Football: Training camp preview — receivers

WHAT WE KNOW: That the Bears have a good starting point with their returning starting wide receivers. Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen should be one of the best tandems in the Pac-12. Jones has been a consistent threat the past couple years, albeit not spectacular. He doesn’t have the kind of explosiveness that keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night but has good hands and knows how to go up and get it. Allen clearly showed immense potential last season, although his best games were against subpar competition. Still, when he was healthy, he was very productive for a true freshman. With his first spring practice under his belt, Allen should be able to do even more this fall. Cal should feel very comfortable with its tight end depth, with starter Anthony Miller and backup Spencer Ladner returning. Jarrett Sparks, Jacob Wark and Spencer Hagan all provide depth. Ladner needs to prove he can stay healthy this fall. Sparks didn’t practice this spring because of an injury so his status will be monitored. And Hagan opened some eyes with a good spring after converting from wide receiver. He was supposed to have spent the summer bulking up his frame, so we’ll see how his body has changed this fall.

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: What the WR depth will look like after Jones and Allen. Senior Michael Calvin had a pretty good spring, but all the reports last summer was how strong he looked during the offseason but he still didn’t produce. This is Calvin’s last chance; he doesn’t appear to have ever mentally recovered from his ACL injury in 2008. This training camp will be the most important three weeks of his career. Redshirt freshman Kaelin Clay showed promise during the spring and is Cal’s fastest player. As good as Jones and Allen are, they can’t stretch the field like Clay has the potential to do. How good is incoming freshman Maurice Harris (Allen’s cousin)? Since the depth behind the two starters is unsettled, he may have a chance to get in the rotation immediately. And what about Coleman Edmond? He may be in the mix as a kick returner, but can he produce as a receiver?

IN SUMMATION: Jeff Tedford says the wide receiver position group is one of the strongest on the team. There’s no question you can say that when it comes to the starters. But there are questions about depth. Maybe Clay will become the home run threat the Bears need. Maybe Calvin will finally become a consistent producer. Maybe Edmond can contribute. It sure would have been nice for Cal to have Tevin Carter still on the team entering this fall. He would have given the Bears another potential player who could develop. Again, Cal should feel good about the tight ends. But the Bears and their re-united offensive staff now have to find a way to get them more involved in the offense.

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

    WR play is dependent upon good QB play. Just look at USC Barkley and Woods are an incredible combo. You guys should know from last year.

  • MoreSanctionsComing

    Maybe the Barkley/Woods combo can take the Trojans to a conference champio- oh wait… they are banned from that due to cheating.

    Well then, maybe the awesome Barkley/Woods combo can get the team a win in a bowl ga- oh wait, they are banned from those due to cheating also.

    I have come to a conclusion. The USC football team would do much better for itself if it stopped cheating.

  • MoreSanctionsComing

    When you think about USC you have to ask:

    How much cheating should be tolerated before a team is permanently disbanded by the NCAA? When is enough enough?

  • charlie

    Nice write up.

    I have to agree w/ MoreNCsarecoming…WR play depends on the QB play, which in turn depends on the O-line play. With a new o-line coach and a new QB, Cal should be better off offensively this year…hence, so should the WR play. Jone and Allen are good receivers. Cal’s TEs are solid. I think the entire offense will be better this year.

  • MoreSanctionsComing

    It’s a bad idea to agree with MoreNCsarecoming, even in the most abstract sense. This person is a troll who is not critiquing the team the way you are, but bashing the team.

    This is the worst part of having such a pervasive troll here. Any fan might want to critique the team they love, and might have some honest criticism of it. However, that’s difficult to do honestly when you have a rabble rouser standing on the sidelines ready to scream about how much the team sucks and that your critique is proof. It’s one of the many ways that JO allows the troll to ruin this board.

  • RandyBear

    Great to see all that talent and depth at tight end.

    TOO BAD WE NEVER USE HIM! Cal only goes to their TE and FB about once a game! Every time I watch successful teams, they ALWAYS mix in their TE’s and Fullback with great effectiveness. Cal hardly EVERY uses their TE’s and FB’s (apart from blocking). Until we do, defenses will continue to stack the box and make it very difficult for our running back.

  • GOGO Bears

    Hey Sanctions — the SFgate just blocked our SC friend in his fatadvisor screen name. I gues they had enough.

  • MoreSanctionsComing

    Wish JO would do the same here.

    Hey Sanctions — the SFgate just blocked our SC friend in his fatadvisor screen name. I gues they had enough.

  • Steve W

    None of those receivers makes my heart go aflitter. Marvin Jones has to show he can cure his bad case of dropsies, and he does not seem to have the ability to break from the pack. Keenan Allen is still very much unproven. I am always leary of multi-purpose players who might have been better on defense.

    The fact of the matter is that only two Cal wide receivers have struck fear in the hearts of D-Backs over the past 25 years. They are DeSean Jackson of the most recent era and Sean Dawkins of the Bruce Snyder era. Both of those guys had break-away speed and made their mark in the NFL. No one else comes to mind other than possession receivers like Bobby Shaw, Robert Jordan, Lavelle Hawkins and Dameane Douglas.

  • covinared

    have you forgotten Iwozeke(sp.)? Chase Lyman? Macarthur?

  • GOGO Bears

    Considering that McArthur broke Douglas’ records, he certainly should be on the list of those who made fear in the hearts of others. Not sure I’d put Lyman up there, however.

  • D-MO

    Macarthur his senior year was about as dominant a WR can have. Though he did have a great QB throwing to him…

  • covinared

    Lyman was dominate in the insight bowl and until he got hurt in the 2004 sc game. he was big, fast and good over the middle. he struck fear when he played.