California Golden Bears center Michael Saffell has already made a name for himself in the Cal circles. And now, he’s starting to catch the eye of several public draft pundits across the country.
One of the potential big areas of concern with Saffell heading into the 2020 season was the shift under Bill Musgraves’ new offensive system. Remember, I wrote this earlier this year:
Saffell is every bit of another All-Conference player at his position but expectations need to be tempered a bit as the team adjusts to life more under center in offensive coordinator Bill Musgraves’ new system. As athletic as he is, Saffell will have to adjust his range of movement and speed off the snap with the quarterback under him but if his proven track record is any indication, he’ll adjust nicely and be a solid centerpiece to the Golden Bears’ offensive line in 2020.
Well, that looked to be something he thought of too, and he’s now taken to working with former NFL All-Pro center Jesse Sapolu. He also spent time at the OL Masterminds clinic this year as well.
Sapolu, now with the San Francisco 49ers, was featured by Duke Manyweather, giving us a brief insight into his genius football mind.
.@49ers @NFLLegends Jesse Sapolu @jessesapolu discussing how the implementation of aggressive sets to his toolbox became an equalizer against longer defenders like Leon Lett, based on keys he picked up studying film.#StrikeLeverageDriveFinish™️#OLMasterminds™️— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) July 28, 2020
-Get After It pic.twitter.com/jlhL4LAbyH
Saffell was also out improving strength, hand placement and core balance as well, working with 5AS1 OL Training.
Got a TON of great work today! were on and the antibacterial soap & wipes were a flowin.— 5AS1 OL Training (@5AS1OL) July 25, 2020
Here’s just a few of the clips from today’s afternoon session!
Make sure to follow us on IG & FB for extended versions of our session highlight vids and more!#5AS1 pic.twitter.com/CVGMHE6Atc
@themikesaffell exploring some movement the other day while actively maintaining a neutral spine.— 5AS1 OL Training (@5AS1OL) July 24, 2020
Movement courtesy of two of our good friends @USAFootballMT & @OLPMedia #5AS1 pic.twitter.com/HcjBOLDilU
Those brief, but telling, movement videos this offseason showcase that he is indeed working towards adjusting to his life with Chase Garbers more under center this year. We know how fast he is and we know how quickly he can get off, these movement drills will only help him translate that to on-field success in every aspect it seems.
Friend of CGB and SB Nation as a whole, Ben Fennell who covers the NFL draft for NFL Network as well as covering the Eagles and Packers with the AP and The Athletic, recently took time to watch film from 2019, specifically watching Saffell.
Cal Michael Saffell— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) July 27, 2020
Senior 6'2 290
19 Starts (11 - OC, 8 - RG)
Initial Quickness ++
Good tape in 2019 vs Ole Miss NT Benito Jones at 329lbs
Works privately with former 49ers All-Pro center Jesse Sapolu. Reminds me a bit of Ryan Kalil.
That good tape against Benito Jones does bring up memories. As does his game against USC a season ago. He more than holds his own in pass protection and his quick get off that is clearly turning heads in the run game are only going to see him receive praise even more.
As we inch towards a college football season in some fashion, it’s safe to assume we’ll see and hear a lot more about Saffell from nationwide draft pundits.
And that’s good for him. And good for Cal.