In recent years, Cal football coach Jeff Tedford has kept the public waiting to find out who will be starting under center.
That won’t be the case this season.
Tedford announced Saturday that junior Zach Maynard will be team’s starting quarterback, ending a competition that began at the close of the coach’s first sub-.500 season last fall.
“Zach showed a tremendous amount of upside during spring practice and is the quarterback that gives us the best opportunity to win football games,” Tedford said in a press release. “He has the ability to both throw and run the ball effectively, giving us another dimension at that position that we haven’t had in a while.”
Maynard, who heard the news from Tedford a few days ago, took every first-team rep in the Bears’ final session of spring camp at Contra Costa College two weeks ago.
The transfer from Buffalo beat out senior Brock Mansion, who started the last four games of the 2010 season after Kevin Riley’s knee injury, and sophomore Allan Bridgford. He sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“It took me a little while,” Maynard said of his adjustment period. “Just coming off this last year, I redshirted, I hadn’t stepped on the field in a whole year … It was kind of rough at first.”
Maynard — who cites former Oregon star and current Pittsburgh Steelers backup Dennis Dixon as his favorite quarterback — brings more mobility to the pocket than Cal has seen in a while.
The Greensboro, N.C., native started 11 of 12 games in his final season at the University of Buffalo in 2009, completing 57.5 percent of his pass attempts for 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He was also the Bulls’ third-leading rusher, amassing 300 yards and a touchdown on 87 carries.
Maynard decided to leave Buffalo after the departure of head coach Turner Gill, who was hired by Kansas. He had attended football camps at Cal in the past, and decided to head west to play under Tedford.
His choice to come to the Bay Area played a large part in landing Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen, Maynard’s half-brother. Allen, who originally committed to Alabama, set the Bears’ single-season freshman record with 46 receptions in 2010.
“It helps me out pretty good,” Maynard said of playing with Allen. “He’s absolutely a huge asset … Having someone out there I know I can depend on, whether we’re losing by 50 or winning by 50.”
The Bears open their season Sept. in a neutral-site match against Fresno State at Candlestick Park.