Buzz of the Crowd: Team chemistry overcomes all

State Hornet Staff

Having a crew of superstars does not always guarantee success, but having a formula for team chemistry will.

College football programs all over the nation have tried to recruit a lineup of five-star players to make themselves unstoppable.

Both the University of Miami and Auburn finished in the top 10 in recruiting last season, but this year their records have nothing to show for it. So what makes Sacramento State successful this season without the superstars?

Although the Hornets will never compete on the same recruiting plane as Miami or Auburn, the team has taken a combination of recruitment of key players and experience that was already in place to give them their best start in 20 years.

People may not realize that Sac State is starting a sophomore at quarterback. Last season, Garrett Safron was thrown into the fire after Jeff Fleming was injured on two separate occasions.

This season, Safron has played against five separate senior quarterbacks. As the baby quarterback of the Big Sky Conference, he has quietly outperformed his opposition, sitting third in pass completion and fourth in touchdown passes.

With the right recruiting moves, the Hornets brought in a pair of running backs with some experience.

A.J. Ellis played three years at Fresno State, but injuries forced him to sit out parts of all three seasons. Now receiving his master’s degree at Sac State, Ellis provides leadership to the backfield.

Ezekiel Graham finished last season as one of the best running backs in California community college football. He currently stands at fourth in the Big Sky in rushing yards and certainly could be playing at a bigger football school, but universities considered him a risk academically.

Whether it is finding diamonds in the rough on the depth chart or better recruiting strategies, the mixture has brewed some team chemistry at Sac State. Football is succeeding and is certainly turning some heads. This season, the players have showed that they are here not only to play, but to win. Senior tight end T.J. Knowles even said in a post game press conference last Saturday that the team carries a different attitude – they are positive.

These athletes are not superstars, but rather a bunch of guys who have come together to play football. Although the idea of a first ever playoff berth is miles down the road, at least the Hornets are traveling in the right direction.

Ryan Kuhn can be reached at @rskuhn