PARK CITY, Utah — With the representatives from each team in attendance at its annual summer kickoff event this week, the Big Sky announced its preseason all-conference squad on Monday, a group that includes UC Davis running back Gabe Manzanares and placekicker Brady Stuart.
Manzanares rushed for 1,280 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013 as a junior transfer from City College of San Francisco, earning the Big Sky’s Newcomer of the Year award. The single-season performance was one of the finest by an Aggie running back in school history as the yards were fifth all-time and his 259 carries were the third-most at UCD.
“It’s a tremendous honor for Gabe to be on the list,” said Aggie head coach Ron Gould, who is in Utah for the kickoff event. “It’s a culmination of all his hard work and dedication. It also speaks volumes to the respect that he’s earned. It’s a tremendous honor and reflects his character and who he is.”
Manzanares ranked among the 2013 Football Championship Subdivision leaders for rushing yards per game and all-purpose yards. He enjoyed a breakout 208-yard rushing effort against Idaho State midway through the season before adding 175 at Southern Utah the next week, both times helping the Aggies post wins.
Earlier this summer he was named to the College Football Performance Awards Running Backs Watch List.
Stuart, a junior from Newhall who was named to the all-league third team last year, already has entrenched himself as one of the top kickers in Aggie history. He made a school-record 17 field goals last year, surpassing Eddie Loretto, who made 16 in 1985. That pushed Stuart’s career total to 32, ranking him third all-time as he pursues Loretto’s career record of 47 field goals.
Stuart, named to the CFPA’s placekicker’s watch list last week, was twice named the Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Week in 2013 and made 24 of 25 extra-point attempts.
“He’s a young man that’s put forth a tremendous amount of work of improving his leg strength, his competitiveness and his desire to want to be great,” Gould said. “He has all the tools and I think it’s also a product of his hard work as well as the respect from the league that’s he’s received this honor.
“I’m very thrilled for UC Davis and very thrilled for him as well.”
Notes: Junior quarterback Vernon Adams from Eastern Washington was selected as the Big Sky’s preseason offensive MVP while defensive end Zack Wagenmann of Montana was picked as the top preseason defensive player. … At the kickoff event, Aggie strong safety Charles Boyett was scheduled to meet with the media on Monday and Gould will talk today. … UCD’s fall camp begins Aug. 4 in preparation for the Aug. 30 season opener at Stanford. The home opener is Sept. 6 against Fort Lewis (Colo.). Season tickets are available through the UCD ticket office at 530-752-AGS1 or www.ucdavisaggies.com.