BERKELEY -- Saturday saw several big additions to the California full-contact camp roster, including a trio of local defensive backs in Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep's Chandler Gumbs and the Pittsburg (Calif.) duo of Shurod Thompson and Jordan Parker. Another big name showed up to help hand out some pizza for lunch to the campers: Marshawn Lynch. But, just as suddenly as Lynch showed up – staying as close to anonymous as a Super Bowl-winning tailback can (several campers questioned whether or not Lynch was Lynch, having seen reports of him finally showing up to mini camp with the Seattle Seahawks) – he disappeared into the foliage, his job done for the day.
-- Back on the field, Gumbs drew praise from several Bears coaches, including Garret Chachere, while Thompson and Parker teamed up on both offense and defense for several big highlights in the first camp session, and then retreated into the Simpson Center for Student Athlete High Performance for an hourlong meeting with defensive backs coach Greg Burns, where they broke down Cal game tape.
Some of Thompson's highlights included a huge hit on the Richmond (Calif.) Salesian quarterback on a naked boot to the right side, crushing him on the sideline short of a first down. A series later, Thompson scored a touchdown on a leaping grab, one of two on the game.
-- BYU defensive line commit David Lui was on campus to work out for the coaching staff, a week after committing to the Cougars. He flew out for one day of work, and was then headed back to camp in Utah. His foot speed was a bit plodding, but he has a lot of power. Push comes to shove, it wouldn't be shocking if he winds up moving to the offensive line at some point down the road.
-- The star of the latter half of the day had to be Merced (Calif.) quarterback Tyrone Williams. I've seen Williams twice before during seven-on-seven competitions during the spring, and each time, he's gotten more and more accurate, and his motion has moved closer and closer to something that's easy to stomach. Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin liked what he saw of Williams, who completed his first seven passes against a secondary that included both Thompson and Parker.
Williams will get to work out personally with Franklin on Sunday, the final day of camp, as Franklin told him he didn't want to pull him away from the rest of his Merced team during team work.
-- Another quarterback who got one-on-one time with Franklin on Saturday was Hunter Petlansky. The 2016 signal-caller had a rough go of it on Friday, with several errant snaps throwing off his timing, and uneven throwing. On Saturday, Petlansky was slinging, able to use his superior athleticism to escape defensive end/linebacker Kori Collons during their full-pad game, and using his swift feet to move the pocket and complete passes downfield. Franklin even called several series for Petlansky, and provided play-by-play advice and coaching.
-- Petlansky was taken aside by Franklin in the middle of the day to work out with several wide receivers outside of the rest of camp activities. One of Petlansky's favorite receivers during that time was Santa Rosa (Calif.) Maria Carrillo 2015 athlete Alex Netherda. Petlansky was quite taken with the 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete, who he called "White Chocolate."
Netherda is very reminiscent of Bryce McGovern, but with a little extra length. He's an all-around athlete who's jumped off the field over the first two days of camp. Is he a Pac-12 scholarship athlete? He could be, but if he's available at the end of the recruiting cycle, he'd be a hell of a value grab. He played running back and wide receiver during early scrimmage sessions, occasionally playing safety. He played free safety last season, and strong safety the season before. He will return to playing running back and strong safety this year, but his best position is as an inside receiver. Definitely someone to keep an eye on, and the Cal coaching staff knows it. Netherda has spoken quite a bit with Burl Toller and Pierre Ingram, and a bit with Franklin and head coach Sonny Dykes. Franklin tapping Netherda to catch passes in the private side session "meant a lot," to him, but, he said, "It's easy to look good with a top-notch quarterback like this guy," pointing to Petlansky.
-- Along the offensive line, there were two standouts: Caleb Blakeley and Dmitri Acken. Blakeley had a much better day on Saturday than Friday, laying out four pancake blocks in team scrimmages, as opposed to the zero he notched on Friday. Blakeley attributed his increased productivity at center to lessons from offensive line coach Zach Yenser, and a bit more time with his weekend teammates. That said, Blakeley has had maybe one bad snap over the first two days. He's easily been the most consistent center. Blakeley continues to be on Cal's radar as a potential offeree.
Acken was an unknown coming into camp, and he was the subject of much praise both from coaches and his teammates for his ability to pull at the right guard spot. His affinity for the right guard spot is impressive, considering that he's played almost exclusively at defensive tackle for the previous two seasons. Two more inches and he's probably a BCS-level lineman, but he'll make some FCS team very, very happy if he continues to be as diligent in his work ethic as he has been already. Acken said he's heard from San Jose State, Cal Poly and Sacramento State recently, and he's headed to the Cal Poly and UC Davis camps soon. Right now, he favors Davis, and wants to major in viticulture.
-- 2016 Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley middle linebacker Nick Kane also stood out, and he's been under wraps for a while. The secret, however, is starting to get out, after his performance recently at Stanford's camp. Yale has expressed heavy interest – verging on an offer – and the 3.7-GPA student also has Northwestern and Duke sniffing around. Kane has visited Cal before, during spring ball, when he had lengthy talks with Chachere, sat in on a linebackers meeting, did film review and gave the staff some more of his film. Kane is a very heady linebacker who comes downhill hard, but could use some time in the weight room to move some of his weight around. He has a good, long, wide frame that just needs a bit of refinement. Another one to watch.
-- Two other standouts over the course of the first two days include Darius Powe -- no, not that Darius Powe, who he "my twin," as not only are their names spelled the same, but pronounced the same as well – and Nigel Center.
Powe has gained more than 20 pounds of muscle since showing up at Cal's camp last year at this time, and as a cornerback/wide receiver, he's one of the more physically gifted 2016ers in camp, outside of Thompson. He has some big shoes to fill in the El Cerrito (Calif.) secondary this coming season, but it's hard not to think he'll do a fine job. He's got very, very long levers, plays with good leverage and, though he comes loose at times, he's got a ton of upside.
Center plays on TMP Elite 7-on-7, which is normally stocked, making him a bit of an afterthought, but seeing him work up-close with Burns is very revealing. Center has known Bears target Isaiah Langley since he was six-years old. The two are very close, with Langley giving his stamp of approval on the 6-foot-2, 196-pounder. Center had to take off the middle portion of the day as his right foot was bothering him, residual pain from an injury suffered earlier in spring.
CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: DBs Galore
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