The fight is for the future of the Cal offense.
The candidates? Four: Luke Rubenzer, Chase Forrest, Ross Bowers, and the freshly committed Armani Rogers.
Now, before watching this tape, I made a conscious effort not to get too hyped up by everyone's reactions -- I heard "young Cam Newton" thrown around once or twice, even, so it was important to approach this rationally. This is my normal process, really -- Jamie Uyeyama and Marc Tausend are the other major guys who do Cal scouting in-depth, and while I talk to them all the time, I try to isolate myself to come up with my own observations first, before reading anything of theirs.
Plus, the last time I became really hyped about a quarterback, he transferred, so you can see my hesitation.
Then came the first play on this tape, which made my jaw drop immediately and my pleas for caution evaporate.
- 0:00 - Armani Rogers takes a three step drop and flings up one of the most beautiful fades I've ever seen in my life. That's not even much of an exaggeration, because it's both touch heavy and zips through the air. Not the only throw of this kind on the tape, either. He's got a great, great touch. The fade is a very advanced level throw, along with the deep out for me in terms of telling about a guy's skill set. Almost everyone on tapes will hit slants, screens, dumpoffs.
- 1:18; 1:46, 4:35, etc - Smooth and easy thrower, too -- the ball has low arc, just pops out of his hand and re-appears at point B. Seriously, look at it. Really just gets it out on time and in rhythm.
- However, at several different points, his mechanics start to look at little strange -- I can't pinpoint exactly what it is at my scouting skill level, but for example, check out 1:27, when the arm placement is just slightly different. (Jamie Uyeyama has said this is him dropping his elbow at times.) Nothing to get too concerned about, I think, but it's something that I thought was odd. I have a very similar theory when it comes to judging rappers' flows -- if I noticed it, then something happened, and it's likely bad. Otherwise, it should fade right into the background.
- 6'5 is a fantastic height for a quarterback, since it allows for clear vision over offensive linemen and better views of throwing lanes, so he's already got that going out for him. I don't know how much weight Rogers' frame can support, but the target should be for another 20 pounds at some point, pushing him up to 220 (RG3, Mariota sized) at the minimum. Cam Newton's in the 250 range, and I can see a little of both Newton and Mariota in his open-field striding.
- Odds point to one of the other three guys winning decisively -- in 2016 Rubenzer will be a junior, Forrest will be a redshirt soph, and Bowers a redshirt freshman -- so barring some sort of huge surprise, Rogers should be able to redshirt as he comes in. That would be fantastic.
- No word yet on if he's bringing his best friend, Gucci Sampson.
- The previous note is a joke. There is not, at least to my knowledge, any Gucci Sampson.
- From Luke's usage this season, it's very clear that Tony Franklin is ready for a mobile quarterback...but whereas Rubenzer's plays were almost entirely of the keeper variety, Armani Rogers shows some familiarity with the more Auburn/Oregon styled packages -- the zone read, the speed option, so on and so forth. Trying not to get tooooooo excited about this development.
- As mentioned before, the Bear Raid doesn't require a quarterback capable of running, but it needs a run threat of some sort, whether that's from the backfield or otherwise. Rob Likens gave an interview at Kansas essentially saying that the worse of a runner the QB is, the more accurate and quick he must be getting the ball out. Each of the post Goff guys has more mobility than the current Bear Raid Commander...so we might be getting Bear Raid 3.0 once #16 is gone.
- In sum: ideal size to build off of, powerful touch thrower who needs further polish with his mechanics. Very good in the open field too. Promising, high ceiling prospect. I'll be watching again for his development come fall and through the spring/summer camp circuit, so be prepared for a re-scout after the tape is done on him.
In which we look at Marquel Dismuke
Three immediate points to make about Dismuke:
One: the position of need. The field is wide open in 2016, when Stefan McClure graduates and leaves mostly converted talent (Trey Turner, Billy McCrary, Patrick Worstell), a JUCO transfer (Derron Brown), walkons (Griffin Piatt, David Garner), and the unproven (Quentin Tartabull, Evan Rambo). At 6'1, 180 pound Dismuke should hit campus at bigger than that, and having played the position in HS, has a chance to pass some of these guys immediately.
Two: the fact that we have repeatedly failed to bring in highly rated and natural -- read: unconverted -- safeties at all, and that Dismuke may finally, finally be breaking this trend. Fingers crossed that this doesn't end up being a Koa Farmer type situation, but all indications are that Dismuke is locking down with the Bears. (Thanks to Greg Biggins at Scout for the interview!)
"I actually wanted to commit a year ago," Dismuke said. "I've been wanting to go to Cal for that long, ever since I visited last year with Team 19. I love that place, I love the school, the city of Berkeley, the coaching staff and everything about the school.
"My commitment is solid though. I've liked Cal for a long time, this wasn't a spur of the moment decision for me. Like I said, I wanted to commit last summer and then again during my junior season. I decided to hold off but I was ready to do it now. It feels great to have the decision behind me and I know I made the best decision for me."
Three: Michigan offered Dismuke about three weeks ago, so suck it, Harbaugh, you noted evaluator and developer of talent.
Now, to the tape, which is from his time at Dominguez. Dismuke transferred to Calabasas for the 2015 season.
There isn't a ton of film on him, being only three minutes long, but the general trends are good: a big contact seeker with some decent closing speed and pursuit. Unfortunately, there isn't enough to judge if he can play the ball in the air enough to eventually translate over at free, or in the pass game much.
Dismuke doesn't exactly pop off this highlight reel all that often, and not too many of the plays will make you gape, but this is not cause for alarm for me just yet. Safeties and DBs in general are hard to scout in film, since the angles are limited, and there's also a lesson I learned last year with a few of the players: sometimes it's worth going back to look at a guy's senior year, because they really end up developing as athletes. The aforementioned Psalms, for example, is one of them -- I was lukewarm on him until I saw how athletic and explosive he got over the summer.
Also, we won't, in all likelihood, see Marquel Dismuke actually punt return -- my money's on Kanawai Noa -- but there's a plus for playing special teams. Gives you an idea of the kind of athlete we're getting.