HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … UC Davis.
UC DAVIS (5-6 IN 2017)
Big Sky (UC Davis was 8th in 2017)
COACH: Dan Hawkins – 2nd year (5-6 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 33.6 ppg. (17th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 32.2 ppg. (103rd in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The improvements were noticeable in 2017 under Dan Hawkins. Now in Year 2, the expectations have hit new heights. UC Davis wants to make the playoffs. And the Aggies have the roster to do it. Thirteen starters return, including some of the best position players in the Big Sky. Everyone should know the name Keelan Doss by now. The wide receiver is an NFL Draft prospect who dominated last year as a Walter Payton Award finalist with 115 catches for 1,499 yards and seven touchdowns.
Tight end Wesley Preece, who actually led UC Davis with nine touchdown receptions, is also back. The man behind center, Jake Maier, returns coming off a season where he was named the Big Sky's Newcomer of the Year. The weapons are there offensively. And with seven of its top 10 tacklers returning, the defense, which struggled last year, should get better. Expectations are high for this program this year to take the next step. Our preseason Top 25 poll has UC Davis ranked No. 22.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: UC Davis makes the playoffs. Having two FBS games before the conference slate may not seem ideal, but the Aggies have a legit chance to knock off San Jose State. The FCS opponent in the nonconference schedule is San Diego, a playoff team. Going 2-1 there definitely has UC Davis as a Top 25 team and some momentum. The Big Sky schedule is favorable, avoiding fellow up-and-comer Montana State and last year's co-champs Weber State and Southern Utah. This is a team capable of going 5-3 in conference play. A 7-4 record with an FBS win gets UC Davis into the playoffs.
TOP RETURNEE: WR Keelan Doss (HERO Sports Preseason First Team All-American)
THE NEXT BEST: QB Jake Maier (3,669 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INT.); TE Wesley Preece (36 rec. 568 yards, 9 TDs); CB Vincent White (All-Conference Honorable Mention); LB Nas Anesi (top returning tackler, 65 total); DL Terrell Cloud (7.5 TFLs, 5 sacks)
TOP NEWCOMER: TE Matthew Hyman (Santa Rosa JC transfer, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds)
DID YOU KNOW?: UC Davis played football at the Division II level from 1973 to 2006 before making the jump to the FCS. The Aggies joined the Big Sky in 2012.
THE QUOTE: "(Keelan Doss is) really a unique individual. He's hard to accurately describe. Everybody looks at his size and speed. He led all of Division I in catches. He's a really, really talented player. He could've went out early or transferred up, but had a real loyalty to UC Davis. Had a real loyalty to the guys in the locker room. Had some unfinished business. It says a lot about his character." — Head Coach Dan Hawkins said at Big Sky media days
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #AGScension
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @UCDfootball