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Golden Nuggets: Isi Sofele Stands Tall Above His Competition at Running Back

One week into practice, Isi Sofele has stood out among the other running backs--several of whom are returning from injuries.

When asked about the competition at tailback, he said: "Right now, besides Isi (Sofele), there's not a back that can play at our level."

While much of the attention this spring is rightly focused on the inexperience Cal has at quarterback and the competition taking place there, the Bears have similar uncertainty at tailback. In recent years, when Cal has broken in a new starter, he had proven himself in a backup role that the Bears felt comfortable with the transition. From Marshawn Lynch to Justin Forsett to Jahvid Best to Shane Vereen, each tailback stepped in with no reservations around the program.

This year is different. Sofele was the backup last season but carried the ball just 69 times and is far from a sure thing. That being said, Tedford says at this point Sofele is light years ahead of any of his challengers.

"Right now, there's a difference between him and the next few guys," Tedford said.

One of those guys is junior Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, who has been in the program longer than any other tailback on the roster. A knee injury late last season set back his conditioning, and he weighs 225 pounds, about 10 pounds more than he'd like.

"Everyone is about two weeks ahead of me," DeBoskie-Johnson said. "I feel good, but I just know I'm heavy. I can feel myself being heavy."

After the jump football makes major changes to its practice schedule, gymnastics coach Tim McNeill wins Coach of the Year in his inaugural season, and baseball wins the series against USC.