March 10, 2014
Gabe Manzanares made an immediate impact during his first year with the UC Davis Aggies in 2013, helping the Aggies put together a formidable rushing attack. The walk-in running back went on to earn Big Sky Newcomer of the Year honors. Former Aggie Ryan O'Holleran is profiling Aggies during the offseason and recently had a chance to speak with Manzanares.
"Quarterback U" is what many people use when talking about the UC Davis football program, that is, until Gabe Manzanareswalked onto campus last summer. The transfer from City College of San Francisco entered this season running like he had something to prove and captured not only the attention of Aggie fans but the Big Sky as well.
Who is Gabe Manzanares? That seems to be the question everyone is asking after the 2013 season. The star running back exploded onto the scene this past year when he became the first Aggie running back since Matt Massari (1,274 yds, 2002) to rush for more than 1,000 yards - 1,285 yards to be exact. Manzanares rushed for more than 100 yards in seven of his 11 games played. That's correct, he rushed for 1,285 yards and did not even play in one of the games (Nevada).
However, there is a lot more to Gabe's story than what you see on the field. A graduate of St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, Gabe went to Wesleyan in Connecticut. After two seasons at Wesleyan, Manzanares headed to City CCSF until he connected with UC Davis in the spring .
After a journey like this how did Manzanares respond? "Prepared," he said, and that's exactly what he was. In his first week at UC Davis, Manzanares was singled out in front of the team during a conditioning session by Coach Gould as an example of the kind of effort and attention to detail everyone else on the team should be giving.
When asked which game did he know that his career was heading in the right direction? "Idaho State," he replied.
This shouldn't surprise many Aggie fans as he rushed for 208 yards on 34 attempts while averaging 6.1 yards per carry."That was the moment I knew things were going the right way," he said. However, Manzanares has higher goals set than just having a successful season rushing.
If he could do one thing this coming season, what would it be?
"Go all the way, win a national championship."
That seems to be every team's goal every year but with a new coaching staff led by Coach Gould, the goal just seems a little bit closer.
What gives Manzanares the ability to break two or three tackles on every carry and rush for more than 1,000 yards? Could it be that growing up around the steep streets of San Francisco gave him those strong legs? Could it be his previous love of baseball that gave him the vision he needs to see those holes when he makes a cut?
It's hard to say, but all Aggie fans can hope for is that Manzanares keeps running and his offensive line keeps blocking because when that happens, the Aggies are a force to be reckoned with.
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vs. 22/RV Northern Arizona (4 p.m.)