College Sports

Sac State, UC Davis football coaches find recruiting a grind, signing day rewarding

Sacramento State’s Jody Sears and UC Davis’ Ron Gould are used to the ups and downs of recruiting.

Sears is entering his fourth year as a head coach, the second with the Hornets. Gould is entering his third season with the Aggies.

But both were longtime college assistants, so they understand that months of watching prospects on film, visiting schools, talking to high school coaches and meeting with families don’t guarantee anything until a high school prospect’s signature is on the dotted line.

“You just have to have a good plan in place just in case,” Sears said Wednesday. “We lost a kid this morning. At first you are upset because you spend so much darn time with these kids and then he turns on a dime. But then you go through your (player) pool, check the film again, look at their grades and find out about their character. We still feel like we came out smelling like a rose with the young man we wound up signing.”

Although Sears lost several area high-profile verbal commits to higher-profile Football Bowl Subdivision schools, he was plenty pleased with the 32 players the Hornets signed.

Sears landed an intriguing quarterback prospect in three-star recruit Nate Ketteringham, who helped lead Southern California power Centennial of Corona to the CIF State Open Division championship game last season.

Ketteringham joins midyear enrollees Kolney Cassel from SMU and Alexis Robinson from Baylor and returning backup Daniel Kniffin of Rocklin in what could be a highly charged battle to replace record-setting quarterback Garrett Safron.

The 6-foot-4 Ketteringham rotated at quarterback with junior Anthony Catalano at Centennial, yet threw for 1,890 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“You watch the last five games he played in high school – the throws he was making and his standing with his teammates – and there was a lot of Garrett Safron in him,” Sears said. “He brings some intangibles to the table.”

Sears, also the defensive coordinator, was pleased to bring in 18 new defensive players, including nine on the line.

“You look at championship-winning programs like North Dakota State, Eastern Washington and Montana, and they are very good on both sides of the line year in, year out,” Sears said.

The Hornets, who finished 7-5 last season, also continued their recent trend of staying local. They signed 10 area players and seven others within a three-hour drive of the campus.

Gould was happy that the Aggies landed most of the players they had targeted among the 15 players they signed, even after the Aggies’ 2-9 season.

“FBS schools came after four of our guys, and they stayed committed to us,” Gould said. “That speaks to their character that they honored their verbal commitment to us and about where they see this program going.”

UCD signed eight highly decorated players, including Arizona all-state safety Ryan Parenteau, to try to shore up a struggling defense that graduated key starters Charles Boyett, Ryan Dimino, Steven Pitts and Marques Barron.

Also joining the Aggies are James Logan of Union City quarterback Christian Leota, a 6-2, 225-pound dual threat, and 5-11, 192-pound running back Joshua Kelley from Eastside of Lancaster.

“In addition to having a tremendous amount of speed, Joshua is big and durable,” Gould said. “Christian is a fierce competitor, smart and can throw it and run it. He shows a tremendous amount of leadership.”

Tight end Dan Plum from Cathedral Catholic in San Diego hails from a family of athletes, including his mother and sister who played volleyball at UCD. His father played football and baseball at San Diego State, and two other sisters played volleyball at Oregon and basketball at Washington.

The only area player joining the Aggies is midyear signee and former Sheldon High School and American River College defensive lineman Antonio Perez.

“We love his speed and athleticism off the edge,” Gould said of the 6-2, 250-pound junior who also attended Idaho. “He’s exciting to watch.”

Though Gould relishes the grind and competition of recruiting, the final days were particularly challenging. His father, Garnie, 76, died last month, and his memorial service was Monday.

“It’s been a tough time, but I’m a pretty resilient guy,” Gould said. “I’m just fortunate to have a great staff to help pick up the load.”

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