“Trust the process.”
It’s UC Davis football coach Ron Gould’s mantra.
However, after an 0-4 start in 2013, Aggie Nation was beginning to wonder.
But first-year coach Gould had a plan: Pay attention to the little things; consider each play important; work hard; trust your teammates; and don’t make mistakes (if you do, immediately forget them and play on).
Remember, this was former Cal assistant Gould’s first season ever as a head coach. The pressure of following Aggie Hall of Famer Bob Biggs was great. And when you consider that the last time UCD went off campus to hire a head football coach was, ah, never …
Clearly there’s a lot at stake as the program has gone all-in nearing the end of its first decade in Division I sports.
Athletic Director Terry Tumey knew he had the right guy. He just needed earplugs through those first four games.
Once Big Sky Conference play began, the Aggies started turning things around — and when the smoke cleared (after a 34-7 season-finale drubbing of cross-river rival Sacramento State), UCD had won five of its last eight, finishing 5-7 and in a fourth-place tie at 5-3 in the rugged 13-team Big Sky Conference.
Now, Gould has a year under his belt and has his first class of recruits coming to town while returning a raft load of outstanding veterans.
Gould and Aggie Nation get to see what’s what this week as the monthlong spring football practices begin Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Aggie Stadium.
Back is centerpiece running back and 1,200-yard rusher Gabe Manzanares, plus an outstanding linebacking corps and offensive line.
Of intrigue — and in camp this week — are junior college transfers quarterback Turner Baty and linebacker Travon Brooks.
Three new assistants — O-line coach Dan Finn, tight end coach Paul Creighton and offensive quality control aide Anthony Soto (a former Aggie receiver) — also will be on hand for spring ball.
But gone are longtime standouts like defensive end Nick King and QB Randy Wright.
The Gould Era is ensconced.
Baty, like Manzanares, is a City College of San Francisco product. He is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound passer who led CCSF to a 12-0 record and a state junior college championship in 2011. That year, he threw for 25 touchdowns and scored 17 more while getting 3,100 yards through the air.
After a redshirt year at Kansas, Baty returned to CCSF and passed for 3,120 yards and 30 TDs last season.
UCD carried six QBs in 2013, but Boise State transfer Jimmy Laughrea did not return, leaving to-be senior London Lacy and future sophomores Garrett Bogart, Ben Scott and Mitchell Sheppard in the fold. Inderkum High quarterback C.J. Spencer will be an incoming freshman this summer.
Brooks (6-3, 140) is a Contra Costa College product. The Ray Lewis look-alike is a former Washington redshirt who was All-Bay Valley Conference after posting 55 tackles (46 solo) at CCC in 2013.
He’s a dean’s list member.
Gould thinks the commitments from Baty, Brooks and the other 13 new recruits will pay big dividends down the road.
“We brought in a very athletic group of young men at all positions,” Gould says. “That was a need we had to address … we wanted to become more athletic overall.”
Gould continued: “There are certain characteristics that we look for in our student-athletes. No. 1 is character, No. 2 is great students and No. 3 are guys who have some athletic ability because, if they have that, it makes (coaches’) jobs much easier.
“The fourth thing is we want young men that aspire to be great in all facets of their lives.”
Practices run Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the end of April, culminating in an open-to-the-public Blue-and-Gold scrimmage on April 26. Weekday practices, according to school officials, go from 8 to 10:30 a.m. with Saturday workouts normally from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Gould told The Enterprise that most practices are closed to the public, but said he expects to open some sessions to Aggie fans. An announcement as to those dates is upcoming.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.