NOTE: This is the first of position-by-position reviews of spring practice.
HELPED HIS CAUSE: Zach Maynard. The transfer from Buffalo — and also the half-brother of wide receiver Keenan Allen — entered spring practice as the big wild card. Coach Jeff Tedford was intrigued by Maynard’s dual threat ability but hadn’t seen him on the field at Cal yet. It also remained to be seen how quickly Maynard would get comfortable with the Bears’ offense.
Maynard still has a long way to go, but it’s obvious he’s the quarterback of Cal’s immediate future. Maynard finished spring practice taking all the starter’s reps and Tedford has raved about his ability and development during the spring. Maynard displayed the escapability and running ability that Tedford wants to see, and the coach is excited about the potential of the offense with Maynard behind center.
WORK TO DO: Brock Mansion. You could really name either Mansion or Allan Bridgford here, because it appears either one has some ground to make up on Maynard. But since Mansion is going to be a fifth-year senior, the sense of urgency is greater. The limited experience Mansion received at the end of last season helped him this spring, but obviously not enough to go into the summer as Cal’s No. 1 guy. Mansion may be looking at fall camp as a competition for the backup job, where his experience could give him an edge.
WHERE WE STAND: Tedford is expected to make some kind of announcement this week regarding the quarterback situation. He likely will name Maynard the starter with a disclaimer that the position will still be competitive in the fall and nothing is ever set in stone. Or he could simply say Maynard enters the fall at the top of the depth chart without definitively naming him the starting quarterback. Either way, it appears it’s Maynard’s job to lose.
MOVING FORWARD: Maynard must now spend the summer earning respect from his teammates and turning into the leader of the offense. Remember that Maynard not only sat out last season, but he wasn’t even enrolled at Cal while he worked on his academics at Contra Costa College. So before spring started he hadn’t been in the locker room with his teammates. Maynard has a special kinship with Allen, which undoubtedly making this transition easier, but he has to continue to develop a trust and relationship with the other receivers on the team.