Football: Training camp issues — will the receivers improve?

The lack of a passing game last season was the fault of many — inconsistent quarterback play, injuries along the offensive line and lack of playmaking ability from the receivers. Perhaps the biggest issue facing Cal this fall is whether it can find at least one go-to receiver that can be counted on to produce.

Nyan Boateng and Verran Tucker each flashed samples of their potential last season, but neither was a consistent threat. Both players, like almost all of their receivers, were playing a full season of Division I football for the first time. Having one year of experience will undoubtedly help, but it remains to be seen if they have the talent to emerge as big-time receivers.

At this time last year, the general consensus was that Michael Calvin would emerge as a big-play receiver. He came to Cal with big expectations and had a great year on scout team. But a toe injury, followed by a torn ACL, prevented him from ever getting going. Calvin is fully healthy now but may take awhile to return to his old form, both physically and mentally.

Many eyes will be on Marvin Jones this fall. Jones was the Bears’ top receiver in the spring and may have more potential than any receiver on the roster. If he continues his rate of improvement from the spring, he could be ready for a breakout season.

Alex Lagemann also was a revelation during the spring and is definitely in the mix for a starting role. A sprained toe limited his offseason work, but quarterback Kevin Riley told me that he was playing as well as he did in the spring before suffering the injury.

Jeremy Ross, who reportedly is emerging as a team leader, is also very much still in the plans. Like Boateng and Tucker, the Bears hope his one year of experience will translate into more on-field production.

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.

  • Tony

    JO, one thing I’m curious about: is there anyone in the receiving corp that has the ability to really separate and stretch the field? Notwithstanding the dropped balls, mis-run routes, and general inexperience, the one thing in particular that seemed lacking last year was a genuine deep threat. Is Marvin Jones perhaps that guy? I can only imagine how much this would benefit Jahvid, if there’s even one receiver whose deep threat capability would prevent teams from stuffing the box all the time.

  • Scotty Mon


    Thanks always for your updates. Hopefully we get Robert Woods next year.

  • George

    Thanks for the very informative updates, JO! You make the countdown to Maryland a little easier! Sounds like our receivers are determined to do a complete 180 from last year.

  • covinared

    I like the receivers, and can’t understand the lack of production. The problem with the 07 group is that none of them were tall over the middle guys that could stand up to the big db’s. In 08 only Morrah did that consistently. I think thats why the recruiting focus has been on the body type of these guys: all tall. We need a guy who can outreach the tall dbs and lbs of the elite teams and is not afraid to catch the short post over the middle: ie Lyman and Mckonnen. Hawkins did that role but missed a few key catches. I think Lageman and Boateng will end up being the 3rd and 7-12 go to guys.

  • covinared

    Ross can do it as well. He was very good all around last year.

  • Jan K Oski

    Cov, are you kidding me? Boatang a good 3rd down converter? I have faith in that he can improve, but the man had butter fingers last year. I’d put an unknown quantity like Calvin before him, since we haven’t seen a history of dropped passes.

    Also, Ross was great at blocking like Boatang, but he rarely earned a “very good” rating in a game.

    My money is with Lageman, Calvin, Tucker and Jones as a four man rotation. The others will provide depth.

    Go BEARS!

  • covinared

    I have faith in what i saw that they will improve. was it them or the qbs? Boateng dropped 2 in key situations against msu last year, but did well after that. this group is big and fast. A good qb will excel with them.

  • iamalcindor

    It doesn’t matter how good Burqalee receivers will get. As long as the Beers have a lousy QB, good WR talent will continue to get wasted

  • VatoZapato

    Our WRs will be solid this year baby!

  • iamalcindor


    Can you ask Tedford or comment yourself why BURQAlee only has 1 commit in ESPN150 coming at whopping 146th place, all while U$C, pucla, Oregon and even Stanfurd with commits ranked way higher than any of BURQAlee’s players?

  • Mustang man

    Bring Back Geoff

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Tony, I think that’s one of the most important question facing the offense. Certainly, nobody exhibited that ability last season. I have a feeling the team is hoping that Jones emerges as that guy.

  • Pete Carroll

    Any possibility they’ll run more two-tailback sets? Two of the fastest guys on the team are Best and Vereen. That gives them another option at receiver.

  • Haashole


    Another thing I’m curious about — why on Earth does the CC Times still allow iamalcindor (purportedly Amy under this and various other names) to continue to troll this board? It is offensive on 3 levels in this case: (a) this quote (for obvious reasons): “It doesn’t matter how good Burqalee receivers will get. As long as the Beers have a lousy QB, good WR talent will continue to get wasted”; (b) the troll’s constant misspelling of Berkeley; and (c) the obvious racial connotations associated therewith.

  • Calduke

    Rivals.com recruiting rankings:

    11 Stanford
    12 USC
    16 Cal
    26 Washington
    30 UCLA
    41 Oregon

    None of the above teams have a 5-star recruit

    USC has 7 4-star recruits
    Cal has 6
    Stanford 4
    Washington 3
    UCLA 3
    Oregon 2

    Cal has an average 3.67 stars per recruit
    This is tied for third in the nation behind Texas & Florida.

    Tedford has brought in quality recruits, so far, NOW,
    the Bears need to come up with a BIG offensive year to attract the quality offensive players.The 9 recruits
    represent a good nucleus, need more to come

  • Calduke

    Regarding rankings;

    First – decide what opinion/bias you want to justify

    second – go review sports-related sites and select the ranking/data that has the appropriate info to prove your opinion/bias. There’s a site out there for any point you want to expound.

  • covinared

    these recruiting rankings are relevant to talent that may make a difference in 3-4 years. Many five stars are busts. Many two stars are studs. Right now, who cares about that with the season so close except those only intent on making trouble?

  • covinared

    the subject is on this years receivers. someone makes a negative comment on our progress with recruits who have not committed and will not for six months nor likely contribute for three years. a Ayoob was a five star, Constanza a four star. Mohammed and Arrington two stars. Oregon State beats us with a roster of 2-3 star recruits. you call me a fool.

  • Calduke

    The star ratings are worthless in many cases.
    However, there are many recruits that can contribute
    in only 1-2 years

    The subject IS on this year’s receivers. What receivers were recruited from 2009 and the current 2010 class?

  • Calduke
  • CalBandGreat

    I’ve stopped reading this blog on a regular basis because they continue to let a troll dominate the comments with false information.


    CalBandGreat Says:
    August 6th, 2009 at 7:53 pm
    I’ve stopped reading this blog on a regular basis because they continue to let a troll dominate the comments with false information.

    It’s not false information. It’s an opinion, and you don’t like it because it is different from yours. Say what you will, but MOST of MoreNC’s comments are football related, which is more than I can say for Cal fans, including several from this blog. It’s not his fault that Cal’s on the field performance has proved him right again and again.
    Want to see some REAL unsolicited, non football related attacks and sweeping generalizations? Check out the ESPN blog, wait for an article on USC to show up, and enjoy the show.

  • Calduke

    Speedy Stockon WR makes his decision


  • Cal just got 2 commits today at WR so that makes 3 coming in next year…we’ll be fine

  • Calduke

    I guess I can stop whining about 2009/2010 receivers.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    So you have 3 WRs now that we didn’t want. They are not elite receivers. Why can’t BURQAlee recruit elite WRs with the exception of MeSean. It is because your QBs have been mediocre to busts and no receiver wants to spend his college career going over the middle getting de helmetted by Taylor Mays and Keith Ellison.