California’s top high school football programs and most of UC Davis’ star-studded recruits stayed the course with beleaguered coach Ron Gould on Wednesday’s national signing day.
Both programs seek to rebound from disappointing 2-9 2015 seasons and looked south for help. Twenty-one of the 37 players Gould and Sears recruited are from Southern California.
“Southern California is so talent-ladened,” Gould said. “But all of California is fruitful. We’re fortunate to be here because California is the mecca for recruiting. There are a lot of quality student athletes here.”
The Hornets signed offensive lineman Paula Hafoka and long snapper Ian Lauvai from two-time CIF State Bowl Open Division runners-up and USA Today national No. 7 Centennial of Corona. Sears had good fortune last season with former Centennial quarterback Nate Ketteringham.
The freshman came on and played solidly for the Hornets after junior Daniel Kniffin and sophomores Kolney Cassel and Nolan Merker were lost for the season to injuries.
The Hornets added depth and talent at quarterback with the addition of Roman Ale from Narbonne High School in Harbor City, a player Sears calls “a bit of a late bloomer.” The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Ale threw for 3,558 yards and 45 touchdowns last season for a team that finished 14-2 and beat Clayton Valley Charter of Concord for the D-IA State Bowl title at Sac State in December.
The Hornets signed Scout.com three-star 6-3, 225-pound defensive lineman Tyler Hawkins from Palm Springs and 6-2, 205-pound two-star defensive back Isaia Paopao from perennial San Diego section power Oceanside. Sears also landed Cal-Hi All-State small schools linebacker Josiah Erickson from San Dimas. The 6-3, 225-pound Erickson, who had 158 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior, also received an offer from Montana State.
Also joining the Hornets will be 5-11, 210-pound running back Quincy Jountti of Liberty High School in Bakersfield. He rushed for 1,647 yards and 21 touchdowns and also had four receiving touchdowns. His older brother, Corbin, is a running back at Northern Arizona.
Offensive lineman Nick Brand of Del Campo, a Bee All-Metro second-team selection, was the lone area player signed, ending a recent trend of local recruiting by the Hornets. Sears made scholarship offers to several area players, but they opted for higher-profile Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
In all, Sac State signed 21 players – 12 on offense, seven on defense and two specialists. Eleven are linemen.
“We know that to be a championship-caliber football team you have to be strong up front,” Sears said.
Gould had to weather an erroneous report by a Sports Illustrated reporter last November that he had been fired. SI ran a retraction of the post that Gould said was planted to hurt the Aggies’ recruiting efforts.
Among those signing with the Aggies were three-star defensive end Brandon Jamison and two-star tight end Christian Skeptaris, both from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. The 6-3, 235-pound Jamison had 32 sacks in three seasons and ranked as the No. 9 player in the Arizona Class of 2015 by AZcentralsports.com. He had offers from Arizona State, Northern Arizona, South Dakota State, Cornell and Air Force. Skeptaris also had a half-dozen offers.
The Aggies also signed three-star wide receiver Khris Vaughn of Redlands East Valley High School and highly touted kicker Matt Blair from Campolindo in Moraga. Vaughn had offers from Washington, Washington State and Boise State, plus Big Sky rivals Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona. Blair had offers from Army, San Jose State, Cornell and UNLV.
The Aggies inked two area players in 6-2 safety Khanii Lesane of Antelope and 6-5, 226-pound tight end Wesley Preece of Rocklin. Preece was Bee All-Metro first team; Lesane was an honorable-mention selection.
However, the Aggies did lose three-star quarterback Kevin Davidson from San Ramon Valley in Danville. The 6-4 Davidson, who verbally committed to UCD in July, announced late Wednesday afternoon he was decommitting from UCD and will play for Princeton.
“That came as a complete surprise to us,” said Gould, sounding disappointed. “But instead of focusing on someone we didn’t get, we should focus on all those we got. I’m just proud of my staff, my team, for all their work in putting together a quality recruiting class. We’ve got some talented players who have bought into our vision. More importantly, we’ve got some quality kids who value education.”
In all, UCD announced the addition of 16 players, including a community college transfer already on campus. Ten are defenders, five offensive players and one a specialist.
Gould said he still has a couple of scholarships o give. “Obviously one is for a quarterback,” he said.
Local college signings
Players who signed with Sac State on Wednesday:
Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park
Del Campo-Fair Oaks
High school players who signed with UC Davis on Wednesday:
St. John Bosco-Ladera Heights
Redlands East Valley