At the Cal football team’s spring practice on Saturday, sophomore running back Brendan Bigelow “grew up a lot,” according to head coach Jeff Tedford.
As the squad participated in full pad drills and scrimmages, the tailback proved to be one of the highlights of the morning, tallying eight carries for 41 yards while showcasing his superior speed.
But according to backs coach Ron Gould, Bigelow still has plenty of growing up left to do.
During red zone drills, Bigelow took a handoff up the middle, cut back off his right foot and lowered his pads for the end zone, dazzling spectators and coaches alike. However, as he tried to extend the football over the goal line it squirted out for a fumble.
“It was a nice run but a poor finish,” Gould said. “If he keeps improving and holds onto the ball, he will (have an impact in the fall). If not, he’ll be standing on the sidelines with me. There’s a level of expectation these guys have to play at. Anything less is not acceptable.”
Bigelow only saw limited playing time as a freshman, rushing only six times for 25 yards on the season. However, he might have a chance to validate his high school hype, illustrated by his 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Presbyterian on Sept. 17.
Following his sophomore year in high school, Bigelow looked primed to be the next star running back for a major college program — garnering comparisons to Jahvid Best thanks to his ridiculous speed. But he tore his right ACL in each of his next two seasons, putting a red flag on his recruiting profile.
He feels up to full strength again heading into his second collegiate campaign, and says he finally has his speed back and confidence back, ready to have a major impact on the gridiron again.
“I felt like I grew up today,” Bigelow said. “I’ve come a long ways, battled injuries. I actually feel a lot stronger, a lot faster and a lot more confident in my ability.”
Also looking to make his name as a Cal running back is Daniel Lasco, who came to Cal with Bigelow but redshirted due to an already crowded backfield. The 6-foot-2, 204-pound back from Woodlands, Texas has shown an impressive combination of power and speed and has proven himself a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.
“I can’t wait until fall comes,”Lasco said. “I’m taking all the things Coach G taught me. I want to help the team out as much as possible, whether that’s at running back or on special teams.”
Lasco was forced to sit out and watch Saturday, sidelined with a sore hamstring. But having to watch Bigelow wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
“He’s finally learning to get his pads down and he’s using his speed to advantage,” Lasco said. “He’s going to be a sight to see.”