Sonny and company put together a very solid class of recruits this spring, filling multiple holes in depth, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Everyone of those guys will be needed to fill a defense that reenacted Sherman's March through the South in the role of the South. The remainder of the recruiting class focused on filling the future of the Bear Raid. Ross Bowers and Lonny Powell have already made an impact, enrolling early and playing a part in spring ball. The surprise of the class though was the commitment of a punter, Dylan Klumph. Klumph is a JC transfer out of Golden State College, who committed less than a week before signing day. Though "King" Cole Leininger has been entrenched as the starting punter since he came in, Klumph will be in the mix to start.
Punters are People Too
Klumph is listed at 6'3" and 220 lbs, which puts him in a similar size category as Bryan Anger. Leininger hasn't been able to replace Anger to the extent that the coaching staff has hoped, and Special Teams Coordinator Mark Tommerdahl hasn't been afraid to pull him when he's performing poorly (after the Agholor debacle of 2013). Klumph may be the guy to unseat Leininger if the coaching staff isn't pleased with his development.
The big thing about punters and their performance is hangtime, which gives the gunners and the rest of the coverage team ample time to get to the returner. There's only one punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that's Ray Guy. He was inducted on his hangtime, not his 42.4 yards per punt that Andy Lee beats every year. Klumph gets some decent distance in his reel, but his hangtime allows for the coverage team to do their thing and down his punts without a return. He also has some directional skills, which made the coverage team's job even easier.
An intriguing part of Klumph coming in is his ability in the kickoff game. For the clips shown, Klumph has the ability to kick it out of the endzone. For as long as I've been going to Cal games, I can never remember having a guy who could consistently rack up the touchbacks. If Klumph doesn't supplant Leininger in the punting game, then he could potentially be the man for kickoffs.
April Showers Bring September Bowers
Ross Bowers became the latest Cal quarterback to come into school early, following the tradition started by Zach Kline in 2012. Bowers comes to Cal from Washington, where he led Bothell High to a state title. He also did this during the state title game.
Bowers definitely has the athleticism to play QB in the Tony Franklin system. Though he didn't get too many snaps during spring practice, Bowers definitely has the strength and accuracy to be effective. He's already more accurate than Zach Maynard. The only issue for Bowers is when he will be able to take up the Bear Raid's helm.
Barring catastrophe and Kevin Bacon levels of panic, Goff is going to play the entirety of the 2015 season (and lead us to the promised land of Roses and Axes and Heismans). If Jared decides to leave before the 2016 season, which the smart money seems to be on, that leaves a wide open competition for the quarterback spot. Even if Luke Rubenzer stays at the safety spot and only comes over on offense to fulfill his role as Tebow-lite, then there are still four options at the QB spot for 2016. Chase Forrest was impressive this spring, getting a bunch of opportunities to work with our talented WR core. Armani Rodgers and Max Gilliam are both coming in with the 2016, clouding the predictive waters even more. Bowers does seem like the uber-competitive sort, judging by his suicide dive into the end zone in the play above. Let's just say he's much better than the Rosencopter.
The Powell of the People
Last but not least, we come to Lonny Powell. A running back out of Sacramento High, he has evoked comparisons to Marshawn Lynch. Powell does play a bit like the former Bear, relishing the opportunity to make contact with the defender who stands in his way.
Powell will have a difficult time crashing the RB rotation for this season, as there are four running backs that have established themselves as worthy of playing time. Daniel Lasco broke out last year and remains the lead back. Khalfani Muhammad has been doing an excellent job on the track, and he'll be back in full force at fall camp. Vic Enwere has been a revelation this spring, setting a mold for what we can expect from Powell. Tre Waton will also get his fair share of carries, being another speed guy like Muhammad. Powell may sit out and redshirt, and unleash holy hell on the scout team in the fall like Lasco did his true freshman year (I can vouch for this, I was there).
When 2016 rolls around, we will definitely see more Powell. With Lasco leaving, carries will open up, and Powell is far too talented to not play. Another intriguing place for Powell may be at the linebacker spot. His HS tape is similar to that of Devante Downs, who is extremely explosive at the linebacker position. Unluckily for Powell, both of his positions are some of the deepest on the team. He will play in 2016, and will make a large impact, it just may not be as immediate as many have hoped.