IN-DEPTH: Boehm Goes the Dynamite
BERKELEY -- When he went home for winter break this past December, California redshirt junior Kyle Boehm knew that the Bears would need more arms in the spring, what with starter Jared Goff coming off shoulder surgery and the transfer of redshirt freshman Zach Kline.
He resolved to march himself into offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's office and say that he wanted to switch back from inside receiver to the position at which he was recruited – quarterback.
Franklin beat him to it.
"They came back after their recruiting trips, and pulled me aside and told me. All over Christmas break, I was thinking about going up to them and asking them, and I didn't even have to. He approached me, and he wanted me to make the switch. It was a dream come true for me," Boehm says. "The first day they came back from recruiting, after we got back from Christmas break, he told me. I was so juiced. I was so happy. I called my parents and told my friends right away."
But, he didn't call his tailor, or the Cal equipment manger, at least. He's still keeping his inside-receiver No. 17 jersey.
"I just like it. I feel like it fits well," says Boehm. "My coach in high school was No. 17, and I'm not going to take Chris Harper's number. I can't steal his number from him."
Through the first eight practices of spring, though, Boehm has done quite a bit more than Harper, who's still on the mend from offseason shoulder surgery. Boehm – who was the odd man out a year ago, when he was competing with Goff, Kline and now-redshirt senior Austin Hinder. Boehm was told early on that he was out of the competition, hence the switch to inside receiver. But, now, he's taken secure hold on the reins of the second-team offense, particularly over the last two practices.
"We have a lot of on-field promotions," says Franklin. "One guy goes, another guy comes and you see what happens. Right now he's deserved to be the second guy going in, and hopefully, he'll compete with Jared. Nobody has a spot out here that's secure.
"He deserved it. He's done a better job than all the other backups. It's like I told him: I love it when guys show up that I wasn't counting on. I wasn't counting on him. We just put him in to have an extra arm to be able to do drills and stuff. He started doing some good stuff, and obviously, he can run the ball a little bit."
Boehm has been a bit rough around the edges, and for every long bomb he tosses, there are other short passes that fall into the turf or bounce their way to receivers.
"I'm definitely a little rusty, for sure," he laughs. "I haven't played quarterback for a year, so just getting back in the swing of things, I'm a little rusty, but that'll come with practice and more reps."
Playing quarterback, it seems, isn't just like riding a bike.
"Touch, definitely," Boehm answers when asked what the hardest thing to get back is. "I feel like my mechanics are kind of off. I feel like my release is a little bit different every time. I'm focusing so much on my footwork. If you don't have good feet, then it doesn't matter. The ball's going to be horrible. I'm trying to focus on every play, making sure my feet are good, and the rest will take care of itself."
Boehm came in to Cal as primarily a running quarterback, and he's been displaying his knack for the ground game quite a bit, as of late. On Saturday, Boehm tore off a rumbling 50-yard run on a read option play, where he took off, hit the corner and out-ran the entire defense on his way to the end zone, finishing off with a stiff arm to linebacker Michael Barton.
"I was pretty tired after that," Boehm laughs. "It's a power left for me, and I'm reading the defensive end, so the D-end goes up the field, I pull it, and then the hole was just so wide open. The O-line did a great job, making all their blocks. They made the read easy for me."
Franklin just hopes that that run is a sign of things to come.
"I liked that. I love that part of an offense, where you've got a quarterback who can run. It makes play calling a lot easier," he says. "Shoot, if he can get to where he can throw consistently, it would be fun to have that. I hope he just keeps getting better."
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