READ MORE: In-Depth Notes from Day One
BERKELEY -- California sophomore quarterback Jared Goff said before fall camp started that his stable of wide receivers could be the best in the nation. After watching Chris Harper and Trevor Davis shred up the Memorial Stadium turf on Monday afternoon, it’s hard to argue.
Both seemed to have gotten faster and quicker off the line since last year, and Davis – in his first year of eligibility after transferring from Hawaii – was easily the star of the day, with several acrobatic grabs.
“I’ll recover tonight, and then keep bringing it,” said Davis, before admitting that he was starting to feel the two and a half hours of practice already. “We’ve been doing a lot of running, and even the strength coaches said that we were way different, as a team, when it comes to endurance and speed, right now.”
Davis confessed to a bit of adrenaline fueling some of his circus catches, many of which were presaged by some nifty jitterbugging footwork during one-on-ones against defensive backs.
“I had a lot of adrenaline,” Davis said. “It’s exciting. It’s actually official, now. Spring was official to, but it’s getting close to that final day.”
The most entertaining one-on-one match-up of the day was easily Davis against Cedric Dozier, and Davis said that was his favorite opponent.
“We make each other better,” Davis smiled.
Cal will have its first day of pads on Friday.
Everyone else got to go out to play at recess, except for poor Jordan Rigsbee. The presumptive starting right tackle was, as he put it, had to watch the rest of the kids have fun, as he represented the single injury holdover from spring ball, when he tore his meniscus in his knee.
“It’s a bummer,” Rigsbee said. “That’s what I live on. I love going crazy and hitting people. When everyone else gets to do it, you feel like a kid who can’t play dodge ball at P.E., so it’s kind of brutal.”
That said, Rigsbee is one week ahead of schedule in his rehab, and has targeted August 11 as the day when he wants to be able to go full-speed.
“I’m only maybe a week, two weeks away,” Rigsbee said. “I’m still planning on playing Northwestern. It’s rough. The first day, everyone’s all excited and it’s a fun deal, and I’m over here just doing the hardest rehab of my life with coach [Mike] Blasquez, who’s really working with me. Him and coach Damon [Harrington] are really getting me right. You’ve got to be patient. If you try to rush back into it, that’s how you get hurt more, and then you miss the whole season.”
The rest of the Bears, though? Stronger, much faster, and very much healthy … that was, until cornerback Darius White went down with a jammed left shoulder while breaking up a pass in 11-on-11 work.
“I don’t think it’s anything too serious,” Dykes said. “I think he’s going to be sore for a couple of days. I would anticipate seeing him back pretty quickly.”
White was making quite the case for himself before he went down, but Cameron Walker and A.J. Greathouse made the biggest impacts in the secondary, with the former safety Walker breaking up two passes in 11-on-11 and Greathouse coming up with three.
“I thought [Greathouse] did some good things,” Dykes said of the late pickup. “He’s very athletic. He’s got some length. You can see, physically, he’s pretty well put-together. He has a really bright future. He was a little bit lost today, because he hadn’t been here much this summer. He was getting some things cleared up late, but he showed some athleticism today and a willingness to compete. It looked to me like he might have a chance to be a player.”
Dykes announced several roster notes after practice. Safety Damariay Drew is “indefinitely suspended,” and his inclusion on the printed roster was in error.
Linebacker Maximo Espitia is suspended for a year for “a violation of team rules.”
“It’s pretty serious,” Dykes said. “We’ll see how it plays out. He’s going to have some pretty serious things he’s going to need to work through, in terms of punishment and things on our end.”
Offensive tackle Christian Okafor is taking a medical hardship, and is no longer with the team, though he is in school, and on scholarship. His scholarship does not count against the Bears’ count of 85.
Defensive back Vachel Samuels is “not with [Cal] anymore,” and neither is receiver James Grisom.
“[Grisom] left on great terms, he’s a great kid, we like him, but he had some financial considerations,” Dykes said.
College of San Mateo linebacker transfer Jake Kearney should be in camp “within the next two or three days,” Dykes said.
On their second play from scrimmage, defensive linemen Brennan Scarlett and Mustafa Jalil exploded through the first-team offensive line and teamed up for a sack on Goff, and Jalil looked strong and stable on his repaired knee all day.
The Terrible Two are most certainly back, though Jalil was pulled back late in practice to limit the wear and tear on his knee.
“I think Moose did some good things today,” Dykes said. “The guys, to me, that I thought really looked good, I thought Jared Goff looked really good. I thought it was a really good starting point for him. I thought both freshman quarterbacks looked way ahead of schedule. I was really happy to see that. I thought Michael Lowe had a really good day. I think he’s lighter than he has been, he’s moving around better and he’s really worked hard over the summer. He’s got a great attitude.”
Defensive line coach Fred Tate was pleased with the effort up front on multiple occasions, including several nice reps from Austin Clark and Tony Mekari. Tate told the defensive line: “I don’t coach slow, so you have to play fast,” during positional work, and the players followed suit on the field, keeping with the theme of overall increased team speed.
While Rigsbee continued his rehab, Dominic Granado took first-team reps at right tackle, with Matt Cochran getting a look during 11-on-11s there, as well.
“The little bit I saw and noticed, I thought he did fine,” Dykes said. “The right tackle position, we’re pretty well settled-in everywhere else. Matt Cochran’s going to get a look out there. When Rigsbee starts participating fully, he’ll get a look. Hopefully somebody will rise into that position and be a player.”
Dykes said that Rigsbee could “potentially” be the guy there, but the redshirt junior admits, he hasn’t played tackle before, but he’ll give it the old college try.
“I have never played tackle before, and, to be honest, I don’t know what position I’m going to play,” Rigsbee said. “I could end up at center, so I don’t know. My plan right now is just getting my meniscus better and getting in shape to play football. Whenever they put me in, I’ll be ready.”
Rigsbee’s first position last year – left guard – was ably manned by sophomore Chris Borrayo, who has improved since last season, showing off his trademark toughness and grit, while maintaining very good pad level, locking out hard and maintaining control of his defensive linemen.
“We just want to figure out who the best five are,” Dykes said. “If Granado’s better, he’ll be in the mix. Jordan’s kind of been a guy that could swing and play a lot of different positions, he proved last year. Obviously, I think the best thing for us is for him to be a starting tackle, because he’s got experience. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Behind the offensive line, the run game had plenty of spark, with Doak Walker Award Watch List member Daniel Lasco hitting the hole hard and showing off his soft hands while catching the ball out of the backfield. One ball he caught during 11-on-11 he took for a little ride around two defenders, weaving between two defensive backs to get up field. Then, he did it again.
In the final session of 11-on-11s, sophomore running back Khalfani Muhammad looked like he was shot out of a cannon on two straight reps, drawing ooh’s and aah’s from the sidelines. Like Harper and Davis, Muhammad looked to have gotten even faster, as well.
Freshman Tre Watson showed that he’s a slippery character in the second level, but there was only so much to be gleaned from no-pads practice. When he has pads on, and can’t just be tagged down, then we’ll see how slithery he really can be.
“I thought Tre looked smooth, looked comfortable,” Dykes said. “He looked like what we saw as a high school player, a guy who’s going to be a very consistent back that sees things and can make decisions and make things happen with the ball.”
Freshman Vic Enwere had some good, had some bad, and a little of both. He runs like a bull, with low pad level, powerful steps and a bit of a cavalier attitude. That allows him to really hit holes hard and explode out of the line, but just as often, he was out over his skis, running into offensive linemen and on three occasions, tripping over his own feet.
“I thought they were a little rough at times,” Dykes said of the freshman running backs. “Vic, I thought, ran powerful, when he had the ball, and it’s tough when you don’t really have pads on and you’re a big back. You’re not going to look great sometimes.”
Goff showed off much improved deep ball accuracy and mid-range zip on Monday, and he said that he’s been consciously working on upping his arm strength. Goff looked off defensive backs, was able to get several defenders to bite on pump and shoulder fakes and delivered balls on-time.
“Just his accuracy, I thought, was good,” Dykes said. “His arm had a lot of pop. He was very accurate, particularly his midrange accuracy. I think he’s improving on that. I though this timing was much cleaner. The ball got out sooner. I thought he was comfortable moving in and out of the pocket. It just seemed like he progressed through his reads more quickly than he had in the past. All the stuff that you want a quarterback to do, he showed that he really improved today.”
One of Goff’s favorite targets on the day was Stephen Anderson, who appears to have a stranglehold on the Y-receiver position. None of his catches were true highlight-reel material, but when taken as a body of work, he showed superb body control, plus ball skills and nimble hands.
Fullback Lucus Gingold and inside receiver Bryce McGovern were both awarded scholarships on Monday.
Linebacker Nathan Broussard showed no ill effects of offseason ACL surgery, and said that Monday was the first day his left knee felt “100 percent, just like my right knee.”
Defensive lineman Sione Sina was unencumbered, as well, and looked to have added some significant muscle.
While Hardy Nickerson, Jr., did not play in full 11-on-11, he moved around well and didn’t show any ill effects from his lisfranc injury that shortened his 2013 season.
Chase Forrest and Luke Rubenzer both showed off their mobility, both escaping heavy pressure during their 11-on-11 work. Rubenzer took the lion’s share of second-team reps, but Forrest looked like he belonged in the conversation for backup quarterback.
“If they continue to perform like they did today, they’re going to be hard to count either one of them out,” Dykes said. “I thought they both looked very good today, at times. Both showed a lot of poise, both knew what to do with the ball, and you can tell that they’ve spent a lot of time learning our offense and have had a good summer, in terms of working out. I was really pleasantly surprised with both of them.”
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