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Courtesy: USF Athletics

Cougar Football Adds Two During Early Signing Period

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 12/19/2012
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Raymond Bautista and Nephi Garcia signed letters of intent with the University of Sioux Falls football team on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for junior college student-athletes.

"We are happy to welcome Raymond and Nephi to the Coo family," said USF head coach Jed Stugart. "We truly expect them to not only be tremendous assets to the football program, but to the entire campus community."

Raymond Bautista Bautista, a 6-0, 217-pound inside linebacker, played the last two seasons at Sacramento City College in Sacramento, Calif. During the 2012-13 season, he averaged 9.3 tackles per game, in conference play, en route to a team-high 87 tackles, which ranked first in the Mid-Empire conference. A native of Woodland, Calif., Bautista also added 9 TFL, 2 FR and 1.5 sacks for the Panthers last season.

As a freshman, Bautista proved to be an immediate impact on defense, securing 66 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks and 1 Int. His tackle and sack totals ranked second on the squad. Bautista's performance off the field was equally impressive, as he maintained a 3.91 grade point average during his tenure at Sacramento City. He plans to enroll in the criminal studies program at USF. Bautista is the fifth player from Sacramento City to sign with USF in the last three seasons.

"We're really excited about what Raymond brings to our linebacker unit," Stugart said. "He's one of those special players with a strong understanding of the game, one that allows him to utilize his intelligence and athletic ability to make plays. You watch him on film and he's constantly around the football."

Nephi Garcia Garcia, a 5-7, 192-pound running back, joins the Cougars following two years at the College of the Desert located in Palm Desert, Calif. In 2012-13, Garcia picked up 7.3 yards per carry to lead the Roadrunners with 597 rushing yards and 7 TD in only six games played. He also added 70 receiving yards for the College of the Desert last season. Garcia's scoring total of 48 points was second only to the Roadrunners' kicker, and his rushing total ranked fourth in the Central conference. He was also an effective return specialist for the Roadrunners. Averaging 20.8 yards per kick return and 16 per punt return, he accounted for the team's lone punt returned for a score last season.

Garcia rushed for 249 yards and 6 TD as a freshman, when he was also the squad's top kick and punt returner. He also served as punter on occasion. In two seasons, Garcia recorded 10 punts for the Roadrunners, averaging 31 yards per punt, including a long of 54 yards.

"Graduating three seniors this season, we identified depth and competition at the running back position as an area that we needed to address," Stugart said. "Nephi will help fill that void. He's a strong kid, who adds both power and quickness to our backfield. He will be a great addition to a very young and exciting running back core."

Bautista and Garcia's highlight videos can be retrieved by clicking on their highlighted names or headshots.

Early signing period continues through January 15.

USF finished its first-ever Northern Sun Intercollegiate conference slate with a record of 9-2 in 2012-13.

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