Cal Football: 5 Guys Who Need Great Spring Performances for the Golden Bears
Coming off of a mediocre 2011 season, Cal football has a decent incoming freshman class despite the flight of Tosh Lupoi and some prized recruits. Many of these freshmen will be threatening and challenging the upperclassmen for starting positions in the fall.
Here are five of the current Cal players who will need a strong training camp for a secure starting role in 2012.
Zach Maynard, QB
Zach Maynard had a year plagued with inconsistency in the past season, yet he did finish strong, closing out 2011 with completion percentages of 68.4, 69 and 73.1 percent in his last three games (via ESPN), which happened to be his most accurate performances of the year.
Though Maynard began to show promise, the recruitment and early enrollment of Zach Kline from Danville, California should throw some doubt into the quarterback position for Cal. Ranked the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the nation, Jeff Tedford will certainly be keeping an eye on which Zach has the best offseason.
Deandre Coleman, DE
Up-and-coming sophomore Mustafa Jalil is already looking to be the next elite end for the Golden Bears and greatly impressed Jeff Tedford and the coaching staff with his performance in the Big Game, leaving the other side of the line wide open. Coleman showed some potential but will still have to compete.
As a Cal football coach, this is not a competition of concern. In a feast-or-feast scenario, Coleman will have to compete for his job with fellow 4-star recruits from 2011. Todd Barr and Gabe King will both be gunning for more playing time, just like Coleman.
Josh Hill, CB
Cal has two good cornerbacks returning in 2012: senior Marc Anthony and the ever-improving junior, Steve Williams. Cal struggled at times in 2011 with spread offenses when defensive back depth was required. Hill is not a young player and currently sits as the third defensive back on the depth chart.
Entering his senior season, Hill will need to fight off prized recruit Cedric Dozier to secure time on the field, even as a backup.
David Wilkerson, LB
After the loss of the two most skilled, experienced linebackers to graduation, Cal will have to fill a major void in finding the next quarterback of the defense. Losing the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in Mychael Kendricks is a hit the Bears will have to endure, and of the younger linebackers, David Wilkerson has shown the least potential as a pass-rusher and may have to make the move to the inside.
As California Golden Blogs already noted, it is difficult to judge the young committee of linebackers through 2011 alone, but Cecil Whiteside and Chris McCain both developed as edge-rushers over the course of the year, and should only grow. The pressure will by on Wilkerson to step up and keep a hold of playing time from Michael Barton, the nation's No. 11 inside linebacker as ranked by Rivals.
Jim Michalczik, Offensive Line Coach
This list is not for players alone and the entire offense of the Golden Bears in 2012 relies upon the success of the offensive line. Losing star blockers Mitchell Schwartz and Matt Summers-Gavin, the offensive line needs to have an even better season, despite lesser-known contributors.
Offensive blocking is regarded as a product of coaching and discipline first above raw athleticism. As Ross Tucker, a former NFL lineman, discussed over a year ago, a superior offensive line is often overlooked; it extends beyond fleeting players and remains with a consistently skilled coach. Last season was disappointing for the Bears offense, who produced a pedestrian 4.6 yards per rushing attempt.
Jim Michalczik is entering his second year of his second stint with the Golden Bears and will hopefully cultivate an elite line similar to that of the Marshawn Lynch/J.J. Arrington glory days.