Cal fans, do yourselves a favor and grab your rose-colored glasses before you read this post. Don't think about freak injuries, past years' results, or Cody Kesslers. Just take a moment to meet the young Golden Bears who could contribute this season, and imagine these guys tearing it up in the blue and gold. We already knew Cal football was going to be fun to watch this fall, but if even half of these guys can play to their potential, we're in for a treat. Only a few weeks now...
RB Lonny Powell #22
If you've kept up with Cal's running back situation, you know that there are more than a few guys that are going to be fun to watch this year. With Powell buried at fifth on the depth chart behind Lasco, Enewere, Watson, and Muhammad, it would be easy to write him off for this year. Now take a second, click this link, and watch Powell's tape.
Not so sure anymore, are you? The coaches will make sure this guy sees the field one way or another. They have to. Did I mention he plays linebacker too? His résumé is just a formality at this point, but he's a four star recruit out of Sacramento HS, and the recruiting services are using words like "physically dominant" and "Marshawn Lynch" to describe him. If that somehow isn't enough for you, check out the breakdown here and try not to hyperventilate.
WR Carlos Strickland #6
What do you do when you're a four star recruit, a consensus top 25 wide receiver in the 2015 class, a four year varsity player at Skyline HS in Texas, the recipient of 21 D1 offers, a Semper Fi All-American, the subject of a Daily Cal profile, and you still can't crack the depth chart at wide receiver? I don't know, but Carlos Strickland better figure it out soon. Strickland is already drawing comparisons to the current top guys, and he could #1 receiver in not too many years. For now though, he's a solid if not flashy player who will be fighting to find his way into the rotation in the near future.
WR Brandon Singleton #19
If it wasn't abundantly clear, there are a lot of names being floated at wide receiver. Don't expect too much of a dropoff when the NFL takes a few of our guys next year; the next generation will be ready to go. In the meantime, here's one more guy who could complicate things as soon as this season. Singleton wasn't quite as highly touted out of high school as the last two, coming in as a three star recruit, but he had a handful of good offers and earned some very kind words from Sonny Dykes:
"Brandon is tremendously fast and gives us the speed and big play ability that we need. He has great explosiveness and just eats up the cushion on defensive backs. He plays the ball very well when it's in the air. He is a very productive receiver that knows how to play the game. I think he has excellent potential and upside and is going to be a very productive receiver for us."
This kid is silly fast, and has been getting noticed by the coaches for exactly that reason. If they can find a way to get him on the field, expect that they will do so.
C Addison Ooms #57
Up until the end of July, there was no reason to think Ooms would see much playing time this fall. But with the surprise departure of Matt Cochran, the starting center job is suddenly a position of interest in fall camp. Since joining the Bears as a preferred walk-on from Mater Dei (where he protected our very own Chase Forrest), Ooms spent his redshirt year impressing the coaches and climbing up the depth chart. He was listed at starting center before camp, but Jordan Rigsbee appears to have something to say about that, having taken most of the first string snaps so far. Ooms' situation bears watching as this offensive line tries to settle its depth chart.
RG Semisi Uluave #58
The true freshman from Hawaii wasn't listed on the two-deep as of a few days ago, but apparently chaos reigns in Memorial Stadium as Uluave has already started taking reps with the first team at right guard. With Rigsbee doing his utility man thing at center, Uluave has a genuine chance to start right away. Boasting a four star ranking from Scout and 247Sports, he waited until signing day to commit to Cal and then until this summer to decide not to take his Mormon mission. The coaches will be glad to have him around too, as Uluave is a big dude (listed at 345 pounds) and is seen as a player with a lot of immediate upside.
RG Dominic Granado #55
Granado has waited a long time for his turn at Cal, and if practice reps are any indication, his time is about to come. The JuCo transfer from Golden West College was in on the competition at right tackle last year, but ended up redshirting. He's shared reps with Uluave so far in camp, and his name always seems to be coming up as one of the guys who should contribute this year. Granado is listed at 290 pounds, so he's quite a bit smaller than Uluave, but the fact that the coaches have moved him inside suggests that he has the versatility to earn playing time. He'll also get a look at long snapper.
DT James Looney #9
Cal's youth on defense the past two seasons means that this side of the ball actually carries quite a bit of experience into year three of the Sonny Dykes Show. There will still be plenty of new faces though, like this guy: James Looney was all set to be a starter at Wake Forest last year, but was lured away by the Golden Bears (and presumably the lack of In-n-Out in North Carolina). Having sat out last season under NCAA rules, Looney will make his Cal debut this season, starting at DT next to Mustafa Jalil. He has impressed the coaches, and gotten notice from our CGB scouts thus far at camp for his level of fitness and his comfort at the tackle position.
DE DeVante Wilson #95
DeVante Wilson will likely see snaps for Cal at defensive end, but it's been a long and convoluted path for him to get there. The former USC signee tore his ACL before he could play a down for the Trojans, and then transferred to Riverside Community College where he earned league honors in his sophomore year. Hoping to get back to the Pac 12, Wilson committed to Washington State for all of a week before flipping to the Bears. Aside from giving Sonny and Co all of the Trojans' and Cougars' secrets, Wilson should contribute as a strong pass rusher for a unit that underperformed in that category last year. The Bears hope that, as a JuCo transfer, he will be able to get adjusted quickly to Coach Kaufman's system.
CB Jaylinn Hawkins #20
Remember last year's secondary? Wouldn't it have been better with a speedy, physical, ballhawking freshman? Well, Jaylinn Hawkins is sorry he's late, but coaches expect him to make up for lost time by stealing every ball directed his way. Rob Hwang can confirm that the converted wide receiver has already been a force in fall camp, so watch out for #20 to challenge the established order at CB.
CB Malik Psalms #23
It may be hard to believe at this point in the list, but some of our freshman will actually redshirt this season. Will Malik Psalms join the waiting list for 2016? Not if he can help it. Coach Dykes praised the Rivals four star recruit for his athleticism and smarts, and he's got the height at 6'2". There's depth ahead of him, but he'll have a chance to impress new cornerbacks coach John Lovett in camp.
CB Antoine Albert #15
Another cornerback? Why not? The JuCo addition from Diablo Valley College earned All-American recognition there before jumping to the Bears for his junior season. He's already started to make appearances with the twos in fall camp, which has to give the coaches some confidence in the improvement of this unit since last year's campaign. Albert has to have an inside track on playing time as an early enrollee, but any of these three guys could break in, so make sure you have their numbers memorized.
S Derron Brown #4
Griffin Piatt and Stefan McClure are broken. Luke Rubenzer is playing safety, but that's clearly just some double-secret trickeration by Coach Franklin to keep Grambling State off guard. All that adds up to a serious cry for help in the secondary. Just in time, in steps Mesa CC transfer Derron Brown. The prognosticators didn't have a lot to say about him out of high school, a year of maturation and growth—he's listed at 6'1'' 200 lbs—could be just what he needed to reach Pac-12 caliber. I won't double Nam's efforts here but the upshot is that Brown is a speedy guy who appears to have the smarts for the job. His reps with the second string thus far would seem to confirm that, so we'll see if he fills in once Secret Agent Rubenzer is sent to his next assignment.
S Evan Rambo #24
That last link also contains a breakdown of Evan Rambo, true freshman cornerback and All-Name Team nominee along with Matt Rockett (who just happens to share number 24...hmm...). Rambo played the utility position at La Salle as a dual-threat quarterback and cornerback...and free safety...and kick returner. Maybe he could teach Agent Rubes a thing or two. In the meantime, he's getting reps with the third team, but his performance so far indicates that he could move up the depth chart quickly:
Notebook – Rambo’s Two Picks Gives Him Four In Three Days http://t.co/TYAe2ghCia #GoBears #CampLife pic.twitter.com/xcv7OZNtCy— Cal Football (@CalFootball) August 10, 2015
Check out the acrobatic diving pic today by @BoKnows96 #GoBears #CampLife pic.twitter.com/2mikGeEAPP— Cal Football (@CalFootball) August 10, 2015
Honorable Mention: QB Chase Forrest #14
Forrest is playing well in camp. Goff, however, is playing out of his head and will not relinquish the starting job for any reason. It just seemed appropriate to include our second stringer as a possible contributor in order to appease the football gods. They're real, you know. Anyway, you can thank me later.