UC Davis football coach Bob Biggs looks for players that fit a certain profile: They must be good students, but also good football prospects.
Biggs got what he wanted.
Last week, a highly-touted group of 18 players plus one mid-year transfer signed national letters of intent to play at UC Davis.
“So many of them are football savvy guys,” Biggs said. “That’s what impresses me about this group. Football is part of their culture and obviously they’re good students.”
What makes this class more extraordinary than in previous years, though, is it’s considered by Biggs to be the best UC Davis has ever put together.
“I think we answered a lot of questions, depth-wise, across the board at every position,” Biggs said. “The quality of the people we recruited is as strong as we’ve ever had.”
The path to amassing this group of quality recruits was a long process, one Biggs says began last spring when he and his staff evaluated hundreds of high school juniors across California.
“After spring evaluation,” Biggs said, “we sit around as a coaching staff every day and watch 10 to 15 players that we’ve identified as the top players at their position. We rate the players and put the ones with the highest ratings on our board – one, two, three, four.”
The staff then seeks to bring the top guys at each position to UC Davis.
“Most years, you don’t get the first or second guy,” Biggs said. “You end up settling on the third or fourth. This year, at just about every position, we got the top players we had rated. It was because of the work we did in the spring.”
Biggs and his staff started at the running back position.
“Running back was a critical area for us,” Biggs said. “We had not landed a top running back in the last couple of years.”
So UC Davis went out and signed three: Austin Edmonson (Moorpark), Jonathan Maricic (Elsinore) and Colton Silveria (Central Valley).
Tailback wasn’t the only focus. The staff also looked for a top-notch receiver to replace Chris Carter, the Great West Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year, and first-team all-conference selection Bakari Grant.
“We needed to pick up a home-run hitter much like Chris Carter was last year,” Biggs said. “We got that in Alex Cannon.”
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound wideout (Long Beach Poly) helped his team to a CIF-Southern Section Title as a junior.
Playmakers? Check. So who’s going to protect the quarterback so the ball can get to them?
Biggs had an answer for that.
“On the offensive line, we needed some tackles,” Biggs said. “We landed two great ones with size and athleticism.”
The offensive linemen they landed include Ian Joseph (El Dorado) and Jay Luchetti (Montgomery) along with Zach Perron (St. Joseph).
The staff also addressed the defense.
“We needed some linebackers,” Biggs said. “We hit a home run with [Ryan] Dimino, [Dominic] Greco and Steven Pitts. A quality corner in Jabari Howard – we got him. [Earnest] Sayles is a great safety along with [Charles] Boyett.”
Perhaps the biggest recruit UC Davis got was the one most under the radar.
As a senior at Kingsburg High School, London Lacy received all-league recognition at the quarterback position – as the backup.
“He didn’t start for his team because the starter ended up going to Tennessee,” Biggs said.
That didn’t stop the coaching staff from bringing Lacy in to take a look at him.
“We brought him into camp and he was head and shoulders above any other quarterback we saw,” Biggs said. “I think he’s a better player than the guy who started. Had he started, he probably would’ve had all kinds of big-time offers. Sometimes you have to look beyond what you see on the surface.”
With this class, UC Davis brings in 19 players – 10 on offense and nine on defense – all of whom will likely use their redshirt year next season. At least that’s what Biggs hopes.
“[I] hope not,” Biggs said when asked if his recruits will play next year. “I think some of them are physically gifted enough. It’s usually the mental side of it. They aren’t here for spring ball, so the first time they are exposed is fall camp. There’s just not enough time to get them ready.”
MAX ROSENBLUM is excited about the caliber of recruits the football program brought in. He’s disappointed that as a student, he will likely not see them play. He can be contacted at email@example.com.