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Football: Spring preview — running backs

RETURNING STARTERS: None

WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR: Dasarte Yarnway

POSSIBLE SURPRISE: Trajuan Briggs

THE BREAKDOWN: Even with the loss of Jahvid Best, this is the deepest position on the team. With Shane Vereen, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Dasarte Yarnway, Isi Sofele and Trajuan Briggs, the Bears have a talented collection of tailbacks, albeit most of it is inexperienced.

One thing is for sure: Vereen is the undisputed starter at tailback. He has excelled the past two years as Best’s backup and was excellent when he took over as the starter following Best’s season-ending injury last season. Vereen has the talent and work ethic to lead the Pac-10 in rushing, although he will face some stiff competition next season with Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon’s LaMichael James.

Coach Jeff Tedford said Vereen probably won’t take too many reps in the spring. He was a battered man at the end of the season with knee, shoulder and rib injuries. And although he is completely healed, Tedford sees no reason to risk any other injuries to a player who really doesn’t need too many reps.

After Vereen, it will be a very compelling competition to see who fills out the rest of the depth chart. DeBoskie-Johnson has the most seniority of the other tailbacks, but the others should all compete for playing time. Briggs, an incoming freshman, enrolled in school early and will participate in the spring. He reminds some of former Cal star Marshawn Lynch.

“You can’t wait to get on the field and let them go and give them equal opportunity,” Tedford said. “You try to set the stage where they all get an equal chance with certain guys to show what they can do.”

Briggs missed all but one quarter of his senior season at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys with a fractured ankle, but is ready to go for the spring.

“It’s a different speed for him right now,” Tedford said. “He’s worked very hard and had a great attitude. He’s fitting in very well.”

The Bears will have to replace Brian Holley at fullback, but have a couple of good candidates in Will Kapp, Eric Stevens and John Tyndall.  Kapp got the most playing time of the three last season as Holley’s backup but Stevens showed promise during practices as the season went on.

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.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    It’s really really simple. You need an OL. You don’t have much of an OL. You don’t have much of a running game.

    You need a passing game to keep the oppositin from stacking the box. You don’t have much of a QB. You don’t have much of a running game.

  • uh oh.

    And you don’t have much of a personality, do you?

  • House

    Moron, Cal has had one of the best running games the past two seasons, and that’s with an average at best OL and QB. So you can understand how your assesment is pretty dumb. Great job though, stating that you need an OL to run the ball well, cause without you no one could have possibly guessed that.

  • Larry

    This loser is STILL trolling our board, wow what an exciting life.

    Anyway, Did Geurts leave the team after the 2009 season?

  • southseasbear

    Geurts left after the first game.

  • Calduke

    It seems like everytime there is a discussion about the Bears and success, injury concerns are involved.
    Now Veeren and Briggs. Briggs has been touted as a significant addition – he played one quarter last year!! Probably a redshirt candidate.

  • Dan

    Actually, the Guerts thing was a bit odd. If I recall, he was out, then came back, then left again after one game. So he has left ther tean twice. I liked him the little I saw of him. He really looked good in the spring open scrimmage, and he looked really good on the rare occasions when he saw playing time. Tough, hard nosed player.

    All I can say is that is VERY tough to be a walk on.

  • Juancho

    It must be impossibly hard to be a walk-on. It already seems ridiculously tough to be a student and a football player on scholarship. I was in the same major as Lorenzo Alexander back in the day, and I always used to tell the guy in class that I didn’t see how he managed school and all the practices and work outs he said they do. Especially b/c he did real well in class and was real bright – i.e., was typically involved in class discussions. I wonder if the walk ons get the same tutor benefits and same access to facilities?

  • http://www.bearswithfangs.com bearswithfangs

    From what I understand of the Geurts situation, Peter left the team shortly before the season started.

    The RB depth took a bit of a hit with Kevin Lewis and Langston Walker unable to play because of injury and an academic ineligibility.

    Tedford asked Geurts to return to help the team for just one game. It was understood it was a one game deal.

    Geurts obliged, and even got a carry for a 4 yards against Maryland.

  • Larry

    Thanks Bearswithfangs, I think your version sounds right.
    Not to nit-pick, but isn’t Langston Walker an NFL OL and a 2002 Cal grad? Langston Jackson is a SO RB currently for CAL. I’m sure that’s who you were thinking about.