In his 20 seasons as head football coach and nearly 15 years on the staff before that, Bob Biggs has shepherded countless players through the fields and classrooms of UC Davis.
Now in the run-up to his final season, Biggs has welcomed 13 new players to his Aggie squad that finished 4-7 last season.
Last Wednesday on National Signing Day, UC Davis coaches, staff, alumni and supporters gathered at the Bruce Edwards Club Room in Aggie Stadium to celebrate Biggs’ newest class of players.
In opening the event, Biggs shared with attendees the biggest difference between recruiting now and when he first started back in the 80s.
“We didn’t have GPS back then,” the coach said to laughter; recounting a time when as recruiting coordinator for the Los Angeles area he would often find himself lost on the way to a player’s home, hopelessly searching through his collection of road maps for the right one.
Despite the marvels of modern technology, recruiting still has its difficulties.
This year the UC Davis staff had to address the uncertainty of the future with potential signees, as nobody knows who will coach the Aggies after the 2012 season. Throughout the recruiting process though, Biggs did not see the issue as a major hindrance to signing key players.
“Yeah some schools used it against us,” Biggs said. “[But] I think people understand that you’re going to a school because of the program and the education. The track record has been that the coach is going to stay here and do it with great integrity and the new coach will follow that example.”
One thing that Biggs could promise potential players was a highly competitive schedule in every upcoming season. The Aggies are set to play their inaugural season in the Big Sky Conference in 2012, and the conference is widely considered one of the best in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Biggs couldn’t make the promise to too many players, though, as he had a limited number of scholarships to work with due to the small number of graduating seniors.
One area that the coaches targeted for depth improvement was the wide receiving core, which last season lacked a receiver with game changing speed or athleticism.
“We really hit a home run with some real playmakers in Devin Alexander and Ramon Vargas,” Biggs said. “Luke Williams is also a great combination receiver.
“Those were our top three choices and we were fortunate to be able to sign all of them.”
Biggs also brought in quarterback Ben Scott, who won’t see the field next season but will compete for the starting spot going forward.
Headed into next season, incumbent starter Randy Wright and backup London Lacy will compete for starting quarterback role.
There are no running backs in this season’s class of recruits, as the Aggies already have seven on their roster.
Biggs expects to redshirt all of this season’s recruits, meaning that they will have four years of eligibility remaining after the 2012 season.
The only exception is kicker Marcus White, who led the state of California in touchbacks last season in high school and averaged 41.7 yards per punt throughout his career. He will take over the kickoff duties for the Aggies and compete for field goal and punting duty.
Defensively, Biggs strengthened the Aggies core of linebackers with two additions, while also adding two cornerbacks and one safety.
There are three linemen in this year’s class, two offensive and one defensive tackle. The largest of the trio is 6-5, 300 pound offensive lineman Armando Ceja-Lua, who dominated opponents in his highlight real.
Overall, Biggs was extremely pleased with the players coming into the program and ready to see them succeed under the guidance of the still to be determined future head coach of UC Davis.
“I thought we did a great job with the 13 spots we had,” Biggs said. “I think it bodes extremely well for the future and I want to do everything I can so that when we transition to a new head coach; it’s very seamless.
“It’s important that we continue to recruit a good combination of athleticism and size. Our physical play needs to continue to complement our skill [and] we were able to add those qualities with this year’s class.”
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