As more and more college football teams transition to spread offenses with heaps of wide receivers and slight — if any — semblance of a power running game, the fullback has been the odd man out at programs across the country.
Not at UC Davis, where the position is used in a multitude of ways, and the Aggies landed a versatile fullback on National Signing Day.
Atascadero High senior Ethan Hicks signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to accept a scholarship to the Big Sky Conference squad, saying the ability to stay in the role he embraced with the Greyhounds was a major factor.
“At some lower level schools, I was being recruited as a tailback, but fullback is definitely my position,” said Hicks, the PAC 5 offensive back of the year who ran for 739 yards and eight touchdowns and paved the way for an Atascadero offense that averaged 346.7 rushing yards per game. “I’m an aggressive guy, bigger, and I like to hit.”
Hicks said he made his official visit to Davis this past weekend, and made the decision to commit Monday.
“Their offense is a lot like ours,” he said. “They use the fullback in similar ways as us. Sometimes the fullback can be a slot receiver, sometimes it can be a tailback, sometimes it can be in a three-point stance blocking.”
The variety is nothing new to Hicks, who filled in at both running back and tight end this season because of injuries and also recorded 111 tackles as a linebacker.
“He’s one of the smartest football players I’ve ever coached,” said Atascadero coach Vic Cooper of Hicks, who hopes to enter Davis’ animal science program. “Every year, you’re going to get the kids that are classroom smart, but he was football smart on top of that.
“A lot of guys lead by example and others lead by talking, but he did a little bit of everything.”
Hicks said details of the scholarship have yet to be finalized, but it’s expected to cover the majority of his tuition.
He was the lone Greyhound honored at Wednesday afternoon’s ceremony, but not the only one to sign a National Letter of Intent.
Girls soccer midfielder Maia Mumford announced on Twitter she’d signed to play at Louisiana Monroe.
Mumford, who has 31 career goals, confirmed the news to The Tribune, and said a ceremony will take place next week.
Templeton’s Elterman, Griffin ink letters
Courtney Elterman nearly sat out of a UC Santa Barbara soccer camp with an injured hamstring before she opted instead to wear a brace and endure the pain.
The gain was being discovered by newly hired San Jose State coach Lauren Hanson, who offered the Templeton midfielder her only scholarship, and Elterman made good on her commitment by signing on the dotted line on National Signing Day.
“They have a brand new coaching staff,” said Elterman, who has seven goals from her center midfield role this season. “They are trying to rebuild a program, and I really want to be a part of that.”
Elterman played in the midfield at the club and high school level, but likely will play outside defender with the Spartans.
“Going from Templeton to any college level will be hard, but I think it’ll be fine,” she said. “My club coaches and high school coaches have definitely helped me get ready for that.”
Eagles quarterback Gunnar Griffin accepted a 75 percent scholarship to Division II Missouri Baptist, which just completed its inaugural season as a football program with a 1-10 record.
“There are brand new facilities, brand new equipment and brand new coaches,” said Griffin, who threw for 1,183 yards and ran for 202 more yards in his one year at Templeton after passing for 1,377 yards as a junior at Paso Robles. “Even if I don’t start at quarterback, coach said he wants to try me at new positions.”
Griffin said other positions include running back and tight end — neither of which he has played before but if it gets him on the field, he’ll give it a shot.
“I caught a couple passes this year, but that’s about it,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been playing quarterback my whole life … so I’m going to try to prove to them that I’m a college quarterback first.”
Elterman’s older brother Alex, a 2012 Templeton graduate, also signed Wednesday to punt and kick at Division II Humboldt State after spending time at Monterey Peninsula College.
Tigers honor four
San Luis Obispo recognized four student-athletes who will be taking their talents to the next level.
Sydney Knauer accepted a scholarship to the Cal Poly women’s soccer team to complete a trio of former Tigers on the Mustangs roster, Ben Lindahl signed to play on the Division II Cal Poly Pomona men’s soccer team, and Nate Greenelsh and David Chellsen both agreed to recruited walk-on spots on the Cal Poly football team.
“I love Cal Poly — I always have,” said Knauer, who will join former teammates Katarina Drake and Brady Candaele with the Mustangs. “The team, the atmosphere, the academic side of the school — honestly, the whole package.”
Knauer started going to camps in eighth grade and knows Cal Poly coach Alex Crozier from club soccer. She anticipates staying in the attacking center midfield or center forward positions, but isn’t going to limit her chances.
“I’m willing to play anywhere,” she said. “I do see myself somewhere in those positions, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be on that field.”
Lindahl was the PAC 7 defensive MVP as a center back his junior year, but moved up top for his senior season, and that’s where he and the Cal Poly Pomona coaches see him with the Broncos.
“It was kind of stressful,” Lindahl said of the recruiting process. “I met a lot of coaches and then they’d switch jobs, so you’d lose a connection here or there and you’d have to meet a lot of new people.
“But I think I’ve got the right connection, and I’m really happy with the decision I made.”
Greenelsh was a first team All-County wide receiver as a senior, and the defending PAC 7 track sprinting champion brings knowledge of the triple option after playing in the system as a sophomore and junior.
“The first time I ever went to a Cal Poly game back in elementary school, it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen,” said Greenelsh, who was also offered walk-on spots at UC Davis and San Diego. “It’s crazy it’s finally come true.”
Chellsen, a 6-foot-5 offensive lineman, missed the majority of his sophomore season and all of his junior season with knee injuries attributed to a rapid growth spurt.
He said those problems are behind him, and he proved it by turning in a second-team All-County senior season.
“I have no reoccurring pain from that injury, and that’s almost more exciting than everything else,” said Chellsen, whose father, Mike, played basketball for the Mustangs in the 1980s. “Even without athletics, the engineering program (at Cal Poly) is top notch, so I think Cal Poly’s for me either way.”
Eagles’ top defender finds a new home
After a high school career in which she was the PAC 7 defender of the year as a sophomore and the overall league MVP as a junior, Eagles senior Summer Soriano will continue her playing days at Division I Southern Utah.
“I was mostly looking at California schools,” said Soriano, who plans to major in elementary education, “but I think going out of state will strengthen me as a person.”
Arroyo Grande coach Bob Wilson admitted life without his strongest defender is going to take some getting used to.
“We’ve had her for three years saving the day all the time back there,” said Wilson, whose team has won back-to-back league titles and has shut out opponents 13 times this year. “We’re not going to have her next year, so it’ll be a whole new look.”