Draft aftermath

One of the things that struck me most about the NFL draft was the comments Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss made about Desmond Bishop. He essentially disregarded Bishop’s time in the 40-yard dash, instead focusing on his skills on the football field. Moss basically made a distinction between timed speed and football speed. He said Bishop was fast enough on the football field to make the necessary plays for them. It was refreshing to hear an NFL coach that isn’t so obsessed with measurables.

To hear the Moss press conference about Bishop, go to http://www.packers.com/draft/2007/av/ and click on the appropriate link from Round 6. You can also hear the Bishop conference call there (warning: you must have realplayer to hear).


NFL draft

It will be interesting to see where Daymeion Hughes goes in the draft this weekend. Obviously, his body of work on the field speaks for itself. But scouts are concerned that he isn’t fast enough to be a lock-down corner in the NFL.

It always amazes me how much pro teams — in football and basketball — are obsessed with the “measurables.” If a guy has the correct height, weight, speed, strength, etc., he becomes a top prospect, seemingly in spite of his skill level as a player. I think a lot of pro teams are confident they can turn a guy into a great player as long as he has the raw athletic ability. As we have seen so often, that is not always the case.

It’s true that college success doesn’t always translate into success in the NFL. But that still seems to be a better barometer than running the 40 in a certain time or squatting a certain weight a number of times. Here’s a crazy idea: How about evaluating how good a player a guy is.

It looks like Marshawn Lynch, Hughes, Brandon Mebane and Desmond Bishop are all locks to be drafted. Don’t be totally shocked if Tim Mixon’s name is called, too. He’s reportedly looked good in workouts and his ability as a kick returner makes him a more attractive prospect.


Loose ends

I only had a chance to see about 1 1/2 spring practices after taking over the football beat, but here are some leftovers from my notepad:

–Much is being made about the cornerback position made possible by Daymeion Hughes’ departure. Darian Hagan probably made the biggest impact during the spring, but defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said he’d like to use more than just two cornerbacks on a regular basis. He said he thought Hughes and Syd’Quan Thompson may have worn down a bit last season after playing so many snaps. With an impressive collection of young talent in their secondary, Gregory may have the luxury of rotating more players on to the field.

–Even with Cal’s strong linebacking corps, I’d expect Eddie Young to be in the mix for some playing time. He looked like a playmaker.

–The person who sticks out on the field the most isn’t even playing this season — wide receiever Nyan Boateng. The guy looks like he will be an absolute stud when he’s eligible in 2008.


Something old, something new

Hello, everybody. This is Jonathan Okanes, your new Cal football beat writer. I’m taking over for Jay Heater, who recently left our newspaper. I’m taking over this blog as well, and am looking forward to offering you as much information and insight as possible. I’ll be checking in as much as I can and welcome your reaction and comments.

Just a little about me: Although I’m new to Cal football, I’m not new to Cal. I spent the past four years covering Cal’s basketball team. I’ve worked at the Times since 1998, starting out as a prep sports writer and covering almost everything under the sun since. I spent one season as a Stanford football beat writer, one with the Sharks, and have regularly covered the A’s and Giants over the years.

In addition to football, I will try to use the blog as a way to keep you updated on other Cal sports as well.

I’m looking forward to getting started. I’ll be in touch soon.




Cal fans are fortunate because I made a big mistake the first time I sat down in Jeff Tedford’s office. I could tell right away that he was something special and was going to make it big.

I told Jeff, “I’ve been here long before you came and I will be here long after you go.”

I was wrong.

That’s good for Cal fans because you have a wonderful coach and a man who could get you to the very top of the mountain without sacrificing the ideals you hold so dear. I knew the NFL would come calling, and unlike Steve Mariucci, he turned them down.

Myself, I have decided to go after some new challenges after 26 years. Today is my last day at the Times.

It’s been a great and wonderful ride and I will forever be thankful to Cal fans for their enthusiam and pure joy. Other programs have fans in greater numbers, but I have found none that rival the Cal fans in terms of showing their pride and insisting on honor in the pursuit of success.

I have had far too many wonderful times covering Cal sports to list them all. I always will remember Kyle Boller’s final big game where the crowd carried him off the field. He had been through so much adversity and was presented a day that will live in his, and my, memory forever.

There were so many other special moments, too many to mention.

I still remember covering Keith Gilbertson, a wonderful man who wore his heart on his sleeve. In Gilby’s world, you were either for him or against him. I can’t begin to tell you how many times he cussed at me. It was a time when I was usually the only reporter at practice. But we developed a friendship that I think was strained a bit when Gilby lost his job. As a reporter, I had to do my job, and it was tough. Years later, when he landed the head job at Washington, he shook my hand and told me he wasn’t so thin skinned anymore.

Steve Mariucci came through and was gone in a heartbeat. He went to the gold and got it.

Tom Holmoe was next and it boggles my mind that some of the fans were so cruel to him. Ultimately, Tom failed as a head coach in terms of wins or losses. But he could coach my son anytime. When I wrote the story about Tom getting the head job, I asked his wife to describe him. She said, “He is the best man I know.” If someone asked me about Tom now, I would say, “He is the best man I know.” I will leave it at that.

Jeff took over and Cal took off. He is a special man, driven, a perfectionist. Believe me, Cal fans could grumble all they want last year when Cal slumped a bit late in the season. Nobody felt worse than coach Tedford. He will get it done, all the way, if he gets the chance. Fans are so fickle at times, and that can be tough on a man. But I think he is going to stay the course in Berkeley.

As far as the athletes, wow. What a great group of young men. From guys like quarterback D’Andre Farr, who never realized his dream of playing and yet stayed and got a scholarship, to Sekou Sanyika, to Brian Wethers, to Nick Harris, to Ryan O’Callaghan, to …

And a special thank you to all the other special people. The assistants who give so much of their time to young men without the fanfare or pay that drives head coaches. To guys like Bud Turner, who actually has blue in his veins. He is a wonderful man and in some ways I worry about him because if Cal does go to the Rose Bowl, he probably will drop dead the next day.

I’ve had great times here, and I have gone through some tough times personally where the Cal family was very good to me. It’s been a joy to meet people such as David Ortega, Greg and Susie Overholtzer, Adam Duritz and Muhammad Muqtar, who can best be summed up by the word Honor.

And a final special thanks to all the other beat writers, who made this job seem like a game to me. I still remember the old road trips, having a great dinner with writers such as Jeff Faraudo, Ron Bergman, Sam Chi, Bruce Adams and Jake Curtis, and all the time wondering what the heck they had in their story the next day that I might not have written. It was a special time.

So to all, thank you. My personal email is ht9j@aol.com so feel free to drop me a note.