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Cal Football Fall Camp Preview: The Wide Receivers

It's not often that you lose an NFL draft pick, yet still feel a position is an area of strength. In fact, although no one individual appears ready to replicate Keenan Allen's unique skill set, it may very well be that this group as a whole could be more productive. It's a diverse group of talented players who offer a variety of different looks. Despite their relative youth, it's to former wide receiver coach Wes Chandler's credit that so many of last year's freshmen were ready to contribute as both receivers and blockers.


Wide Receivers:

X: Bryce Treggs(So)/Drake Whitehurst(Jr)
H: Chris Harper(So)/Maximo Espita(So)/Darius Powe(So)
Y: Jackson Bouza(Sr)/Stephen Anderson(So)/Richard Rodgers(Jr)
Z: Kenny Lawler(Fr)/Maurice Harris(So)

Also: Spencer Hagan(Sr), Jacob Wark(Jr), Joel Willis(So), Ray Hudson(Fr), Jack Austin(Fr), Caleb Coleman(Fr)

Chris Harper was perhaps the biggest surprise of the young receivers last season and was certainly the most productive. He ran good routes, displayed great hands, and showed off some impressive elusiveness after the catch. It's a testament to his production that he was still listed as a starter despite missing the entire spring rehabbing a shoulder injury.

Bryce Treggs didn't get much of a chance to showcase his abilities last year before getting knocked out by an ankle injury. He was one of the clear stars and leaders during spring ball. Known for his quickness and smooth routes, he's the perfect fit for the Dykes/Franklin offense. It would not be a surprise at all to see him put up huge numbers this year.

Kenny Lawler was another break-out star from spring ball. He's got great size (6'3, 180), but might be the fastest of our wide receivers. The Z position in the Bear Raid is often used as a deep threat, so expect to see fades and go routes.

Jackson Bouza may not have blinding speed or explosive athleticism. But he works hard and has a knack for getting open as the stereotypical move-the-chains possession receiver. There are plenty of receivers who had higher accolades out of high school. If they're not careful, Bouza is going to out-work them and find his way onto the field.

Darius Powe is a tall receiver whose strength is his leaping and ability to go up and make the tough catch in traffic. Maurice Harris is another larger receiver who reportedly had the best hands on the team last year.

Drake Whitehurst was recruited as a junior transfer from CCSF for his height.(6'6) Not exactly a blazer, he may very well be Mr. Fade Pattern as well as a big target in the red zone or on 3rd down.

Stephen Anderson is a walk-on who has a nice blend of size and speed. He lead all receivers in receptions in last year's spring game including a key 75-yard go-ahead score.

Joel Willis made the switch from defensive back last spring. He's known for blazing speed and good all-around ball skills. He was also getting some carries at tailback early in spring ball before breaking his foot and missing the rest of the practice period. The coaches were looking to use him as a multi-threat utility slot back in the De'Anthony Thomas mold.

The tight ends and H-backs on the roster have all been re-classified as wide receivers. Both Richard Rodgers and Spencer Hagan sat out of spring ball while they recovered from injury. Dykes has already mentioned that he'll go with his players' strengths. Neither Rodgers or Hagan are particularly overpowering as in-line blockers. But, they're both proven to be reliable receiving threats. Maximo Espita had previously been slated as the perfect H-back for Tedford's offense. He and Jacob Wark are known more as blockers who can also make catches. It'll be interesting to see how often they're used as inside receivers or as the up-backs in the Diamond/Big Bone(Grizzly!) formation.

With so many young players ahead of them on the depth chart, all of the incoming freshmen are likely to redshirt. Coleman is the speedster while Austin uses good routes and craftiness to get open. Ray Hudson is a dual-threat tight end who is powerfully-built, but had the receiving skills to be lined up outside in high school.

If I had to guess, Treggs, Harper, Rodgers, and Lawler will be the opening day starters. But with the breakneck pace of the Dykes/Franklin offense, expect to see plenty of players rotating in depending on down, distance, and match-ups.

This is one area where Cal fans should feel good. If the line holds and the quarterback can deliver it accurately, we've got more than enough ways to put together an explosive passing attack.

Quarterbacks Preview

Oline Preview

Wide Receivers Summary:

Position Coaches: Rob Likens (Outside Receivers), Mark Tommerdahl(Inside Receivers)

Probable Strengths:

Versatility. We have big guys, quick guys, and fast guys. Plenty of options to mix and match.

Talented Depth. The new uptempo attack needs more receivers in the playing rotation. We've got them.

Attitude. No prima donnas here. This group works hard and are willing downfield blockers.

Possible Weaknesses:

Inexperience. Despite the talent, it's still a young group without a lot of collective snaps under their belt.

Biggest Questions:

Will a reliable go-to option or options emerge for the red zone and on third down?

How will the ex-tight ends be utilized in the new Bear Raid?