Joe Davidson

Hometown Report: Ex-UCD star Daniel Fells fights to keep foot, NFL career

Former UC Davis player Daniel Fells catches a pass during during a New York Giants training camp practice session on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. Fells is fighting a powerful staph-infection bacteria resistant to penicillin-type treatments.
Former UC Davis player Daniel Fells catches a pass during during a New York Giants training camp practice session on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. Fells is fighting a powerful staph-infection bacteria resistant to penicillin-type treatments. The Associated Press

Daniel Fells missed his share of football games during his five years at UC Davis – from 2001 to 2005 – for an assortment of ligament strains and broken bones.

Ankles, legs, back, shoulders. They all ached.

Fells once told me: “I hurt all over, but nothing hurts more than watching your teammates play.”

Fells is watching his teammates again, this time from a hospital bed, fighting to save his foot, if not his life. The New York Giants tight end is out for the 2015 season, placed on injured reserve Oct. 5 after being diagnosed with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in his ankle, a powerful staph-infection bacteria resistant to penicillin-type treatments.

The 32-year-old Fells has undergone five surgeries with the underlining fear of amputation if the infection reaches his bones or travel into the blood stream. He developed MRSA after receiving a cortisone shot to his ankle, according to multiple reports.

Fells tweeted teammates before Sunday night’s game at the Meadowlands against the 49ers: “My heart is with my brothers tonight. Get that W, G-men. I love every one of you.”

The feelings are mutual.

Eli Manning hit Larry Donnell with the winning touchdown in the closing seconds, and that ball immediately was stashed away for Fells. Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters afterward, “Thank God we were able to get him the game ball.”

The coach added: “(Fells) has had two very good days in a row. His MRIs have come back without any issues the last couple of days, thank God. Hopefully, he’ll just continue in that direction and have this cleared up so he can go home and see his kids.”

On Monday afternoon, Giants players Skyped with Fells from a team meeting room, showcasing his game ball.

Rampaging UteDevontae Booker’s 267 yards from scrimmage Saturday against Cal were the most against a ranked opponent this season.

Booker, a former Grant High School and American River College standout, delivered his best collegiate effort to date in powering Utah to a 30-24 victory in a battle of Pacific-12 Conference unbeatens.

Booker showcased speed and power, lowering his shoulder on one play to blast a Cal defensive back. The senior carried a season-best 34 times for a Utah personal-best 222 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught four passes for 45 yards. Booker has rushed for 100 or more yards 10 times in two Utes seasons, including three this fall.

The 22-year-old Booker was a Grant senior in the fall of 2009, rushing for 2,884 yards and 45 touchdowns, before taking a long, circuitous path to reach Salt Lake City.

“Booker’s a really good running back, and he’s really hard to tackle,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said in the postgame news conference. “He’s a big, strong runner.”

A darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate entering the season after bypassing the NFL draft, Booker suddenly has re-emerged as a real possibility to contend for college football’s highest honor. Especially if the Utes keep rolling. Voters prefer winners.

Now ranked No. 4, Utah is no one’s darkhorse. It received 16 first-place votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

What Booker isn’t fond of, however, is the pregame hype of showdowns. It happened for the season opener against visiting Michigan in Jim Harbaugh’s debut as Wolverines coach, a 24-17 Utah victory.

And it was even more frenzied on Saturday with ESPN’s “College Game Day” crew on hand in Salt Lake City.

“I got tired of it, really,” Booker said. “It seemed like we were playing Michigan again. I really don’t like to talk about how big a game is. I just go out there and play.”

Utah also beat Oregon 62-20, derailing the Ducks’ domination of the Pacific-12 Conference, as Booker ran for 104 yards. The Utes play Arizona State, USC and Oregon State to close out this month.

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