Unlike nearly every other position on the team, the Bears are loaded with talent in the receiving unit. The depth and talent of the receiving corps easily makes it one of the strongest, if not the strongest, positions on the Cal football team. But they can only do so much when it comes to leaving a mark in games. The receivers suffer as a result of the team’s overall lackluster play. And as long as the team continues to struggle, the upside and potential of the receivers cannot be fully tapped.
The Bears enter the 2014 season with most of their pieces from last year. Although the 6-foot-4, 257-pound Richard Rodgers won’t be returning next season, there is an excess of capable receivers to take his place. Despite the loss, Cal’s roster will still showcase a number of reliable wideouts.
Starting on one end of the field will be Bryce Treggs, whose flashy play-making ability and personality have made him a fan-favorite. Recording a hand-clocked 4.38 second 40-yard dash time this spring, Treggs offers electric speed and explosiveness and will be the Bears’ greatest vertical threat. But at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, the junior receiver lacks the size to be a physical threat off the line and fight for the ball, which means he needs to create lots of separation from defensive backs using his speed in order to complete receptions.
At times during the 2013 season, Treggs was not a factor in any of the team’s passing plays for extended periods of time. As a result, his numbers were unimpressive with just 751 total yards and one touchdown. But there were multiple plays where Goff could have targeted him upfield for a big play but couldn’t because his of his poor offensive line. Treggs had no choice but to jog back after a missed opportunity and line up for the next down.
Starting opposite of Treggs is Chris Harper, who was the team’s most productive receiver last year, recording 852 yards and five touchdowns. Although the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Harper lacks size, he has proven himself a very crisp route-runner with solid hands who actively gets himself involved in games evidenced by his 70 catches for 12.2 yards a catch.
Also expected to make an impact will be Hawaii transfer Trevor Davis. At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Davis serves as a bigger target for Goff, with enough mobility to gain positive yardage after the catch.
Next on the depth chart is 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver Stephen Anderson. But with just 125 yards last season, it remains to be seen whether or not he has the skillset to make a noticeable contribution to the team.
The receiver with arguably the most potential to have a breakout season next year is Kenny Lawler, who tied with Harper for a team-high five touchdowns last season. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Lawler has the height and length to win jump balls and catch passes that aren’t 100 percent accurate. Lawler has shown that he is strong enough to fight off defensive backs and win physical matchups, but putting on weight would help him in battling opposing cornerbacks in close-contact plays.
Behind the five core receivers are Maurice Harris, Patrick Worstell, Darius Powe, Raymond Hudson, Drake Whitehurst, Bryce McGovern, James Grisom and Jack Austin. Another name to keep an eye on is incoming freshman Erik Brown. A four-star recruit, Brown was one of Cal’s top recruits last year and is expected to be a contributor.
By looking at the depth and talent at receiver, this is one area the Bears should not be worried about. But as good as the receivers are, they are limited as long as the rest of the offense plays sloppily. If the team can’t fix the issues surrounding the offensive line, the run game and play calling, then the receivers won’t be able to lift the offense to a level high enough to produce wins.
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