Who are the contenders to replace Jared Goff as Cal's quarterback?

California will be bringing in Max Gilliam this spring to compete for the quarterback job, but the early-enrollee will have a steep hill to climb, with Chase Forrest, Ross Bowers and now Luke Rubenzer in the mix to replace Jared Goff.

Very soon, California will begin LAG -- Life After Goff.

With record-setting junior quarterback Jared Goff off to the NFL, the Bears now have to find his successor, and it won't be easy. It wasn't easy three years ago, either.

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1449870-the-three-amigos-f..."That was one thing that we said: After that first spring, we had a pretty good sense that it was going to be a challenge for us," says head coach Sonny Dykes. "We said, 'Look, the biggest thing we have to do is we have to have something to build around,' so we needed to make a decision at the quarterback position. We kind of made an unpopular one. I think a lot of people thought we made a mistake. We had some other quarterbacks in our system that they thought were better choices, but we just had to stick through it and weather the storm. We needed something to build on. When you have a quarterback who you can get reps, who you can build the program around, it gives you a chance."

There is no clear successor, at least, not in the way perhaps that fans would like.

"Now, we start it all over again," Dykes said. "Rinse and repeat. That's just part of the deal. The good thing is, we've got some guys. We feel good about our young quarterbacks, and I don't know if any of them are going to be Jared Goff, but we think they're going to be good players."

Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei alum Chase Forrest is the odds-on favorite, after backing up Goff all season, and seeing action in three games.

"All the quarterbacks on the roster would be the front-runner, but Chase probably is, because he's been the backup," Dykes said. "He's gotten the most reps. We'll have a competition, and see how it plays out. We feel confident about Chase. He's produced very well in fall camp, and has played pretty well, when he's had opportunities to play."

"Our quarterbacks have always performed well. They perform better when they're really good players, but we've always been able to figure out what they can do, and ask them to do it, and not ask them to do the things they can't do. Our guys have performed well, so I would expect these guys to perform well. I think that they're talented, they have the right mentality, they've got the right work ethic, they have the things that you want a quarterback to have, but they just don't have a ton of experience at this point. If our guys don't perform well, that's on us. If you can't change your system, and get your quarterback to perform well, it's not your quarterback's fault." -- Sonny Dykes

The other contenders on the roster, currently, are freshman Ross Bowers and Luke Rubenzer, who's making a return to quarterback after a year at safety. Another entry into the mix is incoming early-enrollee Max Gilliam, who completed 217 of 294 passes in his senior season for Thousand Oaks (Calif.), throwing for 3,413 yards and 40 touchdowns to just five interceptions, while rushing 146 times for 666 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"Ross is a kid that's come in and done a great job, and we think he has a lot of upside," Dykes says. "We've got a great quarterback coming in, who's graduating early to join our team. All three of those guys will go out, and we'll let them all compete and see who wins the job, and obviously, Luke Rubenzer will be moving back to quarterback, and he'll be in the mix, as well. We feel like we're going to have three or four good options, and I enjoy watching those guys compete. They're all competitive guys. They all have talent, so it'll be fun to see how it plays out."

Rubenzer has the most experience out of all the contenders, playing in 11 games in 2014 as Goff's primary backup, and also as a change-of-pace wildcat quarterback, who rushed 52 times. Rubenzer has probably the most real-world experience, because he was heavily involved in the game planning for the 11 games he played in as a true freshman. While all backups -- Forrest included -- fall back on the old bromide of preparing every week like they're the starter, Rubenzer is the only one who's actually seen multiple Power Five-level defenses in action, and had to make decisions under fire. Forrest saw mop-up duty in early-season action, but nothing else.

"Luke's done a great job, and he wants to have a chance to compete at that position," Dykes says. "We're going to allow him to do that. It was just like the move to safety. He came to us. He's played quarterback, he's been productive playing quarterback to us. He looked at it, and like everybody else during the season, probably figured that Jared was going to move on, and so, bowl preparations, he worked at quarterback. When we had our scrimmages and that type of thing, just so he could get those reps, and get back in the flow of playing that position."


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