Joe Davidson

From NFL talents to history makers, these 47 college starters represent Sacramento area

Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams (73) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in College Station, Texas.
Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams (73) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in College Station, Texas. AP

The college football season starts this week, and local products dot programs across the country.

None is as experienced as quarterback Jake Browning and linebacker Cameron Smith, four-year starters within the Pacific-12 Conference, and none as ferocious and accomplished as Jonah Williams of Alabama. The left tackle seeks another national championship and will likely be a top-10 draft selection next spring.

Browning and Williams were teammates at Folsom High School while Smith was a standout at Granite Bay.

“It’s just awesome what so many of us have been able to do in college, and it’s great for the Sacramento area,” Smith said.

Here’s a peek at area products who are listed as starters at Football Championship Subdivision and Football Bowl Subdivision programs:

Montel Aaron, QB, San Jose State (Antelope) — Had an up-and-down season in 2017, as did the Spartans, who open against UC Davis.

Jake Browning, QB, Washington (Folsom) — A career record holder in most every passing category, he aims to lead the Huskies to another College Football Playoff.

Tyler Vander Waal, QB, Wyoming (Christian Brothers) — Earned the job in spring and summer with cannon arm and leadership.

Elijah Dotson, RB, Sacramento State (Antelope) — Had a team-high 1,107 all-purpose yards in 2017 for Big Sky’s most prolific outfit.

Isaiah Bailey, WR, Alabama A&M (Jesuit) — Made highlight grabs in scrimmages that made ESPN Top 10; a playmaker since forever.

Dylan Collie, WR, BYU (Oak Ridge) — It’s been a Collie family of football fun here with Scott, Zac, Austin and now Dylan.

Tony Ellison, WR, Arizona (Granite Bay) — Led the Wildcats with 598 receiving yards last season and is one of the fastest guys on the roster.

Justin Holmes, WR, San Jose State (Oakmont) — Has played in 36 games with 18 starts and is team’s top wide out.

Justice Shelton-Mosley, WR, Harvard (Capital Christian) — An FCS All-American and an academic All-Ivy League pick, he averaged 110.7 all-purpose yards.

Josiah Deguara, TE, Cincinnati (Folsom) — Settling in as a starter, JD can block and catch and knows how to win.

Wesley Preece, TE, UC Davis (Rocklin) — Can run for his size and can catch touchdowns for reborn Aggies.

Josh Falo, H-Back, USC (Inderkum) - Too good to not get on the field, Falo can catch, block and inspire.

Roman Andrus, OL, Utah State (Oak Ridge) - Made starts last season at left tackle and is now the left guard, so versatility counts.

Jacob Capra, OL, Oregon (Placer) — Comes from a family of linemen, including brother Johnny, on the O-line at Utah.

Cody Creason, OL, Arizona (Folsom) Started occasionally in 2017 when Wildcats set school record by averaging 309 rushing yards.

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Colton Lamson, OL, UC Davis (Union Mine/Sac City) - Small-school product excelled at JC and keeps improving.

Darrin Paulo, OL, Utah (Grant) — An earth and body mover at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds for offensive coordinator Troy Taylor of regional roots.

Dru Samia, OL, Oklahoma (River City) - Quietly has had a great career as a four-year starter with NFL future.

Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama (Folsom) — A starter since his first game as a true freshman three years ago, Williams is a mauler with technique at tackle.

Kooper Richardson, OL, UC Davis (Folsom) — Classic late bloomer has arrived and gets first start against San Jose State.

Carl Granderson, DL, Wyoming (Grant) — A run-stuffing, quarterback-chasing stopper, Granderson had 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in 2017.

Chase Hatada, DL, Boise State (Rocklin) — Think this guy can move and make plays? Dad Ian was a 110-meter hurdles champion for BSU back in the day.

P.J. Johnson, DL, Arizona (Burbank) — A run stopper who can run, Johnson is a first-year starter.

Anthony Luke, DL, San Diego State (Woodcreek) A baller and a scholar, earning Mountain West Fall All-Academic honors in 2017.

Kaleb Meder, DL, Nevada (Wheatland) — American River College transfer impressed in summer drills to earn this job.

Chigozie Nnoruka, DL, UCLA (Kennedy) — Career goal is to become a pharmacist, but wants to make plays for Bruins after making 8.5 tackles for loss in 2017.

Caleb Tremblay, DL, USC (Vintage) — ARC transfer was a national recruit who picked the Trojans.

Immanuel Anderson, LB, Sac State (Elk Grove) — Already 10th in school history with 238 tackles, a needed skill in prolific Big Sky.

Anthony Baumgart, LB, UC Davis (Antelope) - Eager to make stops in a Big Sky Conference big on touchdowns.

Bailey Laolagi, LB, UNLV (Folsom) — No one outworks this guy in the weight room or on the field in terms of drills, pulling tires or unleashing on a blocking sled.

Jordan Kunasyzk, LB, Cal (Roseville) — Proof that the JC system works as he excelled at ARC and at Cal last season and is now a captain.

Cameron Smith, LB, USC (Granite Bay) — A tackling machine and team captain, Smith returned for his senior season to soak in more of the fun.

Malcolm Thomas, LB, Sac State (Woodcreek) — Emerged as a playmaker last season for a defense that got better as the season wore on.

Patrick Walker, LB, Cal Poly (Franklin) — A rush specialist, Walker and friends aim to improve on Cal Poly’s 1-win train wreck of 2017.

Joey Banks, DB, Buffalo (Franklin) - A tackling terror in HS and at Sac State, Banks has a home in Buffalo.

Caelan Barnes, DB, Sac State (Antelope) — Made 28 tackles last season and debates with fellow Antelope grads as to who the best Titan is.

Mister Harriel, DB, Sac State (Antelope) Preseason All-American led the Hornets with 87 tackles and also impresses with bowling skills.

Jamarri Jackson, Northern Arizona (Christian Brothers) - A JC All-American at San Mateo a year ago, JJ keeps upping his game.

Lamar Jackson, DB, Nebraska (Franklin) The only Husker to start all 12 games in in the secondary in 2017 is the focal point in a new defensive scheme for storied program.

Garrett Kauppila, DB, Air Force (Rocklin) — Started the first three games last season before a season-ending injury; had eight stops against Michigan.

Lenny Nelson, DB, North Dakota (Woodcreek) — Brought aboard out of ARC to help bolster a defense that gave up a ton in the Big Sky in 2017.

Elijah Orr, DB, Northern Arizona (Grant) - The next in a long list of great athletes from his family, Orr has similar leadership skills.

Dre Terrell, DB, Sac State (Pleasant Grove) The most experienced corner on the team, Terrell led the Hornets with five interceptions in 2017.

Cole Thompson, DB, Harvard (Folsom) — Set Folsom touchdown reception records for a single season and now plays defense while studying Economics.

Trey Udoffia, DB, Colorado (Del Oro) — Speedy cover man had 33 tackles last season and impressed in spring and summer with pass breakups.

Max O’Rourke, K, UC Davis (Rocklin) — Could play quarterback or receiver in an emergency pinch but this is one of the best kickers in the Big Sky Conference.

Miss anyone? Email us starters in the FBS or FCS level to

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