By Jonathan Okanes
Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 at 1:03 pm in off-season stuff.
HELPED HIS CAUSE: Marvin Jones. The sophomore-to-be emerged as the Bears’ top receiver in the spring. This really doesn’t come as a surprise. The argument could be made that Jones was the most talented receiver on the roster last season, but a knee injury limited his true freshman season. Jones is healthy now and looked sharp in the spring. Despite the fact Cal has its top three receivers back from last year, Jones should enter fall camp as the team’s top pass-catching threat.
WORK TO DO: Verran Tucker. The JC transfer was the Bears’ second-leading pass-catcher among wide receivers last season, but he didn’t practice in the spring to focus on academics. With Jones and Alex Lagemann coming on, and with Michael Calvin expected to be fully recovered from a knee injury by the fall, Tucker’s status as a starter could be in jeopardy.
WHERE WE STAND: This is a position with some of the most uncertainty on the team. Again, the Bears’ top three receivers are back, but it wasn’t as though Tucker, Nyan Boateng and Jeremy Ross dominated last year. None of the three caught more than 30 passes. Ross made a couple of impact plays during the spring but didn’t stand out like Jones and Lagemann did. Boateng didn’t do much, either. On the post-spring depth chart, Jones and Lagemann are now listed as starters over Tucker and Ross. It’s hard to imagine Jones not being a starter at this point. Other than that, there could be several receivers competing for playing time in the fall. The tight end position is also in a state of flux with the shoulder injury to Tad Smith. Anthony Miller got a lot of first team reps late in the spring after Smith went down, and he figured to push for a starting role as well. Smith is expected back by the start of fall camp and will have to contend with Miller and Spencer Ladner for the job.
MOVING FORWARD: Coach Jeff Tedford said he was happy with how Tucker handled his business during the spring. Tucker’s absence didn’t necessarily move him down the pecking order, but it allowed players such as Jones and Lagemann to move up it. Tucker and Ross’ experience should give them a slight edge in fall camp. Calvin is a wild-card. He was expected to be the Bears’ top receiver last season but never got going because of a sprained toe and then ultimately a torn ACL. When healthy, he still has the talent to potentially be an impact reciever. Boateng’s spot as a starter isn’t a sure thing, either. He needs to improve on separating from cornerbacks and also cure a recurring case of the drops.