Cal football: Spring review — running backs

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Covaughn DeBoskie. He didn’t get a whole lot of looks as a freshman because he wasn’t on scout team and was also the fourth-string running back. That meant on-field activity was limited. With Jahvid Best out with an injury and Tracy Slocum no longer in the program, DeBoskie suddenly was the Bears’ No. 2 tailback in the spring. And DeBoskie made an impression. He ran hard with good explosiveness, especially on the perimeter and in space. DeBoskie still needs to work on running between the tackles, but he certainly opened some eyes with his performance this spring. With injuries always a concern at the running back position, it looks as though the Bears have just that much more depth at a position where Best and Shane Vereen already give them a formidable 1-2 punch.

WORK TO DO: John Tyndall. He was considered possibly the leading candidate for the fullback job after last season but now appears to be behind Brian Holley and Will Kapp on the depth chart. Tydnall is a good special teams player but will have his work cut out for him in the fall to become the team’s top fullback.

WHERE WE STAND: There’s no deep analysis needed here. We all know Best will be the featured tailback and one of the best in the country if he is healthy. His absence this spring was good for Vereen and DeBoskie. Vereen was steady but not spectacular in the spring, but he proved last season he is a valuable backup. It will be interesting to see if DeBoskie pushed Vereen at all for some second team reps. Vereen is incredibly dependable and one of the most respected players on the team by both coaches and teammates.

MOVING FORWARD: Best said he expects to be completely healthy well before the start of training camp. He hopes to be ready in time for offseason conditioning workouts, which start around the end of June. When the fall comes around, Best will be the most overexposed offensive player on the West Coast. Even if he is completely healthy, which everyone expects, the coaches still may limit him a bit during camp. They do that even when he isn’t injured, simply to protect their star player. Again, that will help Vereen and DeBoskie. There’s no reason to believe Vereen won’t once again get his occassional chances as a backup. He won’t simply be waiting in case Best gets hurt. The Bears will use him.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Jan K Oski

    Hey JO, great reviews! Fortunately, for Tyndall he has time on his side to learn the system and bring his play to full speed. While I love the story-line on Kapp, he reads to be too lite for the bigger DEs and LBs. If Holley and Tyndall can’t do it, maybe walk-on Jon Harris can.

    What’s with BearTalk’s link on the Cal CC Times page? It wasn’t there last weekend, and it is now a single click to a Jay Heater blog entry on Desean. Kick those IT guys in the sheen for me! Go BEARS!

  • CalFBFan

    You know, I wonder if Vereen was running extra careful to make sure he could participate in track. His performance this spring certainly seems out of character.

  • AlSo

    I’m pretty sure Cal will have the fastest running back trio in the nation. Covaughn, Best, and Vereen all run 4.3s

  • Calduke

    Shane ran a 10.66 100-meters this past weekend.
    My guess is he is the fastest member of the team.
    The speed work may be a benefit to him??

  • Best is a BEAST

    There is no way Shane is faster than Best. He was a high school state champion in the 100 if I’m not mistaken and that is coming from a guy who ran with Jones-Drew in high school.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Cal, Best has an edge on Vereen in speed, but there’s no question Vereen can be a gamebreaker as well.

  • Calduke

    Jonathan – I know I took a chance on championing Shane as the fastest, but, what do you think Best’s
    100-meter time is now?
    Granted, Best was the State champion 3 years ago, but, injuries and recup time have taken its toll.

  • Boris

    Best was running sub 10.4 in high school, and there’s no way he has slowed down since then. He beats Shane easily.

  • Stumpy Joe

    I think you’ve been drinking. There is no way Best is running a 10.4 for quite some time. Due to injuries and football training, he’ll have to be healthy for 8-10 months with focused speed training before he could even approach that time again.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Cal, I don’t know what Best’s 100 time is, but trust me: He’s faster than Vereen. Maybe that’s just football speed, but he’s faster.

  • Jan K Oski

    Oh jeez! Has the Al Davis Syndrome gotten to some Bear fans? Straight a head speed doesn’t translate into football speed, so who cares? So long as Best can breakaway from the dbs and continue to score on those long runs, this is one Bear fan who will be happy. With the bigger WR blocking downfield, we’ll be watching a few of them. I guarantee it.

    Go BEARS!

  • Calduke

    OK everyone.

    Vereen is faster.
    Best is quicker.

    Both are fast and quick enough to do the job.

  • Calduke

    As a follow up to Best/Vereen;

    Speed won’t be an issue if the OL is manhandled like it was at the Spring scrimmage.