UC Davis opens spring football practices on Tuesday

Artice Nelson led UC Davis in tackles last season.
March 30, 2015

2015 Schedule

DAVIS, Calif. - Hope springs eternal and for the UC Davis football team, hope for a successful 2015 season begins with hard work during spring football practices which begin Tuesday and run throughout April at Aggie Stadium.

The Aggies will practice 15 times over the next four weeks, culminating with their annual spring game on Apr. 25. Practices are scheduled from 8:20-10:20 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8:40-10 a.m. on Fridays (except for Apr. 24), and on Saturdays from 10:20 a.m.-noon. The spring game is scheduled for 10:40 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Weekday practices are closed to the public. Fans are welcome to Saturday practices this week and on Apr. 25. Fan opportunities for Apr. 11 and Apr. 18 will be announced later.

UC Davis will open the 2015 season on Sept. 3 at Nevada, visiting the Wolf Pack for the second time in three years. The Aggies will play their home opener on Sept. 12 against South Dakota. That'll be the start of a five-game home schedule which also includes Montana (Oct. 3), Northern Arizona (Oct. 10), Southern Utah (Oct. 24) and Cal Poly (Nov. 14)

The Season: UC Davis is beginning its 97th season of football in 2015 and its third in the Big Sky. The Aggies finished the 2014 season with a 2-9 overall record and a 1-7 (13th place) mark in the Big Sky Conference.

Welcome Back: UC Davis returns 18 starters overall, including five on offense, nine on defense and four on special teams. Among the returners are All-Big Sky honorable mention selections Ben Scott (QB, 6-3, 200, Jr.), Parker Smith (C, 6-4, 290, Sr.), Ramon Vargas (WR, 6-2, 185, Sr.) and Colby Wadman (P, 6-1, 205, Jr.). Additionally, seven players return that were honored on the Big Sky Fall All-Academic Team (3.2 GPA and above): Keelan Doss (6-3, 185, So.), Grant Hilton (LS, 6-1, 200, So.), Jordan Hoyt (DT, 6-4, 265, So.), Chris Martin (6-1, 180, Jr.), Zak Pettit (DE, 6-4, 255, Jr.), Christian Schneider (OL, 6-6, 290, Jr.) and Robert Taylor (CB, 5-11, 175, So.).

Great Scott!: QB Ben Scott made his Aggie debut with brief action against Fort Lewis (Colo.) in the second game of the season before getting the starting call for good in the fifth game against Montana State. Scott responded with an impressive run over the final six games that helped him finish his sophomore season with 140-218-7 passing for 1,734 yards and 19 TDs. He threw at least two touchdowns in each of his six starts, posted 300-yard games against #11/14 Montana State (379) and Northern Colorado (301), and barely missed another against Cal Poly (298).

Vargas Comes Alive: Like Scott, Vargas had very little experience with UC Davis before jumping into the forefront of the Aggies' offensive attack. He had four catches for 53 yards against Portland State in his first 2014 appearance but then rattled off successful 100-yard games and scoring streaks against Montana State (8-141, 1 TD), Montana (8-129, 2 TDs) and Northern Colorado (9-122, 2 TDs). Vargas scored eight touchdowns over the final eight games of the season. For the year, he played just seven games but led UC Davis in receiving: 41-665, 8 TDs.

FBS Opponents: The Aggies will travel to face FBS foes Nevada (Sept. 3) and Hawai'i (Sept. 12), marking the 11th straight season that UC Davis has played an FBS team. The Aggies are 2-12 in those games and are 3-12 since 1986. The game against the Wolf Pack is their second meeting in three years while Hawai'i and UC Davis last met in 2011. The Aggies' two FBS wins came against Stanford (20-17, 2005) and San Jose State (14-13, 2010). The 2015 season marks the fifth time they've played two FBS teams in a season, it's the second consecutive year they've done so, and it's fifth time in the past seven. UC Davis recently announced FBS games against San Diego State (2017) and Cal (2019). The Aggies will play at Oregon and Wyoming in 2016.

Top Tacklers Abound: UC Davis lost just one of its top eight tacklers to graduation (LB, Steven Pitts, 52 TT) but welcomes back the other seven, including the top three: SS Keleen Culberson (5-11, 205, Jr.; 73 TT), LB Artice Nelson (6-3, 225, Sr; 60 TT) and FS Zach Jones (5-11, 225, Jr.). Also returning are LB Russell Reeder (6-3, 225, Jr.; 46 TT), DE Zak Pettit (41 TT), CB Shamawn Wright (5-9, 170, Sr.) and DT Kyle DeVaughn (5-11, 285, Sr.).

Kicker's Delight: You know you've had productive career overall when you make just five field goals in a season but are still within striking distance of the program's school record entering your final year. Such is the case with K Brady Stuart (5-11, 163, Sr.) who was 5 for 11 during his junior campaign but only needs 11 to break the school record of 47 held by Eddie Loretto (1985-88). Stuart will enter the season third with 57 FGA and seventh with 92 PATs. He ended the season by making his final three kicks. Stuart had a school-record 17 field goals in 2013.

Wadman Can Kick, Too: Aggie fans got spoiled with former All-Big Sky first-team punter Colton Schmidt who is now the starting punter for the Buffalo Bills. Schmidt capped his UC Davis career by averaging a school-record 44.48 yards in 2012. Enter Colby Wadman (6-1, 185, Jr.), who's made a name for himself in just two seasons. He's twice been named All-Big Sky honorable mention and last season averaged 42.26 yards -- fourth-best in school history -- while adding a long of 65 yards and putting 13 of his 54 kicks (24%) inside the 20. Wadman's also not allowed a blocked punt in 121 total career attempts.

Replacing the Irreplaceable: One of the challenges facing the Aggies will be continuing the rekindled running game sparked by graduated standout Gabe Manzanares (2,116 yds, 15 TDs, '13 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, two-time All-Big Sky) who helped UC Davis average 148.8 ypg. the last two seasons. junior RB Manusamoa Luuga (21-137, 2 TDs) and sophomore RB Justin Williams (23-110, 1 TD) will lead that effort with others waiting in the wings.

New Staff Faces: UC Davis welcomes three new coaches and a new staff member during the offseason. Wes Nurse, most recently at Minnesota-Crookston who also coached with the Aggies in 2011, returns to coach the cornerbacks. He's joined on the defensive side by David Braun from Winona State who'll coach the offensive line while Jim Chapin will coach running backs. Chapin was most recently at Indiana Univ. (Pa.). Matt Ulrich, a member of the Notre Dame College football staff last season, joins the Aggies to oversee defensive quality control.

Media Info: Please contact Asst. AD, Communications Mike Robles (merobles@ucdavis.edu, (530) 979-1747) to arrange player and coach interviews and to confirm practice times. Players are not available prior to practice but are available afterwards depending upon class schedule... Please place player interview requests 24 hours in advance to ensure availability... All media need to check in with Mike Robles prior to entering the playing field area and/or filming and taking photos.

2015 UC Davis Football Schedule
(Game times TBA)
Sept. 3 (Thu.) - at Nevada
Sept. 19 - at Hawai'i
Sept. 26 - at North Dakota*
Oct. 3 - MONTANA*
Oct. 17 - at Northern Colorado*
Nov. 7 - at Weber State*
Nov. 14 - CAL POLY*
Nov. 21 - at Sacramento State* (62nd annual Causeway Classic)

* - Big Sky Conference game
Home games in ALL CAPS

2015 Spring Football Practice Schedule
Tue., Apr. 1 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Thu., Apr. 3 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Fri., Apr. 4 (8:40-10 a.m.)
Sat., Apr. 5 (10:20-noon)
Tue., Apr. 7 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Thu., Apr. 9 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Fri., Apr. 10 (8:40-10 a.m.)
Sat., Apr. 11 (10:20 a.m.-noon)
Tue., Apr. 14 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Thu., Apr. 16 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Fri., Apr. 17 (8:40 a.m.-10 a.m.)
Sat., Apr. 18 (10:20 a.m.-noon)
Tue., Apr. 21 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Thu., Apr. 23 (8:20-10:20 a.m.)
Sat., Apr. 25 (10:40 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Spring Game)