BERKELEY -- Even without Chris Harper -- who’s trying his luck in the NFL Draft – the California wide receiver corps still is, according to quarterback Jared Goff, the best in the Pac-12, if not one of the best in the nation.
After the first day of spring camp, it’s hard to argue. The starting group of Stephen Anderson, Kenny Lawler, Bryce Treggs and Trevor Davis is quicker, faster and crisper than at the end of last season, and though there were some drops and some misthrows on the part of Goff and backups Ross Bowers and Chase Forrest, it’s abundantly clear early on that this unit is not going to miss a beat.
“I think the all got stronger and faster, all of them,” Goff said. “We all have that same camaraderie from last year, and it built so much over the offseason, and today was good. I was happy with what they did. There was rust, there was dropped balls, there were overthrown balls, and there was a lot of stuff like that, but you expect that on the first day. As far as effort and route-running, it was all good.”
Chad Hansen caught upwards of five balls during team work against defense, and was impressive in one-on-ones.
“His 40 time was impressive,” Goff said. “He ran pretty fast. He’s a good receiver. I’m excited to see what he can do. Him and Jack Austin will be battling there for the spring, and we’ll see who comes out of it.”
The 6-foot-3 Anderson caught 46 balls for 661 yards and five touchdowns last year, playing in 10 games and starting eight, as he and Darius Powe split time due to various injuries. Now, he’s healthy and ready to go, and he’s already seen some improvement in himself, and the group.
“We compete against ourselves a lot, because I’ve been saying it for three years now: We’re the best receivers in the nation,” Anderson said. “We can’t hold ourselves to some mediocre standards and goals. We want to continue to improve on what we’re doing, and be the heartbeat of this team.”
Anderson said that he’s gotten “a little quicker,” but didn’t see a big improvement in his 40 time. When he gets on the field though, he looks much smoother coming in and out of his breaks, and accelerates much quicker.
“It wasn’t a whole bunch faster, but I worked on quickness and footwork, because, in my position, I have to make moves in small spaces over the middle, so that was my primary focus over the spring and over the winter.”
That work showed up in spades on a seam route up the middle during one-on-ones – one of the first reps taken during that period of practice.
“That’s just, I got to expect to catch that ball, every single time,” said Anderson. “If Jared trusts me to throw the ball up in any situation, I’ve got to catch it. I actually made a technical mistake in the process. It’s a preferred outside release, and I kind of got held up, and that’s why it was a much more difficult catch to make, but it’s still Day One. I still feel like we have a lot to show you guys. We’re still getting out the kinks.”
Chase Forrest (14g), Pierre Ingram, Maurice Harris (3w), Chad Hansen (25w), Justin Dunn (84w), Kenny Lawler (4w), Trevor Davis (9w), Erik Brown (11w, black socks), Ray Hudson (11w, white socks), Bryce Treggs (1w), Ross Bowers (7g), Jared Goff (16g), Jack Austin (21w), Stephen Anderson (89w), Cameron Walker (3b), Caleb Coleman (10b), Derron Brown (4b), Darius Powe (10w), Luke Rubenzer (8b), David Garner (42b), Trey Cheek (23b), Darius White (6b)