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Football: Damariay Drew arrested, suspended

Cal defensive back Damariay Drew has been suspended indefinitely from the team by the athletic department after a felony arrest this week for allegedly punching a man and kicking his dog.

Drew, a 20-year-old sophomore from Livermore, was arrested by Berkeley police detectives on Thursday on charges of battery with serious bodily injury and inflicting great bodily injury in the commission of a felony.

He was in custody at the Berkeley city jail Friday (on $100,000 bail), according to jail records.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in Oakland court on Monday.

The alleged incident took place Tuesday at 2:50 p.m. in the 2700 block of Bancroft Way, where a victim reported his dog had been kicked and he had been punched several times, according to the Berkeley police report.

The suspect had left by the time police arrived on the scene, the report said. After further investigation, police arrested Drew on Thursday.

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Football: Bears to join NFL draft party late

The NFL draft begins with the first round Thursday, then the second and third rounds on Friday.

On Saturday, when players are selected in the fourth through seventh rounds, Cal will check in.

The first first time since 2006, the Golden Bears are not expected to have a player selected in the first three rounds of the draft. Only twice since 1996 — in ’04 and ’06 — has Cal been shut out of the first three rounds.

Here’s a look at Cal’s draft prospects and when they are projected to be chosen:

BRENDAN BIGELOW, RB: Bigelow’s career was a long tease that rarely produced eye-catching results. The exception was a spectaculr four-carry, 160-yard game with two long touchdowns at Ohio State in 2012. That fueled a sophomore campaign in which Bigelow averaged 9.1 yards per carry on 44 attempts. But he never developed any consistency or gained the confidence of two different coaching staffs. Bigelow averaged 4.0 yards per carry last fall while struggling a bit after the latest in a series of knee surgeries. The 22-year-old Fresno native couldn’t even help himself at Cal’s Pro Day, running a 4.41 hand-timed 40 while struggling with a tweaked hamstring. Projection: Free agent.

DEANDRE COLEMAN, DT: The 6-5, 309-pounder from Seattle had a steady, unspectacular career for the Bears. He had 40 tackles, including nine for losses, as a senior. Coleman totaled 7.5 career sacks. The 23-year-old participated in the postseason Senior Bowl all-star game. Projection: Rounds 5-7.

VINCENZO D’AMATO, PK: Cal has a history of sending kickers to the NFL — Doug Brien, Ryan Longwell, Mick Luckhurst, Ray Wersching — and D’Amato has a chance. He converted 17 of 20 field goals last season, and 40 of 55 for his career. He also made 92 of 96 PAT attempts and scored 212 career points. The 6-1, 250-pounder from Orange County seems likely to get a camp invite. Projection: Free agent.

KHAIRI FORTT, ILB: The 6-2, 240-pounder from Massachusetts had 64 tackles last fall in his only Cal season after transferring from Penn State. The 22-year-old performed well at the NFL combine, boosting his stock after Cal’s poor season. NFL scout Greg Cosell said on KNBR this week he likes what he saw while watching tape of Fortt, calling him a fairly complete linebacker prospect. Projection: Rounds 4-6.

KAM JACKSON, CB: You have to wonder why Jackson, still just 20 years old, decided it was time to turn pro, because it seems unlikely he will be drafted. He hasn’t wowed anyone with his 5-9, 175-pound frame and he had a somewhat ordinary junior season with 42 tackles, six pass breakups and just one interception. Jackson’s big game at Cal was a three-pick performance against UCLA in 2012. Cal could have used him next fall and he might have helped himself by playing another college season. Projection: Free agent.

CHRIS McCAIN, DE/OLB: At 6-6, 250, McCain looks the part. But he was erratic through his career at Cal, partly because he struggled academically. He started 18 games, played in 24 and totaled 90 tackles, including 14.5 for loss and 5.0 sacks. But four games into last season, the 22-year-old from Greensboro, N.C., was dismissed from the team for conduct detrimental to the team. Someone may look at his measureables and decide McCain is worth a try. If that happens, it’ll be up to him. Projection: Free agent.

VILIAMI MOALA, DT: The 6-2, 315-pounder from Sacramento entered the draft after his junior season, during which he started in 11 of 12 games and had a career-high 37 tackles. The 21-year-old played 35 career games for the Bears. Projection: Free agent.

RICHARD RODGERS, TE: Displaced from his natural position last season because the Bears’ offense doesn’t use a tight end, the 6-4, 257-pound Rodgers caught 39 passes for 608 yards as a slot receiver. The 22-year-old somewhat relucantly was briefly used as a power back — an experiment that was unsuccessful and short-lived. NFL scouts apparently have some questions about Rodgers’ blocking skills. Projection: Rounds 6-7.

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Football: APR score jumps after 2013 lowpoint

Cal’s Academic Performance Rate (APR) score for football, which last year had a four-year average that ranked worst in the Pac-12 Conference, will inch higher with results released next week after a substantial hike in its most recent one-year score.

The football team’s 2012-13 score of 969 represents a huge improvement from the 2011-12 single-year score of 923, and boosts Cal’s four-year average from 935 to 938. That mark may still be lowest in the Pac-12 because the program’s low scores from the previous three years remain part of the equation.

The NCAA gave Cal permission to release APR scores for football ahead of its May 14 unveiling of results for all schools and sports nationwide.

Cal men’s basketball will necessarily see a drop in its four-year average because a perfect 1,000 score from 2008-09 is being displaced by the latest single-season mark.

The APR measures academic eligibility and retention or graduation. It is different than the Graduation Success Rate results, which are revealed each fall and strictly charts graduation figures.

Athletic director Sandy Barbour told a media roundtable Monday that the improvements are the result of changes in support structure and the academic culture within the athletic department.

“It’s every day, everything you say to them,” said Barbour, explaining the new emphasis.

Barbour said Cal’s low scores primarily reflected a failure to by the athletic department to require athletes to meet expectations. “I do not lay this on the student-athlete.”

Credit for the improved 2012-13 football marks is shared by both former coach Jeff Tedford, fired after the 2012 season, and new coach Sonny Dykes, who took over before the 2013 spring semester.

The Chancellor’s Task Force for Athletics and Academics has worked since last fall to review the situation and provide suggestions. Meg Conkey, professor emerita for anthropology, serves as chair for the task force, composed of faculty, administrators, coaches, alumni and current students, including football player Stefan McClure.

The task force will submit its report to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks late next month.

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Football: Bears add DT to 2014 incoming class

Cal added depth and size to a position that needs both, signing 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle Chris Palmer of Lawrenceville, Ga., to a financial aid agreement.

Palmer played high school ball at Collins Hill High School in the Atlanta in the fall of 2011 and 2012 and is attending the Naval Preparatory School this year.

As the Bears finished spring ball a week ago, the team’s top four defensive tackles have never played in a major college game. Junior Mustafa Jalil, who sat out spring ball, is expected back in August after missing last season due to a knee injury. And sophomore Jacobi Hunter’s status is in question after he took personal leave from the team a couple weeks ago.

Palmer earned preseason All-State honors prior to his senior season and played in the Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Football Game. He was a second-team All-Region selection in 2011.

“We are excited to have Chris as part of the Cal football program,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “He’s a good fit for us both academically and athletically. On the field, he will give us some size inside. We were fortunate to find him.”

Palmer’s addition boosts Cal’s 2014 class to 23 players, class 13 of them on the defensive side of the ball.

 

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Football: Bears get commitment from 3-star WR but lose elite QB prospect to Arizona State

Cal got its third verbal commitment in the class of 2015 when three-star wide receiver Greyson Bankhead of Centennial-Corona picked the Bears over SMU and Arizona, according to Scout.com.

A 5-foot-9, 155-pounder, Bankhead caught 73 passes for 1,031 yards on the same Centennial team that is sending running back Tre Watson to Berkeley this fall.

Meanwhile, Cal recruiting target Brady White, rated the nation’s No. 9 quarterback prospect in the class of 2015 by Scout.com, announced he will attend Arizona State. 

White, from Hart-Newhall — the same high school that produced Joe Kapp — had narrowed his choices to ASU, Cal and Oregon before choosing the Sun Devils.

White passed for 4,535 yards and 41 touchdowns while rushing for 320 yards and nine more scores as a junior last season.

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Football: Dykes sees success model in A’s

As he aspires to build his football program, coach Sonny Dykes doesn’t need to look far to find a model for success.

“There’s a lot of different ways to win in football and sports in general,” he said Tuesday during a media briefing, three days after the close of spring workouts.

“The Yankees have won by having the biggest payroll and the biggest superstars. And the A’s have won by having the smallest payroll, no superstars and a great team.

“You have to figure out who you are. I think right now we’re a little bit more like the A’s than the Yankees. And that’s fine.”

What that means to Dykes and the Bears a year after staggering to a 1-11 record is creating a culture where the whole is bigger than its parts. Cal’s roster isn’t bulging with five-star recruits, but can achieve beyond those expectations, Dykes said.

“We’ve got to kind of embrace that and buy into that. I just believe that is how you sustain a program, by having good people and creating a good culture and getting guys to play hard for each other on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

“I think we’re much further along than we were, but I’m not quite sure we’re there yet.”

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Football: Bears encouraged after spring finale

Encouraged but hardly satisfied, Cal closed its spring workouts Saturday with an 86-play scrimmage in front of an announced crowd of 2,500 fans at Memorial Stadium.

Five months after after completing an historically bad 1-11 season, the Bears are focused on their future, including their Aug. 30 season opener at Northwestern.

Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff said the team is ready to make a leap forward. “We’re done with everything that had to do with last year,” he said. “We’re a brand new team now and we’re ready to go.”

Coach Sonny Dykes has called the Bears a work in progress, and he continues to see good and bad.

“I thought we got better,” Dykes said of his team’s work over the past four weeks. “Our guys are still learning what it takes to win at this level. I’m not sure we completely understand that yet.

“I certainly like where we’re headed, but we still have a long way to go.”

The defense had the upper hand early on Saturday, prompting defensive end Brennan Scarlett to pronounce, “We were dominating.” The offense was more effective in the second half, Dykes noted.

Goff, just 5 for 11 for 27 yards in the first half, was 9 for 12 for 143 yards the rest of the way. He had an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Lawler and a 37-yard completion to Bryce Treggs, who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch.
 
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Football: All systems go in Sebastian’s comeback

Suddenly, things are looking up for Avery Sebastian.

When we last saw Sebastian on game day, he was being carted off the turf after tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2013 opener against Northwestern. That catastrophe came on the heels of suffering a concussion during fall camp that was scary enough an ambulance rolled into Memorial Stadium to take him to the hospital.

But the redshirt junior safety from McDonough, Ga., is on his way back. He participated in Cal’s spring workouts, doing whatever he felt his body would allow, and expects to be in the mix Saturday (11 a.m.) when the Bears hold their spring game.

Plus, by the end of this spring semester he will be just one class shy of earning his degree in American studies.

That will give Sebastian an array of options. He plans to take just a single class in the fall, allowing him to concentrate on all things football.

In the meantime, he intends to take the GRE this summer to become eligible for grad school. Asked about his plans for the fall of 2015, when he’d be able to play his final football season, Sebastian admitted, “I have not thought that far.”

Unspoken is the possibility he could enter the NFL draft in 2015. But he wants to study broadcast journalism and can easily envision himself doing so at Cal.

“You can’t beat a Berkeley education, so if I have that opportunity to do that again (as a grad student), the option’s definitely there,” Sebastian said after practice Wednesday.

Right now, Sebastian is just happy to be healthy once again.

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