Even though training camp technically ended Monday with the final scrimmage, Fan Appreciation Day always marks the unofficial end of camp. The Bears practiced in the morning then held a barbecue for players’ parents before heading down to Underhill Field for the event.
“I thought it was a good camp,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “I think we improved every day we were out here, which is the focus. Now the guys are ready to play.”
On the first day of camp, Tedford mentioned the great shape his players were in after spending the summer working with new strength and conditioning coach Mike Blasquez. He said he saw that work manifest itself on the field the past three weeks.
“You see great hustle, a lot of quickness,” Tedford said. “I thought we were much quicker in their shuttle runs and things like that. I think their work in the summer really paid off.”
Junior Isi Sofele is slated to be Cal’s starter at tailback this season. It’s a new role for Sofele, who has played just sparingly the past two seasons.
This marks the first year in quite a while that the Bears enter a season with a starting tailback who didn’t see much action in a reserve role previously. That being said, he began spring practice No. 1 on the depth chart and his status was never in doubt as no other backs posed a challenge
“There’s always competition, but there’s been nothing there that has put anybody ahead of him,” Tedford said. “We’re going to see. I have a lot of confidence in him, but anytime someone new goes in there, there’s a learning curve for when the lights go on and it’s game day. The adrenaline is flowing and things happen. It’s not his first time, but it’s his first time in an extended role.”
Tedford said the reason Sofele didn’t get more reps in games last season as Shane Vereen’s backup is because Vereen was stronger than some of his predecessors and was capable of carrying a big workload.
A couple other notes:
- Tedford said he anticipates wide receiver Kaelin Clay will play in the season-opener against Fresno State next Saturday. Clay is moving well and doesn’t appear to be bothered by his knee, which he injured on the first day of training camp and followed with minor surgery.
- Freshman wide receiver Maurice Harris is another 1-2 weeks away as he recovers from a knee bruise.