Cal Football's Biggest Potential Breakout Stars for 2012

Daniel Mano HerberholzCorrespondent IMay 28, 2012

Cal Football's Biggest Potential Breakout Stars for 2012

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    Several years since their Top 25 prominence, the California Golden Bears look to swing back into things this season on the tail of a few talented players breaking out.

    The Bears have sent a multitude of players to the NFL in the last decade, and in 2012 several current players will show why they're the next crop of stars.

    Coach Jeff Tedford has made sure of it.

    Cal hasn't won a bowl since 2008, but Tedford has since worked relentlessly to restock the Bears' roster. His recruiting classes have appeared on ESPN's Top 25 rankings each of the past three years.

    The studs from those classes are coming into their own. These are the five guys with the biggest potential to make it onto the national scene with stellar performances.

Senior QB Zach Maynard

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    Many will be looking for Zach Maynard to follow in the recent tradition of quality California quarterbacks by having a breakout season.

    As a junior last year Maynard played about on par with his performance at Buffalo before transferring to the Golden Bears.

    Maynard had trouble with tougher defenses last year, but coach Jeff Tedford said that experience is essential to the quarterback's progress (h/t CalBears.com).

    "You could really tell that his experience through the season had really paid off, with the speed of the game and the management of the game," Tedford said.

    Maynard's senior season should hold better success, since he's had more time working with QB-guru Tedford and more time playing with half-brother wideout Keenan Allen.

Freshman WR Maurice Harris

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    The relative of Zach Maynard you might expect to see here is half-brother Keenan Allen, but he already broke out last year. Instead, the potential surprise star is cousin Maurice Harris.

    Harris is already listed as the wideout opposite of Allen, and is the same size as his cousin.

    Jeff Tedford has said that Harris has the best hands on the team. Plus he seems to be inspired by playing with Maynard and Allen:

    "This could be our one and only time to play together," Harris told John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've all got to take advantage of the opportunity. It's like a dream come true, growing up with Zach and Keenan (and now) getting the opportunity to play together."

    Sounds like Harris is ready to break out for the Golden Bears in 2012.

Sophomore DE Mustafa Jalil

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    The loss of two defensive ends to the NFL shouldn't faze California much, in large part because of sophomore Mustafa Jalil.

    Jalil was named a starter on Cal's recently released two-deep roster.

    Praised by coach Jeff Tedford as a freshman, Jalil should make an impact on the Golden Bears defense in his sophomore year.

    His 6'2", 300 lbs. frame coupled with his pure athleticism only help that sentiment.

    While Jalil played each game last season, he didn't record many tackles. But his performance in the spring game showed he can contribute.

Junior DE Deandre Coleman

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    California's other defensive end spot will be filled by stud junior DeAndre Coleman.

    Jeff Tedford had even more compliments for him than Jalil, saying Coleman "may be one of the best that we've ever had" (via ESPN).

    That's all the more impressive upon remembering that in the past three years the Golden Bears have had two first-round draft choices at the position in Cameron Jordan and Tyson Alualu.

    Coleman has spent the past two years maturing behind NFL draft choices Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu.

    After using that time to prepare for his starting gig this season, the 6'5" junior is ready for a breakout season.

Sophomore TE Richard Rodgers

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    The way Richard Rodgers is looking this spring, don't be surprised if Aaron isn't the only Rodgers you know from California after the year is over.

    Coach Jeff Tedford said in a media teleconference that he was looking for a player to step up at tight end this spring. Rodgers did just that, Tedford said:

    "We really felt good about the spring that Richard Rodgers had," Tedford said on the teleconference. "He's a 270-pound tight end who can run and get down the field, and very athletic catching the football. I felt like he really improved."

    The sophomore from Massachusetts can also block fairly well.

    Rodgers may also have luck on his side, as his father pitched two of the laterals on The Play 30 years ago.