Who's ready for some football? Originally, this slot was scheduled for Cal Sweet 16 coverage. Sadly enough, ever since they canceled the NCAA basketball tournament before Cal could play USF (that's how I remember it) we've had to shift gears to our gridiron #CalGang.
As is typically the case in spring, the news is sparse, but heavily infused with that sweet California sunshine.
1) KA tore ligaments in his ankle during a pick-up basketball game. He had surgery two weeks ago, but was present at practice on crutches to take mental reps. He has been happy to work with new position coach Wes Chandler citing that the coach's experience playing receiver makes a huge difference. Allen is expected to recover fully in time for summer workouts.
Knee-jerk: We cannot confirm nor deny that the Rope Coach has been stationed at the RSF to lasso any players trying to play pick-up ball.
Deep Thoughts: We already know what KA21 can do. Although it would have been nice for him to get more reps with Coach Chandler's new drills, this unfortunate injury could help the development of Maurice Harris. Already touted as having the best hands on the team, Harris is projected as the #2 receiver and just needs more time on the field to get comfortable.
2) With Zach Maynard missing several early practices for academic study groups, Allan Bridgford has been taking the snaps as #1 QB. He has reportedly gotten stronger, has fully recovered from his shoulder injury, and is looking good throwing the ball. At the start of camp, Coach Tedford praised Maynard for looking like an established veteran.
Knee-jerk: Quarterback controversy! Woo! Who ya got - Team Mayo or Team Bridge?
The coaches keep saying that Maynard's academics aren't an issue. And yet, the question keeps getting asked. It's probably too early to panic, but it will be interesting to see how much he participates when practice resumes after spring break. This is a great opportunity for Bridgford to get reps running the team. We've seen in the past how quickly a promising season can get flushed if the starting QB goes down and the backup isn't ready.
3) Joel Willis has been moved full-time to wide receiver. This speaks to both the lack of scholarship depth at the position and perhaps to confidence in the other young DBs.
Knee-Jerk: Of that touted receiver class a few years ago, KA21 is the last one standing. Recruiting misses happen. But missing on almost an entire position group really puts stress on the depth chart.
With Coley and McClure recovering and expected to be ready for fall camp, we'll have a good mix of veterans and youth. Marc Anthony and Steve Williams return as starters at the corner with Josh Hill moving back to safety. Avery Sebastian is slated to step up and command the other safety spot. That leaves Michael Coley, Stefan McClure, Kameron Jackson, and Adrian Lee as well as incoming frosh Raymond Ford.
Joel Willis was rated as a top-100 athlete coming out of high school.He's a speedster who is dangerous in the open field as both a returner and receiver. If he can develop, this could be the deep threat we've needed that could really help open up the field for Harris and Allen.
Highlights are here and this is what ESPN thought of him:
Flashes very good speed, acceleration and a natural stride that can kick into an extra gear. Elusive as well showing fluid hips cutting laterally to avoid and smooth movement skills in the openfield. Hands are soft, transitions up-field quickly after the grab and overall displays polished receiving skills out of the backfield or if positioned in the slot. The flexibility to motion in and out and create mismatches and personnel problems for opposing defenses is invaluable.
4) Mustafa Jalil and Deandre Coleman look ready to step in as starters at defensive end. Todd Barr and Gabe King have earned early praise as their backups. The players seem to be warming up to new position coach Todd Howard and appreciate his technical knowledge.
Knee-jerk: We want to know if Howard plays XBox! Gamertag is TrenchWarrior?
Last year was a bit of a step back in production from the defensive end position. No shame there because we didn't have any veterans who compared talent-wise to Cameron Jordan or Tyson Alualu. Waiting in the wings, however, is another story. Jalil was incredibly impressive to earn regular snaps as a true frosh. Coleman is a load and strong enough to move inside on passing downs. The coaches have been waiting for King to put it all together, but he's another huge athlete. And Todd Barr has a serious motor.
Knee-jerk: Speed kills, baby!!!
We have a great rotation between Isi Sofele and CJ Anderson. Ervin was being used in a variety of roles as a scatback/slotback last spring before tearing ligaments in his ankle. He's extremely shifty and offers a nice change of pace. Lasco was last year's frosh lifter of the year and POY for the scout team. If Bigelow can re-gain his confidence, it would be great to see if we could find ways to use him as a De'Anthony Thomas-like weapon out of the backfield.
The team is off for spring break this week. We'll keep you updated with more camp news when we hear it.
In case you missed them, here are reports from Jeff Faraudo's BearTalk beat: