Golden Nuggets: Profiling every member of the Cal football family

CalBearsOnline

Find out how Cal football is improving this spring straight from the players and coaches.

Let's kick off today's mountain of spring-football news with the bright spot from last year—our wide receivers. In fact, they're such reliable and talented assets, our QBs feel comfortable just throwing anything in their direction and trust them to come down with the ball.

For a program going through some growing pains as it rebuilds itself in the rugged Pac-12 Conference, there is still one area of the team that stacks up against anyone.

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"When we're healthy, we believe we're the No. 1 receiving corps in the nation," said sophomore wideout Kenny Lawler, who was a revelation as a redshirt freshman last season when he co-led the Bears with five touchdown catches. "When we're all healthy, we know we're going to go up top on some people."

One of these weapons—Trevor Davis—hasn't even officially played for the Bears yet, but has been impressed by Berkeley and impressed his coaches on Day One.

"I knew they had a lot of really good (receivers) here," Davis said. "I knew it would challenge me. I wanted to go somewhere where it would challenge me to be a better player. I knew it would push me to become better."

ESPN spoke with another potential offensive weapon, running back Jeffrey Coprich about the improvements he's seeing on offense and defense.

Before we move on from offense and switch over to defense, let's talk about... both? FB TE IR S LB Maximo Espitia has selflessly done it all for the Bears. He's been moved around based on his head coach's assessments, changes to the coaching staff itself, and out of necessity.

[I]f Espitia had the choice of where he would play, it would be receiver. He said he enjoys running routes, making cuts and going up to catch a pass.

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"I expected to stay at receiver once I got there," Espitia said. "We were lacking depth on defense, and I offered to move over there. I had played a little bit on defense in high school, so I figured, why not? It worked out."

The move to safety was due to lack of depth at the position, but according to linebackers coach Garret Chachere, Espitia has more of the skillset and athleticism needed to be a linebacker.

Espitia might start to feel comfortable at linebacker (before we move him to OL or something) in part because of the changes to the defensive staff and the new system being installed by first-year defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. Kaufman needs to salvage a train wreck and to do it quickly. Lucky for us, he's used to that.

For Kaufman, it's a process he's become all too familiar with over the past few years. Cal stands as his fourth school in four years, following stops as the defensive coordinator at North Carolina (2011), Texas Tech (2012) and Cincinnati (2013).

"[Having gone through it] it's easier to install and not be as impatient or wonder about the uncertainties because I've done it enough," he said. "I know what we're going to do and how we're going to do it."

Kaufman also spoke at length with CalBears.com about his philosophy in being a new coach and quickly finding success.

"The biggest thing is to give guys a foundation that they can hang their hat on and a base to start from," Kaufman said. Sometimes we want to go to the end and find the answer before we know what the whole process is, and it's all a process. For me that brings patience."

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"We try to get our players to understand that they are one piece of the puzzle," Kaufman added. "If they understand what their role is, where they have to be, and why they have to be there that's critical. We try to explain to all our players why they have to do the job a certain way, or why they have to be in a certain place at a certain time within a certain call. If they can understand that then I think it makes it easier for them to believe it."

The success of Kaufman's unit will rely heavily on returning DL Brennan Scarlett, an impact player who last suited up for us in 2012 as an LB.

By the time Cal kicks off its 2014 season at Northwestern on Aug. 30, it will have been more than 21 months since Scarlett played in a game.

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"After the first practice I knew I was going to be fine," he said. "Got my confidence back, made a few plays."

Overall, the Bears are getting better. Coach Sonny Dykes described the Bears' eagerness to keep playing after rigorous practices:

"It's a different football team. Our mentality is much improved. We're much more physical, much more tough."

If you still haven't had your fill of spring-practice news, we've some more tidbits down below and you can even learn about our school's other excellent programs. You should also check out this Cal Day performance. Cal Band Great, indeed.

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