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UCD’s Creighton: ‘We have the best kids I’ve ever been around’

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First-year UCD recruiting coordinator Paul Creighton, right, is a former Auburn coach who is also working with Aggie tight ends. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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From page B1 | August 10, 2014 |

He’s played and coached in the Pac-12. While graduate strength-and-conditioning assistant at Auburn, he was part of a national championship team.

Now, after two seasons at Colorado State (Pueblo), Paul Creighton is working with the UC Davis tight ends and finding the next Aggie talent as recruiting coordinator.

“He is passionate. His attention to detail is second to none and he comes every day with a lot energy,” UCD head coach Ron Gould says of Creighton. “But his focus on the minute things is very important to me. He’s a family guy who cares about the players. Those are the things that really caught my eye.”

Replacing Ben Steele, who joined former Cal boss Jeff Tedford with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Creighton wanted to hit the ground running but needed first to get the lay of the land.

“I walked in the door and started talking to area talent, but when I first got here you could have said ‘Vacaville’ and I would have asked ‘Where’s that? San Diego?’ ” says the personable Creighton, who has known Aggie defensive coordinator Bert Watts from their days roaming the sidelines in different Colorado gigs. “I’m getting acclimated … wrapping my brain around what will be my main territory.”

At CSUP, Creighton was charged with the ThunderWolves’ defensive line. But since he played the position, he’s comfortable working with Aggie tight ends.

After just one week in camp, he says things still are shaking out as to which TEs will play when, but he took some time to answer questions about Auburn football and the difference between it and UCD.

“Obviously the SEC is kind of the football capital of the world,” Creighton explains. “For me, it became a full-time job trying to keep the 10,000 fans who came to practice off the field.”

Practice? Ten thousand?

Tommy Tuberville was the Tigers’ coach in Creighton’s days on staff and Auburn had beaten Alabama six years in a row.

Creighton says after the NCAA crown, it started “a little bit of a downturn there,” but at UCD “the wheels are turning … we’re moving uphill.”

“There is a great tradition of football here,” the coach continues. “But there’s been this huge transition to Division I — and now we’re in one of the toughest conferences in the country at the FCS level. The gears are turning. We’re trying to accelerate this program to be where … when people say Big Sky football, year in and year out, they say UC Davis.”

Creighton sees all the planets aligned.

“The environment we have here — the community, the campus and the academics … If we can find the right kids, it’s exciting for us as coaches to work with them.”

Creighton went on …

“And I’ll say this, too. God’s honest truth: we have the best kids I’ve ever been around. I really like who they are as people.”

He used another example:

“Every other school I’ve been at, we had (study hall) in place. It would be a mess: kids talking, texting. I’d go hoarse … trying to (organize) things. Here, it’s three hours straight of dead silence.”

Creighton says in Aggie study hall, all one hears is “typing on the computer, pages turning. I’m coaching kids who are smarter than I am. That’s not necessarily new, but they’re pretty sharp.”

That’s something Aggie Nation already knew.

Notes: The Sports Network this week named Eastern Washington (at UCD Sept. 27) as the nation’s No. 1 FCS school. Other Big Sky teams ranked are No. 5 Montana (Aggies play in Missoula Oct. 18), Montana State (Davis Homecoming on Oct. 11) and Northern Arizona (there Nov. 8). Cal Poly and Southern Utah also received votes. … Creighton and his wife Kathleen live in Woodland. They have a 1 1/2-year-old daughter, June, and another little one on the way next month. In commuting from Woodland, Creighton laughed: “I feel like I’m in Iowa.” … In checking in with area prep coaches, Creighton found common ground with Davis High football coach John Wiley, a former Auburn All-SEC defender. “We exchanged a ‘War Eagle’ when we hung up.”

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or 530-320-4456.

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