Hornet Awards – Best freshman male athlete: Garrett Safron

AJ Taylor

Minutes before kickoff it was uncertain who would lead the Hornets’ offense during homecoming. Head coach Marshall Sperbeck had two options: Fleming, who had led the Hornets earlier in the season to upset Oregon State University, but was suffering from a sprained calf, or a duo of first-time NCAA starters.

Sperbeck asked his starter, “How’s the calf?”

Fleming couldn’t go on. The Hornets were to be led for the first time by Garrett Safron and Tommy Edwards against one of their most intimidating opponents to date: defending national champion Eastern Washington.

So began the ushering of Safron to take the reins of the Hornet offense.

Against Eastern Washington, Safron rushed for 100 yards and finished with a perfect completion percentage, but the Hornets fell in overtime. When Northern Arizona University came to Sacramento State the duo took the field together again. That night the Hornets lost 27-26 as Safron completed five of seven passes for 130 yards and rushed for 19 outdoing his counterpart in both categories.

Fleming was healthy next week and took the field against Portland State, but he incurred a concussion and never made the field the rest of the season. Since that game, Safron took the majority of the snaps for the Hornets but still shared time with Edwards.

When the UC Davis Aggies came to Sac State, however, Sperbeck decided Safron had earned his own start.

Safron passed for 155 yards and rushed for 93 as the Hornets lost their second consecutive Causeway Classic 23-19.

Safron played more time and got more snaps in the final game than he had in the previous four combined. Still, it was the last play of the season – Hornets down two scores and the clock down to one second – when Hornet fans caught an inspiring glimpse of who Safron really is as he rushed 30 yards, breaking multiple tackles, to dive into the right corner of the end-zone for six final points.

“I don’t like losing, I’m always doing my best every play,” Safron said. “I’ve got a lot of heart for this game. I love it.”

With Fleming’s NCAA eligibility exhausted, the field is open for a new quarterback to step in but Sperbeck has been hesitant to commit this far. Nobody knows yet who is heir to Fleming’s throne.

“I’m not really sure what’s on Sperbeck’s mind right now. I just know I’ve got to go out and compete and be ready,” Safron said. “I still have a lot to learn about this game and this offense. I can’t wait actually.”

Comments about Garrett Safron:

Marshall Sperbeck, Sac State head coach: “We are excited about his future and believe that he can be a good player in out conference. Garrett needs to study film and get more comfortable with the offense (before next season). We never considered playing him as a freshman.” 

Travis Park, high school coach: “His confidence is soaring right now. I think he’s going to be a great quarterback for Sac State for years to come. He is a special athlete, (Sac State) will see that soon. I believe, eventually, he will earn that job.”


AJ Taylor can be reached at [email protected].