Fall Camp Day 1 in the Books

The 2008 California Golden Bear football season is officially underway. The team came out Monday night in helmets only. The biggest story entering camp was the quarterbacks, neither looked stellar, but projected starting LT Mike Tepper not practicing became the focus on opening day…

California kicked off its 2008 season with the start of fall practice Monday evening. The helmet-only session did not provide any intense hitting action but the players were anxious to get back to business.

"It feels good to get back on the field especially knowing its the last one," said senior free safety Bernard Hicks. "It felt good back out here with the boys, playing fast."

The Monday evening practice at Memorial Stadium focused primarily on individual drills, along with some late-practice 11-on-11 action.

"We had great energy; the guys are really flying around and doing a nice job," Cal head coach Jeff Tedford said. "I'm really pleased with some of the young guys. Consistency is the thing, as you go through camp there's a lot of information and keeping up with the learning curve is going to be really important for some of the young guys. Overall, I was really pleased with the tempo of practice and the way they all worked together."

Nate Longshore took first team reps with Kevin Riley backing him up. For the first day, neither quarterback was quite impressive. Riley threw quite a few beautiful long balls, but only few landed on target. Moreover, youngsters Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney also threw well.

Jahvid Best showed no signs of the injury that kept him out of spring ball. He consistently darted through the defense. However, Shane Vereen was equally as impressive. The receiving corps is extremely young but still has two seniors. Sixth-year senior Sean Young joins LaReylle Cunningham as the veterans on the squad.

"I have to be a role model for the young guys," said Cunningham. "I'm the only one with some game experience…if they feel uncomfortable with anything I'm there to help them whether it be on the field, off the field."

Cunningham looked good on the practice field but freshman Michael Calvin and junior Nyan Boateng made some of the most impressive catches on the day. Each showed their tremendous leaping ability to get up to the ball. True frosh Marvin Jones also looks very promising. TE Tad Smith made some great catches Monday night as well.

"The young receivers did a nice job today," Tedford said. "It's going to be a process. They're going to make mistakes but we're going to stay positive with them and like I said, they all have talent and they all have size and speed. The guys who can keep up with the learning curve are the guys that will probably be the contributors. [Wide receivers coach] Kevin Daft will do a tremendous job in coaching them and getting them to understand the concepts and what we're looking for."

In addition to those receivers, another receiver preparing for his first Golden Bear action is junior Nyan Boateng, who took part in team drills the last two springs after transferring from Florida. Boateng was the first offensive player on the field for practice and gave good effort throughout.

"Nyan seems to be more hungry [this year], he seems to fit in really well with the team," Tedford said. "I think he might have come here with the idea that he was from Florida and he was something different than these guys. But now he's found his place here and been accepted and he can just focus on what he needs to do. He doesn't have to put on a show to prove himself. He knows he just needs to fit in by working hard with everybody else."

Mike Tepper missing Monday's practice shuffled around the offensive line. Tepper is expected to miss a part of fall camp with a pectoral and hamstring injury. Alex Mack and Noris Malele were the only two players not affected, and the only other returning starters on the line.

Mika Kane got the starting nod at nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. But the linebackers are easily the most impressive group on the field. Zack Follett, Worrell Williams, Anthony Felder and Michael Mohamed form a stellar unit. Felder has changed his number to 7 from 15, and with the number change, he has added even more weight. He is listed at 241 pounds.

In wide receiver/defensive back one-on-ones, the receivers consistently beat the DBs. However, the receivers also had their share of dropped balls.

For more on day one of fall camp please click HERE for access to the Golden Bear Insider forum.

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