So he isn’t a perfect tight end.
Craig Stevens is a flat-out stud when it comes to mauling a guy at the line of scrimmage.
Did you wish Cal would have used more spread last season? Blame it on Stevens. Jeff Tedford didn’t like the look of his team when Stevens wasn’t on the field.
“There is something you always look for in your very good players,” said Cal tight ends and special teams coach Pete Alamar. “That’s continued growth. You can always look at the film and say, ‘here are some things we need to work on.’ ”
Simply put, though, Alamar said Stevens is the best blocker at point of attack in the Pac-10 (and perhaps a whole lot of other places as well). “He is one of the most dominating run blockers in the country,” Alamar said.
Stevens has become a better receiver over his previous three seasons and there is some more work to do. “Every guy has a spot that is kind of a blind spot for him,” Alamar said. “We know that Craig can make those tough catches over the middle. He is good at making that catch into his body. He has some trouble with the ball over his outside shoulder, it has got to do with transferring his eyes. It is something he is working on.
“Of course, every receiver wants to catch 1,000 balls. He is trying to grow more into that role. He also keeps working at getting stronger, and in terms of being a leader, I’m watching that grow.”
Alamar said that if there is a perception that Stevens isn’t pretty darned good catching the ball, it is wrong. “If you are a tight end and you drop one, everyone remembers it,” Alamar said. “You don’t have 60 other catches to hide the one you dropped.”
He also noted that Stevens is not just a glorified offensive lineman. “On timing day, he ran a 4.7 in the 40 and he has run that consistently. If you go check what the tight ends were running at the NFL combine, you now that’s not bad.”
Now a senior, Stevens is the sure thing at tight end. But charging to the forefront might be Cameron Morrah. He is a sophomore now and appears ready to make an impact.
“This is the year we expect him to blossom,” Alamar said. “We want to see him play with confidence and let it loose. This should be an exciting time for Cameron. He runs well, catches well, has good hands and is very athletic. He has to improve his run blocking, but that’s just a matter of coming off the ball and knowing that he can do it. The big thing for him is just learning what it takes to play at this level.”
Alamar said Morrah doesn’t look like he is running fast at time, but his long stride just gobbles up ground. “It’s like Wow, he just took off. Now he just needs to run like that all the time. It will be interesting to see if he can take it to the next level.”
Julian Arthur is a former water polo player who is now a 275-pounder who should contribute on short yardage and goal-line situations. “He is just a great story,” Alamar said. “He is a walk-on who has busted his hump. Unfortunately, he has a little knee injury and is going to miss some of camp.”
Cal gets another JC transfer tight end from Butte in Skylar Curran, who will have three years of eligibility remaining. Alamar said his biggest concern with Curran this point is that he just gets used to the speed of the game. “He is going to go through some growing pains,” Alamar said.
Alamar also mentioned Garry Graffort. “What a great kid,” Alamar said. “I don’t know when, but at some point, he will help us. He is passionate about the game. Guys like that, at some point you know they will find their way on the field.”