For Cal fans, it’s got to be a sweet sound. No where in the country is there a faster trio of receivers than at Cal. DeSean Jackson, Robert Jordan, Lavelle Hawkins. Hmmm. That’s impressive stuff and an indication of the kind of recruiting that is going on in Berkeley. You’ve got the monster of USC and you still manage to field this kind of lineup. Very impressive.
Whether they turn out to be the best trio of wide receivers in the country remains to be seen. The potential is there.
Cal wide receivers coach Danny Ferrigno took time out this week to talk about his group going into camp.
“DeSean Jackson is coming off a very good year,” Ferrigno said. “He is a big-play receiver. But I look for him to improve even more. He is getting stronger and he is putting on more weight. His blocking needs to improve. He’s only 165 pounds and I would like to see him at 175 just for his own health. That extra weight won’t affect his speed.”
Jackson took a monster shot against USC, but in general Ferrigno said he doesn’t take a lot of dead on shots. “He’s very shifty,” Ferrigno said.
I asked Ferrigno why Jackson didn’t play baseball this spring. He had indicated toward the end of last season that he was interested. “That conversation never came up between he and I,” Ferrigno said. “I think he realizes that his future is in football.”
Ferrigno said some of this spring’s camp will be about finding ways to best use the talented trio. “We have to find the things that DeSean does well and take advantage of it,” Ferrigno said. “The same could be said of Hawk and Robert.”
Although Hawkins and Jordan aren’t quite as fast as Jackson, they are burners as well. And besides all that speed, Hawkins has size at 6-foot-2 that the other two do not have.
“Lavelle really had a good year,” Ferrigno said. “His overall play was excellent. He blocked very well when he was in the slot. He is a really fast, tough kid. He still needs to improve on his discipline as far as route running. But he is getting better. He also has to get more consistency catching with his hands. When he does drop one, it’s often because he is not concentrating.
“He can be a very explosive player for us.”
Like Jackson, Jordan is about 165 pounds. “He needs to put weight on,” Ferrigno said. “He needs to get to 175.”
Besides his speed, Ferrigno said Jordan is an amazing technician. “In all my years, he is one of the best route runners I’ve been around. He really pays attention to what he is coached on. He has great ability to get in and out of a cut. He has great ability to separate from a defensive back. He needs to work on his blocking strength. But he is the best practice player I’ve ever been around.”
Ferrigno was asked if he ever has had a faster trio of wide outs. “No, not as fast,” he said. “If we run the ball, with these fast receivers, we will have the ability to run the ball, then put it into the running back’s belly, and if the secondary freezes at all, we will have the ability to pull it out and get behind people and make big plays. We are not afraid to throw the ball deep.”
With Cal’s talented trio, it’s going to be tough for the other players to get snaps at wide out. Sam DeSa is knocking on the door, but he has yet to show his talents in game situations. “Sam needs to prove he can consistenty catch the ball in game situations,” Ferrigno said. “He gets in and out of breaks well. He can block. But when he doesn’t catch the ball, it hurts his chances. This is a guy who knows what to do. I think he should contribute a lot.”
“Sean Young is a guy with good speed but his route running needs to improve this spring. He needs to work on his overall concentration.
“LaReylle Cunningham, I would hope he will be a contributor. He needs to improve on his ability to run fast. That holds him back a little.”
Redshirt freshman Jeremy Ross is trying to fight his way up the depth chart. “He seems to have what it takes,” Ferrigno said. “He is big and physical. He is a good all-around athlete. He is very strong. We have to see if he can pick up the system.
“Daniel Lofton is a big, fast kid. He seems to be a good route runner. He needs to improve catching the football.”
“It’s going to be difficult to break in, but that’s what I challenge them to do. I will play the guys good enough to help us win. You have to prove to me that you can help us win. That’s what spring practice is all about.”