Cal wide receiver Kenny Lawler follows quarterback Jared Goff and declares for the NFL Draft

California wide receiver Kenny Lawler has followed in the footsteps of his quarterback, Jared Goff, and declared his intention to enter the NFL Draft.

California wide receiver Kenny Lawler, as expected, has declared for the NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound redshirt junior out of Pomona (Calif.) Upland caught a career-high 13 touchdowns this season, including crowd-pleasers against Washington State, UCLA and Oregon State, finishing his career with 27 touchdown grabs -- second all-time among Golden Bears wide receivers. He wants to get over 200 before the NFL Draft Combine.

"I had a talk with coach Franklin and coach Dykes, and they wanted me to make the most educated decision, to really think hard about it, because it's only one shot," Lawler said. "After that, I talked with my parents a lot. My dad is a football caoch, and he's sent players to the NFL, he has some friends in the NFL, so he gave me a lot of insight on what to expect and how to go about it, to remain focused and humble. I ended up getting back my grade, and I'm grateful for what the NFL had to say. I'm not going to get into details, but after the bowl game, I had another talk with my parents, and made the right decision, the best decision, I feel like."

Lawler said he'd gone back and forth "a number of times" over the past weeks, "just rethinking if I'm ready," and, he said, "I had to come to a conclusion that, if I'm going to be ready, I have to stick with that mindset. I can't have second guesses. I can't regret anything."

After the bowl game, he and his family sat down and laid out the pros and cons, and finally made the decision.

Lawler will be remembered for his leaping, one-handed touchdown in 2014 against Sacramento State, his one-handers against the Cougars and Oregon State, and his dependability on the back-shoulder fade that he and NFL-bound quarterback Jared Goff perfected during their time together.

"The offensive game is meant for quarerbacks to succeed, and Jared is a great guy, a great player, and he's going to have a tremendous career in the NFL, but it really had no impact on what I wanted to do," Lawler said of Goff's decision to declare. "For me, it was to make the most educated decision for me and my family." His 13 scoring grabs in 2015 also rank second all-time for a career at Berkeley. Lawler's nine touchdown catches in 2014 are sixth in Cal history.

“We support Kenny in this decision and know that it is a decision that he has put a lot of thought into and wasn’t easy for him to make,” head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “Kenny has been one of the most productive receivers in the history of Cal football and is looking forward to continuing his production in the NFL. He has a natural sense for the game of football and the receiver position that few possess as well as an uncanny ability to make plays in the end zone, which along with his excellent ball skills has led to some of the most unbelievable catches I have ever seen. Kenny has worked very hard to improve upon his natural abilities. We’re going to miss Kenny, but I’m excited about the opportunity in front of him that he has worked so hard for and wish him all the best. I’m looking forward to watching him pursue his dream.”

“The great thing is that Kenny is also close to getting his degree from Cal and has a plan to finish it,” Dykes added. “That is obviously important to me and I know how important it is to him as well.”

Lawler, Cal's first first-team All-Pac-12 wide receiver since Keenan Allen, finished the season with 52 catches for 658 yards. He finishes his Bears career with 1,706 receiving yards on 143 catches.

"I took in guidance from my coaches this offseason, and that helped me on and off the field -- it helped with my academics, and it translated to on the field," Lawler said. "My strength, my explosiveness, my willingness, it all translates, thanks to this last year, man. From when I stepped into this program to this last year, I've matured greatly."

Lawler led Cal in touchdown receptions and catches each of the past two seasons after co-leading the Bears in touchdown receptions as a 2013 redshirt freshman. He also led the team in receiving yards as a 2014 junior.

Lawler sat out much of the final three games on the schedule this season, after coming down hard on his right hip on a touchdown grab against Oregon. Despite that, he still came in for a cameo against Oregon State, catching a leaping, horizontal touchdown in the back of the end zone against the Beavers, and then throwing a block on a screen to Tre Watson to help spring the sophomore running back for a touchdown in the next quarter.

"It was amazing rehab with our training staff; they care a lot about us as student-athletes," Lawler said. "I bought into the training, into the rehab. I was in there, wanting to get right, wanting to get 100 percent. I knew that this could be my last game, and I wanted to be 100 percent. I wanted to overcome the injury that I was facing."

Lawler wasn't used much in the first quarter against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl, but once Goff found him, he threw seven straight completions, including four to Lawler for 50 yards.

In his final game as a Golden Bear, Lawler caught five balls for 75 yards and three touchdowns -- the ninth multi-touchdown game of his career. 

"This Cal degree, coming to Cal was based on academics, and what they produce," Lawler said. "The Cal degree is going to mean a lot to me, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm definitely going to come back and get this degree, because it's very meaningful, for me. I'm grateful for choosing Cal." will train in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with XPE Sports for the NFL Combine,(hoping to run under a 4.49 in the 40, and hit eight reps on the bench press) and joins seniors Bryce TreggsMaurice HarrisDarius PoweStephen Anderson and Trevor Davis as receivers to depart Cal.

"My best memory is what we did for the program, sticking through it on a tough ride," Lawler said.

The Bears will begin rebuilding this spring, with US Army All-American Melquise Stovall likely taking over for Treggs in the slot and JuCo transfer Jordan Veasy taking over for Powe. Also joining the group will be Tennessee transfer Vic Wharton, who sat out this season due to injury and transfer rules, as well as Kanawai Noa and Brandon Singleton, who each saw action this past season. Noa caught seven balls for 76 yards, playing in all 13 games. Singleton played in four games with one catch for 11 yards, and will likely receive a redshirt for this past season.

Former four-star Carlos Strickland and Napa (Calif.) alum Austin Aaron redshirted in 2015, and will be in heavy rotation this coming spring. Aaron broke his collar bone during bowl practice, but said he should be fine by the time spring football rolls around. Strickland saw heavy action during bowl prep practices.

Also returning is Idaho State transfer Chad Hansen, who caught 19 balls for 249 yards this season, and was the receiver most regularly tapped to spell Lawler.

"Man, they're tremendous athletes, as well, and Chad is a speedster," Lawler said. "We have good depth at wide receiver, and Brandon, Carlos, Noa. They all bring something different, man. Carlos, he has his height, Chad has his speed, and Kanawai's very shifty. Brandon, he's a shifty guy, as well. You combine that into this scheme, and it's going to be like what you've seen with me, Trevor, Stephen, Bryce, Darius. With the coaching staff that we have, they're going to bring the best out of them."

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