The Early Signees
Melquise Stovall is not the tallest, but he’s a spark plug. He’s been compared to Bryce Treggs, insofar as he’s taking Treggs’s spot as the slot receiver, but he’s very different in many respects. The way he describes it, Treggs is a catch guy, and he’s a catch-and-make-someone-miss guy. Treggs has always been a downfield threat and a route-running perfectionist, while Stovall is purely an explosive athlete who finds ways to make things happen.
He played running back for the West in the U.S. Army All-American Game, allowing him to show off that ability to make defenders miss, but it was his 40+ yard kickoff return that really showcased his abilities to make people miss in the open field.
He’ll get about five carries a game, he says, in the backfield for the Bears, and he’ll provide a nice counterpoint and change of pace to the three returning full-time backs in Khalfani Muhammad, Tre Watson and Vic Enwere. The real question now is: Who coaches him? With Tony Franklin having left for Middle Tennessee, and Burl Toler – who worked with the running backs – done with his Graduate Assistant term, there’s a lot up in the air.
No matter who coaches Stovall, though, head coach Sonny Dykes has said that the core offense – and the way the Bears will utilize their new weapons – will not change.
Stovall had 1,847 all-purpose yards as a senior, with 14 total touchdowns. He scored in five different ways (interception return, kick return, punt return, receiving, rushing) during the 2015 campaign, and registered 46 receptions for 740 yards and five touchdown catches with a 16.1 yards per reception average, while adding another 450 yards and six rushing touchdowns on the ground on only 40 carries for an average of 11.3 yards per rush.
Stovall also had 374 kick return yards and one touchdown on 14 returns (26.7 ypr), 195 punt return yards and one score on 17 returns (11.5 avg) and 88 yards including one pick six on two interception returns. Stovall added 68 tackles, six passes defended, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal on defense and special teams.
On a 10-4 team as a 2014 junior, Stovall gained 2,455 all-purpose yards and 24 total touchdowns. He rushed for 1,603 yards and 20 touchdowns on 198 carries (8.1 ypr) and caught 21 balls for 415 yards for two touchdowns, while also adding 176 kick return yards and 209 punt return yards, with one touchdown, and two picks for 52 yards and a score On defense, he made 32 tackles and added eight passes defended.
Another Take: “Stovall is lighting in a bottle, who's both quick and fast. He plays primarily running back at the HS level but will likely move to slot WR in college. He's a breakaway threat who can hit the home run from anywhere on the field and score just about any time he touches the ball. He has a ton of wiggle, can make multiple defenders miss in the open field and shows very good hands out of the backfield as well.” – Greg Biggins
Max Gilliam is going to be in the thick of things when it comes to the quarterback competition this spring. Gilliam may not have Jared Goff's height, but he’s got a cannon for an arm, can run like a deer, features remarkable escapability and a lot of toughness. Beyond just keeping plays going with his feet, he can make things happen with his legs. He can expand the offense by giving the Bears a true dual threat who is just as comfortable in the pocket as he is on the run.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1638909-bear-republic-podc... As a junior, he threw for 2,920 yards and 29 touchdowns, rushing for 625 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a senior, Gilliam threw for 3,413 yards on 217-of-294 passing, with 40 touchdowns to just five interceptions for a QB rating of 144.5. He also rushed for 666 yards on 146 carries, with two 100+ yard games and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Another Take: "A true dual threat quarterback who can beat you with his arm or his legs. Has a nice, athletic frame, runs very well and can throw the ball from multiple arm angles. Shows enough arm strength to make all the throws and understands when to throw with zip or take a little off. He shows nice pocket poise, is a natural leader and will be well liked by his teammates. Also has a very good work ethic off the field and is not close to peaking." - Greg Biggins
Sonny Says: “Max is exactly what we are looking for at the quarterback position. He has everything you want from a quarterback – size and strength, a big arm that allows him to make all the throws, and the ability to run, plus he’s also a great student of the game. I am really impressed with everything about him as a student-athlete, football player and leader.”
A JuCo All-American as a freshman, Dwayne Wallace is big all over, and he used to be bigger.
Up to this point last year, his weakness had been weight and conditioning. He’s gone from 340 pounds to 320 pounds, and at 6-foot-5, hasn’t lost any of his strength, and he’s obviously gotten much quicker.
Over the past year, he’s gotten in much better shape, and that shape is perfect for right guard, which was as late occupied by Jordan Rigsbee, or tackle. The thing that strikes you about Wallace is that he has very quick, agile feet for a man his size, and he’s bull-strong. What you see repeatedly in his tape is the fact that he can just sit and stone a charging defensive lineman. That said, he needs to learn how to pass protect as part of a group, and that means dropping back with the new kick-slide that Cal has used since the middle of last season.
That said, watching him drop his hips and become an absolute rock is impressive. He’s got grown-man strength, and incredible balance. The most striking thing about Wallace is his low, strong, balanced power base, which is exactly what you want when building an offensive lineman from the ground up.
Sonny Says: “We want to create more competition for playing time on the offensive line and we think Dwayne will come in right away and push for playing time,” Dykes said. “He is a big, physical and versatile offensive lineman with a bright future who can play both guard and tackle and is going to help us get bigger up front.”
Marloshawn Franklin is a big corner, as is, and will wind up playing safety for the Bears. He can step in right away and fill the exact role of now-graduated corner Darius White, who started all of last season. His coaches have said that he’s a player with a great work ethic, who rises to any challenge.
He’s a defensive back that excels in man coverage, and is very physical and intense. It’s that physicality that leads me to believe that he’ll wind up in the middle of the field at some point, especially with the loss of Stefan McClure, and Luke Rubenzer now headed back to the offensive side of the ball.
Sonny Says: “We expect Marloshawn to be able to come in and compete for a starting job from day one,” Dykes said. “He is a big corner who is a really good athlete and a competitive player. We really like a lot of the things he does in terms of both tackling and pass coverage.”
One of Cal's nine early enrollees, Jordan Duncan will be in the mix right away, with the departure of Cal's six top receivers from lat year. At 6-foot-2, 295, Duncan is a big, strong outside target, who hauled in 73 balls for 1,101 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Also a basketball player, Duncan has plus leaping ability, and combined with his ball skills, that makes him a very strong red zone threat. He spent four seasons on varsity, piling up 3,455 yards all-purpose yards, 3,488 receiving yards, 223 catches and 36 touchdowns, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark in each of his last two seasons, and coming close as a sophomore, with 926 receiving yards.
Scouting Report: "Jordan has been a mainstay for the Warriors offense the past two seasons. He has helped them to two Class 6A Final appearances and their school's first State Championship in the '13 season. When watching Jordan on film it is evident that he is just a football player. He doesn't wow you with his speed but he runs precise routes and has strong hands which allows him to catch the ball exceptionally well in traffic. He is the type of receiver that you can depend on when it's 3rd and 8 and you need the big catch for a first down. Duncan does have good footwork and can make you miss with his quick cuts." – Yancy Porter
Sonny Says: “Jordan Duncan is an elite athlete,” Dykes said. “He’s got good size and speed as well as great ball skills. He also has a fantastic work ethic and is one of the most mature young people I’ve ever met. Jordan is very focused and knows what he wants. I think he is going to be a very productive football player and because he’s going to graduate early from high school and go through spring ball he will have a great chance to play as a freshman.”
Russell Becker is bigger than he’s listed, and certainly plays that way. That’s the first thing you notice about Becker. He’s a barrel-chested battering ram. He’s gained a lot of weight since high school (going from 6-2, 195 to 6-4, 255) while attending JuCo, and he’s going to get even bigger in the Cal weight room. He’s listed as a defensive end, but when Fred Tate saw him at the post-grad camp back in June, he immediately saw him as a defensive tackle.
Becker totaled 53 tackles, including 10 sacks, and had one forced fumble in seven games during his sophomore season this fall. He had 5.5 sacks in eight games as a freshman
Sonny Says: “We think Rusty will develop into a really good player,” Dykes said. “He is an excellent athlete with length and size who has really impressed us with the way he can run.”
Offensive line was a priority this recruiting class, and Cal certainly started off on a big note by getting local tackle Jake Curhan. The biggest difference I’ve seen in Curhan since he was a recruit, to now, is that his body has completely transformed. He was very pear-shaped and doughy to start out, but he’s leaned out considerably, and has gained a lot of strength. He’s also become far more mobile. Watching his junior highlights now, the thing that strikes me is that he was a bit heavy-footed, but powerful. At 6-foot-7, he still has very long arms, and those are going to serve him well locking out against defensive ends at the college level.
Now that he’s in better shape, we’ve seen him even take handoffs in the backfield as a fullback. That’s how much his footwork has improved. He’s shown a great improvement in his explosion, as well. Everything you’d expect from him getting into better shape, is what you see. He’s a tremendous drive blocker who can sometimes get out over his feet, and that’s going to need to be fixed. He needs to be more balanced against bigger, quicker, stronger college defensive ends. That’s the problem watching Curhan’s tape – he’s just so much bigger and stronger than anyone else that it’s hard to really gauge him in any intricate technical detail.
He’s going to have to adjust to the spread offense, but now that Cal is no longer using the vertical set, the transition should be much easier.
Curhan is also very bright, with a 3.8 cumulative GPA, and has been a member of the National Honor Society each semester.
Sonny Says: “We need to sign tackles and Jake is exactly what we’re looking for,” Dykes said. “He’s a big tackle with good size and length, and he’s a good athlete. I think he’s going to develop into an excellent football player. Jake’s also a great student and a local kid. He’s exactly the type of student-athlete we want to have in our program.”
Derrick Clark and Gilliam committed on back-to-back days, so they’re inextricably linked in that way, but also because they’ve been two of the truest-blue commits Cal has had, and some of the longest-tenured.
He’s an interesting athlete, in that he had some looks from pro baseball scouts while playing shortstop and center field for Mission Bay, and that he’s coming to Cal as a running back, when he’s mainly played quarterback throughout his high school career. As a junior, he rushed 128 times for 1,519 yards and 23 touchdowns, while completing 34 of 57 passes for 630 yards and two touchdowns.
This season, he rushed for 1,361 yards and 13 touchdowns, earning his second-straight first-team All-Western League nod.
He describes himself as “a power back with speed,” and at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, with a 4.46 40 time, he’s certainly that. He also finishes runs very well.
Sonny Says: “He is a versatile running back with a skill set that fits nicely into our offense both running the ball and coming out of the backfield as a receiver,” Dykes said. “He also has tremendous character and an excellent academic background that will serve him well within the culture of our football team and in the classroom.”
Jordan Veasy is an instant replacement for the departed senior Darius Powe, with identical measurements and strengths. A Gadsden Ala., native, Veasy was first-team all-conference as an all-purpose player in the National Division of the Southern League in the Southern California Football Association this past season, piling up 1,552 all-purpose yards for a team that went 8-3. Veasy caught 63 balls for 1,036 yards and 11 touchdowns, and returned 20 kickoffs for 473 yards.
Sonny Says: “Jordan is a receiver with excellent size and strength who is versatile enough to play either inside or outside,” Dykes said. “He was a very productive receiver this season but he is also definitely one of those guys who has his best football in front of him. He was overlooked early but got really hot late in the recruiting process and we were able to hang on to him when he had an opportunity to go lots of different places.”