Four weeks before the season kicks off, the Golden Bears held their first practice Saturday under cool, gray skies . . . and even a few raindrops.
The Bears practiced for about two hours and coach Jeff Tedford was happy with the tempo, the energy and the fact that his freshman obviously had read the playbook and were ready to go.
Sophomore linebacker Cecil Whiteside, reinstated by Tedford this week after being dismissed from the program May 24 for violation of unspecified team rules, was on the field with his teammates. Tedford explained that everyone deserves a second chance and that Whiteside now appreciates where he is.
Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt was due to arrive in the Bay Area on Saturday, Tedford said, and will practice Sunday afternoon after completing paperwork and a physical.
A few observations after Saturday’s workout . . .
– As quarterback Zach Maynard told reporters afterward, the freshman wideouts are fast. Especially Bryce Treggs, who went the distance in a blue after one long reception. “He’s a lot faster than I was,” said his dad, former Cal receiver Brian Treggs, who watched practice along with Bryce’s grandfather and great-uncle.
– Maynard seemed composed during practice and at ease afterward. He said he’s nearly finished with summer school and confirmed that everything has gone well.
– Freshman offensive tackle Freddie Tagaloa, running with the third team during drills, is huge. He’s listed as 6-foot-9 (perhaps the tallest Cal football player ever) and 340 pounds. An athletic department spokesman said those numbers are pretty accurate.
– Freshman punter Cole Leininger boomed several kicks practically into the low-hanging fog over Witter Field. Tedford said it was the first time he’d seen Leininger punt since he arrived in Berkeley, and he was impressed. Tedford offered the usual disclaimers — no defense rushing him, no crowd applying pressure — but the coach was smiling.
– Tedford reiterated that the offensive line will be a work in progress, with lots of interchangeable parts early in fall camp. But here’s the group that lined up with the first team on Saturday: LT Tyler Rigsbee, LG Jordan Rigsbee, C Brian Schwenke, RG Geoffrey Gibson, RT Matt Summers-Gavin.
– Senior fullback Eric Stevens, projected as a starter last season before suffering a knee inury in fall camp, practiced for the first time in nearly a year. Stevens sat out spring ball while completing rehab.