Cal receiver Ray Hudson talks about his summer with Davis Webb

Ray Hudson has been attached to Jared Goff's hip for four years. What does he think of new Cal quarterback Davis Webb?

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Veteran California inside receiver Ray Hudson said he'll have "several roles" this year -- not just as a pass catcher, but more as a true tight end at times, blocking and clearing out the middle -- but he also has a new role, when he's not between the lines: Leader.

"We've lost a lot of receivers that have experience," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "Ray's as experienced as anybody that we've got, in terms of our wide receivers, and I think he'll be the leader of the group. He has great size, has really, really good hands, has been a consistent player for us, has done a lot of things for us, on special teams because of his body type and his athleticism -- and I'm really excited about what he brings to the table." Hudson had been, since he came to Cal, Jared Goff's consigliere. He was Goff's own personal auriga -- a gladiator who whispered to victorious Roman generals, "Remember: You are human," during celebratory chariot rides through the streets of the ancient capital.

Now, as the elder statesman of the receiving corps, you'd think it's time Hudson moves up in the world. But, he's still the same old Ray, just with a new signal-caller that he has to break in.

Still bereft of a single touchdown in his career, Hudson has eschewed the idea of slipping Davis Webb a $20 bill before their Aug. 27 game in Sydney, Australia.

"Like I told Jared: I saved it for an international one," Hudson said. "I really want an international one."

Hudson tried to get Goff to stay one more year by guilting him with the fact that the two old roommates had never connected on a touchdown pass in three years. So, Hudson tried a different tactic with the new guy.

"No, I let him win in golf yesterday," Hudson said. "I was winning the front nine, by a considerable amount, and he happened to win. It got dark, it was windy ..." Hudson trails off, laughing.

"No, he played a good back nine," Hudson admits. "I was surprised. I think he hustled me."

Was the new Cal quarterback, gasp, sandbagging?

"I really think he was," Hudson grins. "He came out strong on the back nine. His last two holes, best drives I've seen from anybody. I definitely got hustled. I'm still mad about it." Webb's spring visit to Berkeley, Hudson was one of the first players he spoke with. Hudson was dinged up, and not practicing. So, the two stood on the sidelines and talked.

"He wanted to know as much as possible about the offense, right then and there," said Hudson.

The offense, of course, was relatively new to Hudson and the Bears. Yes, Jake Spavital's offense shared large structural similarities to Tony Franklin's system, but there were some differences. Webb would later say that Spavital's scheme was so similar to that run by his former institution -- Texas Tech -- that he said he didn't want three years of learning Kliff Kingsbury's system "to go to waste."

Then, Hudson pointed out the weapons Webb would have.

"I showed him Chad HansenJordan Veasy and Melquise Stovall, and I was like, 'You want to throw to these guys,'" Hudson said. "You give them the ball in space, they're going to make plays. They're guys you can rely on. I also pointed to the offensive line. These are guys you can count on, and there's consistency across the board. That's what it home for him."

The day Webb officially signed, he sent a direct message to Hudson over Twitter: "Just know, we're going to smell roses." 

"You can tell he's one of those guys that has confidence about him, he knows what he wants, he wants the best for the team, and if he gets the job, he's going to lead us there," Hudson said.

The next day, Webb texted all of the receivers in a group chat. He wanted to throw. They've thrown every day since. "He's one of those guys, you'll check your phone and you'll have five text messages: 'Throw this time, this time, this time, which one works for you? I'm free all day.' You can choose a time, or choose multiple times. He'll be out there for all of them. If there's a guy that can't make a throwing at 4:30, he's out there at 1:00 making it work. He's there from 6 a.m. to 10 at night. He's always working hard. He's elevating everybody's game to the next level. I'm watching more film, because I know, if I'm at the stadium, sitting in the lounge, watching TV, I think, 'Wow, he's probably upstairs watching film.' And, next thing I know, we're watching film for three or four hours."

In that sense, Webb is very much like Goff, who, Franklin said, would beat him to his office every day to watch film, and still be there when Franklin left. 

At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, though, Webb is physically a different kind of animal than Goff. His weight room numbers are, Dykes estimated, in the top five in the entire program.

Dykes pegged Webb's daily clock-in at 6 a.m., and his clock-out at 10 p.m., every night.

"In 20-plus years of doing this, I've never seen a guy that's more dedicated to being a good player than he is," Dykes said. "His work ethic is unparalleled."

"We're watching film from three years ago, an NFL game, a random game that somehow, he found," Hudson said. "There's a play and he's like, 'Look at this. We're going to try to do something like this.' Dude, what are you doing, looking at that stuff? I'm out here watching games last year of us, trying to break that film down, and it's just crazy what he's done. His confidence that he has, he's got this confidence, this way about him. He comes in, and takes control. He knows what he wants, and everyone's bought in to that. He doesn't have the job yet. He's got to work for it."

That's not to say Hudson has already declared the race for starting quarterback over. Whenever Dykes talks about buy-in, whenever he talks about team-first players, it's easy to draw a picture of Hudson's grinning, square mug in a thought bubble over Dykes's head. So, Hudson tows the party line, even though Dykes said on Thursday that he'd like to name a staring quarterback the moment one shows separation, even on the first day of camp.

"There's guys -- Chase Forrest  and Ross Bowers -- those guys are very good guys that can throw the ball around. They did well in spring. It's going to be open competition, but when the guy gets named, I know we're all going to back him. We're going to build around him. That's the direction we're going. I know all those guys are willing to work hard. Whoever it is, we're all-in."

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