Took a break from vacation to attend the annual Tiny Bates banquet tonight in Sacramento. This is always a very nice event that honors the best Cal football player from the Sacramento area each year. This year’s winner was wide receiver/punt returner Jeremy Ross, who seemed sincerely awed to receive the award.
Ross has been training hard since the end of the season, hoping to get a look from the NFL. He spent some extended time at a training facility on the East Coast and is now back in California in preparation for Cal’s Pro Day on March 9. Ross also is finishing up school and plans on graduating this May with a degree in Social Welfare.
The banquet is always attended by coach Jeff Tedford and athletic director Sandy Barbour. Barbour, as she usually does, talked extensively about the state of the athletic department, which of course included the recent news of reinstatement of sports as well as removal of others.
Tedford had some very nice things to say about Ross and then presented him with the plaque. Then Tedford gave his State-of-the-Program address.
Some of the highlights:
- Tedford talked about the highly rated recruiting class and said several players should be in the playing rotation immediately. He singled out nose tackle Viliama Moala, partly because he comes from Sacramento.
- While talking about the changes made to the coaching staff, he said the biggest impact felt so far has been with strength and conditioning. Tedford let longtime strength coach John Krazinski go after the season and replaced him with longtime basketball strength coach Mike Blasquez. Tedford said players simply “look different” and that the weight room has been hopping.
- Regarding the quarterback situation, Tedford said “I have no idea” who the starter will be.
- Tedford gave a vote of confidence to kicker Giorgio Tavecchio. He said Tavecchio is the starter going into spring practice and that he expects him to be more mentally tough now that he’s a senior
- Tedford said Isi Sofele is the Bears’ No. 1 running back. He said he didn’t know who the backup is, partly because Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Dasarte Yarnway and Trajuan Briggs are all coming off injuries. Tedford said if incoming freshman Brendan Bigelow can stay healthy, he will become another in the long line of standout running backs at Cal.
- Tedford said he’d like to whittle down the quarterback competition to the top three by the end of spring practice, but doesn’t expect to name a starter until the fall. He said Austin Hinder is probably not realistically in the mix because of his inexperience, but still will get a look. He said he’s looking forward to seeing what Zach Maynard can do, especially the running dimension he might bring to the offense.
Also, while Barbour wouldn’t confirm the finalization of Cal’s 2011 schedule, Tedford, in his remarks, said the Bears will indeed play at Colorado on Sept. 10 and host Presbyterian on Sept. 17.