Tedford excited by Rodgers' development

Richard Rodgers' credentials as a high school receiver make him an intriguing option for Golden Bears at tight end.

BERKELEY, Calif. – Glowing praise or major predictions don't seem to be California head coach Jeff Tedford's style, but his consistently upbeat tone about tight end Richard Rodgers has drawn notice.

Tedford went one step further Tuesday, saying of Rodgers, "He'll be a force I think for us on offense."

Not bad for a guy that never played the position in high school.

"It's pretty exciting," said Rodgers when asked about Tedford's declaration. "Whenever someone says that, it gets you excited."

Then again, considering the other options currently available at wide receiver, it's not hard to see Rodgers emerging as a reliable outlet for quarterback Zach Maynard.

The Golden Bears' top three wideouts this spring – Maurice Harris, Ryan Bostock and Jackson Bouza – have combined for three career receptions and 32 yards, all by Bouza last season.

Obviously the return of All-America candidate Keenan Allen from injury will dramatically change those numbers, but the junior will be facing defenses dedicated to shutting him down. Until someone else emerges, be it a player already on the roster or one of the freshmen set to arrive on campus this summer, Rodgers could be that second option.

It would be a reversal from last season, when the tight end was minimized as Allen, Marvin Jones and Michael Calvin accounted for 73 percent of the team's receptions and 10 of 17 touchdown passes.

"We're definitely getting the ball to the tight ends more," Rodgers said. "We just had a lot of playmakers on the outside, Marvin, Keenan and Mike. You can't get everyone the ball."

While Rodgers has never caught a pass in college, his credentials as a receiver look quite solid. He played wide receiver at Worcester (Mass.) St. John's, recording 114 grabs for 1,864 yards and 36 touchdowns in his final two seasons.

It has been adjusting to everything else required of the position that has been the focus this spring, notably blocking.

"It's totally different," said Rodgers of the difference between blocking as a receiver and tight end. "I think I have done a good job in progressing. I still have a lot of room to grow with my blocking."

Part of that adjustment has been adding weight to handle defensive end. Rodgers arrived on campus at 230 pounds, but is now up to 265 without sacrificing any of his speed.

He is also coming to terms with the physical demands of the position, suffering a shoulder injury that has required the use of a sling to avoid aggravating it further.

And while Tedford likes Rodgers' development as a blocker, his comments clearly allude to how he will be used, part of the new crop of tight ends capable of creating mismatches all over the field.

"You can do a lot of things with him, align in a lot of different places," Tedford said.

But taking a page from his coach, Rodgers refuses to go overboard or even put a grade on his performance.

"I wouldn't even grade my spring," he said. "I don't know. I don't really have a grade for myself.


Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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