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Friday, April 12, 2024

Inside the Game: Jake Maier, Keelan Doss


The California Aggie sat down with UC Davis football’s dynamic duo

Junior wide receiver Keelan Doss and sophomore quarterback Jake Maier were this season’s UC Davis football stars. Both players were placed on the Walter Payton Awards list, and Doss was just named a finalist for the Walter Payton award.

Doss is the new all-time single season record holder for the most receptions in a year and has been leading the nation in receiving yards, receiving yards per game and receptions per game. Doss is the eighth Aggie in history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

Maier, a new addition to the team this season, became the first quarterback in UC Davis football’s Big Sky era to record 3,000 or more yards in a single season.

The Aggies just finished their season with a disappointing 52-47 loss to Sacramento State in the 64th annual Causeway Classic. UC Davis football ended its season with a record of 5-6 regular season and 3-5 Big Sky. The Aggies’ five overall wins are the most the team has won in a single season during its time in the Big Sky Conference.

The Aggie sat down with Doss and Maier to talk about their season, their personal futures and the future of the team.


You both have had fantastic seasons so far — breaking records, leading the nation in statistics.


Maier: For me, this is such a team game that it’s hard to focus on that kind of stuff because all of our — me and Keelan’s — success that we’ve had so far has a lot to do with the guys around us, our teammates, our coaches, our game plan. You know, all that stuff is far more important and means so much more to us than any individual number. We’re proud of what we’ve done, but this is such a team effort. Keelan can’t do what he does without the protection upfront. I’m not able to do what I do without coaches calling the right plays. This is such a team game that the individual accolades are not the end all be all for us.


You two have great chemistry. You’ve said that you just clicked. How?


Doss: It’s hard to explain because that’s really rare, in my opinion, when you get a quarterback and a receiver on the same page from the very start. I don’t know man, it was just during the summer, I remember we would come out here, work out a couple of times, and there was just a bond there. We felt connected as soon as we got together and started throwing and everything. We just built on that connection into season. We just play football. We don’t think about it too much and that just allows us to go out there and play free and confidently. It allows us to make plays at a more efficient level.


Maier: And to add to that too, a lot of it has to do with the off the field stuff as well. I mean, the film room and understanding what the opponent is doing to us. Me and Keelan spent a lot of time in that area, really game planning on our own time. What Keelan does is great. He gets open, he catches everything, we all know that. But what people don’t know is that when he comes to me in the middle of the game, he’s telling me what the defense is doing, what coverages they’re in, and he’s pretty much 100 percent right. He’s got the opponent figured out.


Jake, you recently joined Keelan on the Walter Payton Awards list. How do you feel about that?


Maier: That’s a huge honor. That’s something I never thought would ever happen. I always thought that I was going to work extremely hard and try to get to that point and be included in such a prestigious list. To see it actually happening now is just very humbling, you know, just to be on the same list [as] all those talented players. It makes my family proud, it makes me extremely proud. It wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for the team and the teammates that we have, our offensive line, and our running backs. There are a lot of unnoticed things that happen for [Keelan and I] to get to that point. We’re just extremely grateful and proud to represent that school.


Doss: That’s awesome, man. You know, the only reason I’m there is, well a big reason for why I’m there is because of [Jake]. He just puts the ball out there in perfect spots every time and I just catch it. […] it’s awesome. It’s an honor. I know it’s awesome for both of us.


What’s it like being part of the new Dan Hawkins era? How is this season different than your past seasons?


Doss: As of right now, feel like every time a coaching shift happens, there’s a new energy that’s brought with it. You know, I wasn’t here when [former head coach Ron Gould] first got here, but I was for his second year here and there was a lot of excitement around that, as well. And Coach G and the staff were awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better staff to have brought me in here. Coach Hawkins and the new staff, I love them just as much and they’re awesome. I feel like the energy right now is where it needs to be. […] Winning brings a whole amount of energy that is pretty awesome towards the program. It’s been fun. Coach Hawkins is great, Couch Plough is great, Coach Tolr is great. It’s just been a fun time so far and I hope to keep going.


What is the ultimate goal for you to achieve athletically at UC Davis during your next couple years?


Maier: We want to win a championship here. Truthfully, that’s really all I want. Obviously there’s other things that come with it, you know, spending time with your boys, bonding, experiencing UC Davis college life, that’s obviously something you’ll never forget and always carry with you. In regards to football and what we do on the field, we want to win a championship. We’ll give all of our efforts and we’ll sacrifice anything to get to that point.


Doss: There’s nothing better than winning a championship, from a Big Sky championship to a National championship. One of my goals, for myself, has been to be legendary. And with that, it’s just in every aspect, just drive for your hardest, to accomplish the impossible. And there’s no reason why you can’t go out there as a team and compete for a national championship or a Big Sky championship. I feel like you all have that mind set and if you do, we’ll achieve that.


What are your plans after UC Davis?


Maier: I’ve always had aspirations to be a coach one day. I think I’d really want to get into that as soon as I can. My family is just a houseful of coaches, I’ve just been around it my whole life. My dad’s a coach and I really look up to him and he inspires me to do that. God willing, if the good Lord says ‘Jake, you’re going to keep playing after college,’ then that’d be one heck of a blessing. I think it’s every kid’s dream, since they’re 10 years old or so, to be on that stage and inspire others to try to strive to do what you do. I have really really big dreams, whether it’s being a coach or continue playing, that’s really what I want to do when I’m done here.


Doss: I want to play in the NFL. That’s been a goal of mine since I was little boy when I first started [playing football]. Hopefully, I’m capable [of doing] that. I feel like I’d play in the NFL at a high level as well so it’d be fun. It’d be interesting.


Written by: Liz Jacobson — sports@theaggie.org


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