For the first two years of the Sonny Dykes era, Cal's running game has lurked in the shadows cast by Jared Goff & Co. This coaching staff doesn't yet have its signature Jahvid Best or Marshawn Lynch (he wrote, foreshadowing something...). But could that all change this season? Can Tony Franklin and Brandon Jones channel their inner Ron Goulds? Maybe, just maybe.
The Veteran: #2 Daniel Lasco
Here's the total production for Cal's running backs in 2014:
It's now so well documented that the "anonymous" Lasco "quietly" racked up over 1000 yards last season that we should really give up this idea that he's going to sneak up on the Pac 12 in his senior season. The Bear is out of the bag: Lasco is a top-flight running back with the hands and the strength needed to support his quarterback in the short passing game. Don't forget, he owns the both the longest run (tied with Khalfani Muhammad) and longest reception on last year's stat sheet.
The Breakout: #23 Vic Enwere
Vic has been the name to know since spring camp, already threatening to steal more of the spotlight from Lasco. Listed as the biggest back on the team at 230 pounds, Enwere is going to bring the hurt once he starts getting more consistent playing time. We've already seen a bit of what he can do, namely breaking tackles and breaking off chunks of yardage as a true freshman. Everything suggests his time is coming soon, as he's been spending time with the twos in camp and making good impressions. It sounds like the he has some development left to do on his catching and pass protection, but his good impressions last year and in camp have earned him the chance to learn on the job.
The Changeup: #5 Tre Watson
Watson started to get his feet wet as a true freshman, getting a few touches from scrimmage and making use of his speed on kick returns. He might reappear on special teams this year, but expect to see more of him in the backfield (and hopefully getting the ball in space) as he climbs to third on the depth chart. The word from camp is that he looks quick on his feet, but he also gets mentioned alongside Enwere for his physicality despite being a solid 30 pounds lighter. The two sophomores should be fun to watch as they progress over the next few years.
The Speedster: #29 Khalfani Muhammad
After gradually losing playing time to Daniel Lasco and the younger backs, Muhammad sat out spring camp to focus on running with the track team. It remains to be seen how much playing time he'll see this season as he has dropped to fourth on the depth chart, but expect the junior to pick up where he left off as a blazing fast returner on kickoffs.
The Mystery: #22 Lonny Powell
I've already tipped my hand that Lonny Powell is the guy to watch, wherever he may play on the field. At the risk of contributing to the unfair expectations already piling on the true freshman, I'll reiterate that the words "Marshawn Lynch" and "Lonny Powell" have already been used in the same sentence. He's fast, he can catch, and he wants to hit somebody in the mouth. There's clearly plenty of talent ahead of him, but he'll find his way into some snaps sooner rather than later.
The Good JuJu: #20 Jeffrey Coprich
Coprich made a few appearances off the bench in 2013 as a redshirt freshman before missing last year with an injury. It's hard to say how much he'll be able to contribute as he attempts to come back among an already crowded depth chart, but it's worth pointing out a few nuggets from our practice notes:
Jeffery Coprich could be a man on the rise as well. He looks healthy and rejuvenated, able to make cuts left and right as well.
Coprich looks bulked up and more assertive, wouldn't be surprised to see him get some playing time
#20 Jeffrey "JuJu" Coprich showed a lot elusiveness as he exploded from his own 5 yardline for a 60 yard gain running past the secondary that struggled to get a good angle on him.
Juju Coprich shakes a defender badly. Defender actually hits the turf and Juju goes upfield for a 15/20 yard gain.
I'd say that the 2nd-best practice highlight was a 20-yard touchdown run by Coprich during 11s. Coprich had an earlier touchdown as well and continues to make some of the most impressive plays in fall camp.
Juju Coprich is by far the biggest surprise out of the RB group. He has been running with authority and force through the gaps and easily has had some of the outstanding runs.