BERKELEY -- Junior California wide receiver Chad Hansen is on pace for 2,336 yards receiving and 173 catches this season from the Z-receiver spot for the Bears. It's almost certain that he won't be reaching those numbers, but a season of over 100 catches is not out of the question, and neither is a 1,000-yard receiving season.
"Sometimes, the only time guys really get recognized is if they put up some stupid numbers," head coach Sonny Dykes said on Tuesday. "Chad was not a five-star recruit coming out of high school. I don't even know if Chad was a zero-star recruit. I don't know that he was. So, I think sometimes you get labeled as that, and that's a hard label to overcome, because people say, 'You can't be very good, because so-and-so didn't recruit you. That's pretty ridiculous, because, clearly, he's a good player."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1708843-bttv-sonny-dykes-t... Hansen certainly has become the best pro prospect among the receiving corps, and he wasn't in a single major recruiting database coming out of Moorpark (Calif.).
All that said, as much as Dykes loves those numbers, he doesn't want the Bears to just be the Davis Webb and Chad Hansen Vaudeville Variety Hour.
"The thing we have to do is, we have to get one of our X's playing like that, as well," Dykes said. "We've got some younger guys who haven't played much, but that's a big challenge for us, is to get that position playing like Chad's playing. We've got three good players there. It's just a matter of who's going to rise, and take that position over. They've all shown flashes of really playing well, but we haven't gotten that consistent level of play yet, and we really need to get that."
On Tuesday, that X was Brandon Singleton. Singleton made his presence felt early, hauling in a 35-yard grab in seven-on-seven work from Webb, after the requisite first-down pass from Webb to Hansen. When practice turned to 11-on-11 work, Singleton hauled in a pass for nine yards from Webb, thanks to a block on the edge from freshman Jordan Duncan, who'd been very quiet over the past two weeks of practice (and did not play against San Diego State).
Singleton caught one pass for 15 yards against the Longhorns last week, hauling in a throw back left from Webb after Khalfani Muhammad was set in motion right as a decoy by Webb. The throw was good for a first down, leading to a 29-yard touchdown by Melquise Stovall.
Stovall saw a massively increased role on Saturday, with six catches for 74 yards. His ability to make defenders miss, and his quickness, earned him some reps on kickoff return on Tuesday in practice, and since he's seen time there throughout fall camp, it won't be a surprise to see him get more game reps there as the season wears on.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1708915-blue-collar-but-le... "I think he's always been in the plans," said inside receivers coach Jacob Peeler. "I just think we threw some different stuff at him, some stuff where he gets the ball quick, let him do what naturally comes to him. He played the running back position, and we were able to get him some quick tosses and do what he did in high school, which got him all the accolades and got him all the scholarships. It was fun to watch him. He played fast, and I think that's important. He's still learning how to transition practice into games, and being consistent in all those things, but thought he had a good week."
Also continuing to make strides, particularly on special teams, was freshman Demetris Robertson, who turned in a long kickoff return down the far sideline during the final special teams period. He may not get in on that unit during the first half of the season, because so much of kickoff return is decision making and quick thinking -- things he still needs to develop, beyond his inherent athleticism which got him yards in high school -- but his speed and vision will be hard to be kept down as the season progresses.
"He's a guy we feel can help us," said Peeler. "He kind of matches that position that Melquise brings, that Bug brings. We're just trying to get him some reps. He's got a natural fit for that position, played some of that position in high school, so we just think he has good hands, and he's kind of a jitterbug type guy, so it'll be fun to watch him in space."
Echols had been working as a scout team running back, along with fellow freshman running back Derrick Clark, but it's not yet been decided if Echols's abilities would be worth burning his redshirt this season. It's more of a move for the future, at this point.
"We'll see," Peeler said. "I don't know. It was Day One today, and I thought he handled it well. His head's swimming, I'm sure, a little bit, but he handled it well, and we'll see, moving forward. He's had a couple good Sunday nights out here in scrimmages, and we saw what he looked like with the ball in his hands. Obviously, you saw on Saturday night, guys like that are important, the ability to make that guy miss. That was obviously something, when we went through the recruiting process, we looked for guys like that, and he possesses that skill set, catches the ball well, and obviously we have a veteran group at running back right now. We thought, as a receiving corps, guys tend to get hurt, start to wear down, and he can bring a little bit of freshness to that position."
Offensive tackle Patrick Mekari was not in pads, and did not play on Saturday due to a rolled ankle. He was out of the brace he was in much of last week, and was conditioning.
The man Mekari replaced as starter in the first two games, Aaron Cochran, was back with the one's, and showed off much quicker footwork. After a sub-par day against Texas, allowing two sacks, Cochran was in top form on Tuesday.
Starting right tackle Steven Moore worked at left tackle with the second line during walkthrough periods, with Semisi Uluave at left guad, Dominic Granado at center, Jeremiah Stuckey at right guard and Kamryn Bennett at right tackle.
After not playing on Saturday, and being in a walking boot most of last week, wide receiver Vic Wharton was not in pads on Tuesday.
With Wharton out, inside receiver Bug Rivera took punt return reps, as he did on Saturday against Texas, returning two punts for one net yard.
In the first set of 11-on-11s, the offense made three straight first downs, highlighted by a slant catch from Patrick Worstell. As Chase Forrest too the reins, he hit Jake Ashton wide open up the seam for a big gain, with Tre Watson following that up with a 20-yard run over left guard and a 10-yard run over right guard.