One of the big standouts of Wednesday’s spring practice -- California’s second session on the field -- was redshirt freshman wide receiver Kenny Lawler. Lawler hauled in middle screens of 20 and 40 yards from true freshman quarterback Jared Goff -- reaching paydirt each time -- during team sessions of practice, and showed off a smooth stride and sticky hands.
“From a receiver’s perspective, this offense is like dying and going to heaven,” Lawler said.
Lawler and many other Bears have made great strides in their overall strength and fitness, with Lawler and other receivers like Joel Willis looking to have gained muscle and power.
“Man, [strength coach Mike] Blasquez puts us through some intense, intense workouts,” Lawler laughed. “Overall, I think it really helped get out bodies ready for the contact that we’re going to be taking.”
Lawler looks to be posed for a breakout season as an outside wide receiver, after sitting out and taking a redshirt last season. Initially, Lawler was disappointed he would be taking a redshirt, but now, looking back, he realizes it was the right thing to do.
“At first, I didn’t want to redshirt, but it really helps with letting your body develop,” Lawler said. “Coming from high school, going to college, it’s a big transition, but I think it helped ... You put in a lot of mental work, because when you’re on the scout team, you’re watching the ones or twos, so you’ve got to get those mental reps. Seeing what they did wrong, trying to get better, a lot of the game is mental, so getting mental reps is what it’s all about.”
While on the bench, Lawler got to learn from his fellow 2012 signees, including Bryce Treggs and Darius Powe -- both of whom had several nice grabs on the day.
“I learned a lot, because they actually know what the game is like,” Lawler said. “Talking to them, seeing how it is, it gets me ready. It lets me know what I have to expect.”
Lawler has taken quite nicely to his new coach, Rob Likens, who takes an approach to teaching that is 180 degrees from the quiet, reserved technician, Wes Chandler.
“Coach Likens, he’s a good dude,” Lawler said. “I love the dude. Coach Likens is a great guy. He’s a motivational type of guy, and I like how he teaches. He’s very energetic, and that’s what I like. He tries to beat us to drills, sometimes.”
The new staff, like Likens, is a high-energy bunch, running practice at breakneck speed from start to finish, to the point where one signee in attendance -- tight end/inside receiver Ray Hudson -- said he was getting tired just watching.
“Coming from last year, everything was set, like, you’ve got to go be here and there,” Lawler said. “I think this is good. It gives us our freedom. It’s not that unorganized, but it appears to be that it’s very unorganized. It’s not really, though. We know where to go. We just have to get there fast.”