GOFF: Big League Calm

Freshman quarterback Jared Goff's big league father bequeathed not just height, but a sense of calm and level-headedness that helped him win the starting job.

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BERKELEY -- Vulcans show more emotion than Jared Goff.

For the first time since 1999, the California football team will start a true freshman quarterback. It's him. What's his response?

"I was really excited," he deadpans. "When they told me, I was very honored and excited about getting the chance to play for Cal. It's been my dream for a while."

It almost sounds like he's reading a teleprompter, but these aren't scripted lines. He's not as rah-rah as his closest competitor -- Zach Kline. He's not as flashy, nor as verbose, but he talks like he plays: Thoughtfully, and concisely. His first day as the starter was the same as his first day of fall camp.

"It felt the same," says Goff. "It was the same practice, the same thing."

Sophomore receiver Bryce Treggs said after practice that Goff doesn't just play older than he is.

"It doesn't even seem like he's a freshman," says Treggs. "It seems like he's in me and Chris [Harper]'s class. He plays like he's very mature, and I think he'll maintain in every game that he plays."

Time was "of the essence," said head coach Sonny Dykes, and with two weeks left until the Bears host the top-25 Wildcats – coming off of a 10-win season -- Goff simply says, "it's coming up."

"We have time to prepare," says Goff. "We'll be good to go."

What about the 60,000 fans and the national primetime audience?

"I don't even think about that stuff," he says. "You've just got to go out there and play football."

Goff was raised by a former Major League catcher. Former Cal infielder Jerry Goff -- now a firefighter (and one who looks like he could still play big league ball, at that) – spent parts of six seasons in the Majors. He's been under the bright lights. He's heard 50,000-plus screaming fans. It's no wonder that his son is as unflappable as he is.

"I think that's a big thing," Goff says of his father's experience in the big leagues. "When I was younger, he always raised me to just play the game and have fun. I always talk to him before every game, and the last thing he says is, ‘Have fun.' That's what I try to do: Have fun, do my job and just play football."

When he's asked about his weight – or lack thereof, at about 195 pounds – Goff says he's been trying to put on weight for the past four years. As he's told BearTerritory before, he was blessed with his father's height, but regrettably, his mother's metabolism.

Reminded of that, he smirks and chuckles, just barely. Finally, a crack in the wall.

Goff and his father are as close as a father and son can be. Jerry made a point never to push Jared into baseball, though Jared naturally gravitated towards the diamond a bit, playing shortstop on a perennial state title contender at Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic. From an early age, though, Jerry knew that his boy was going to be a quarterback, and he was just fine with that.

Now, he's at nearly every fall practice. Except for Friday. He was on-call, starting Thursday night. When Jared found out he was going to be the starter, the first call he made was to his dad, who actually played a bit of football as a senior, being called upon as a punter.

"He didn't answer," smiles Goff, who didn't leave a message. He just sent a text. "He was on a call. As soon as he got back, he called me, and then we talked.

"He was excited. He said he got back and his phone had a million text messages and he knew, right then, and he called me."

"The guys respect him," Dykes says. "They respect his ability, they respect his work ethic. They respect his confidence."

While Goff may be mentally and emotionally ready to take the snaps on Aug. 31, Dykes was honest about the implications of starting a true freshman.

"The good thing is, we don't have to play today," Dykes chuckled. "Rating him in terms of game-readiness, it would not be very good, as of today, so that's going to be our job for the next two weeks: To get him game-ready. That'll be a process and something that we go through, but from a potential standpoint, the kid's got tremendous potential."

Over the next two weeks, Goff and his receivers will endeavor to unlock that potential, and Treggs, for one, is glad that time has come.

"It was actually later than what we thought. We thought it was going to happen earlier in camp, but those guys were head-and-head throughout the majority of camp, so it was good to finally have a starter," he says. "It's a big relief off my shoulders, because now I just get to focus on the season and get chemistry with Jared Goff. He's a great quarterback and a great person, and I think he has the leadership skills to lead us to the championship, and that's our ultimate goal."

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