Bring ’em out; Bears begin fall camp

2017-08-01-justin-wilcox_169a4490_calathletics
Cal Athletics/Courtesy

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Part of the appeal of having mic’d up players and coaches during a game is so the fans can have an in-game feel of what goes on on the field. While there were not many onlookers at California Memorial Stadium on Monday for Cal football’s first day of fall training camp, nearly everyone present got a taste of a real-life mic’d up experience.

“Quick feet! Eyes up! Eyes up!” defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Tim DeRuyter hollered. The punishment for every ball not caught in this specific inside linebacker drill was five up-downs, but the backers were perfect.

At the beginning of practice, speakers blared and Gucci Mane’s “Met Gala” set the the tone for camp, but a short while later, the music was gone in what seemed like an even bigger change in tone. While it was only the first day of camp, it was clear that the Bears were hard at work, and with good reason. Many predict that Cal will have a mediocre season and camp is going to be crucial for the Bears if they want to make waves in an extremely competitive Pac-12 conference.

For much of practice, the defense and offense broke into several groups to work on specialized drills. Day one, as expected, was about getting into the swing of things, as the Bears practiced without pads.

“They all know what position they play and now we’re teaching them what to do and how to do it,” said head coach Justin Wilcox. “When we get some more of the physical practices, that’s when the evaluations will begin.”

The two quarterbacks in contention for the starting spot, redshirt junior Chase Forrest and redshirt sophomore Ross Bowers, looked poised and ready to lead their team. One drill that tested the gunslingers’ accuracy was throwing the pigskin into a net and seeing who was most on target.

Bowers posed for a couple pictures with fans after practice concluded, which reiterated the notion that the Bears need a new face at the helm. With Cal’s last two quarterbacks in Davis Webb and Jared Goff being selected in the NFL draft, the team’s next starter has big shoes to fill and will carry the tremendous burden of running one of the Pac-12’s most potent offenses.

Many wide receivers looked sharp and capable, but sophomore Demetris Robertson stood out with his exceptional footwork and quick speed downfield. Not only is the receiving corp incredibly skilled, but it also runs 14 deep. Other standouts include redshirt junior Vic Wharton III, redshirt senior Jordan Veasy and sophomore Jordan Duncan.

Senior running backs Tre Watson and Vic Enwere showed off their skills, but Watson simply seemed exceptionally strong, agile and ready to own the starting position. He has an unwavering confidence, even in practice, that is likely to transition to dominance come game time.

On the other side of the ball, senior Devante Downs and redshirt senior Raymond Davison looked solid at the inside linebacker position. Downs seemed calm and collected but also prepared to take on his role as one of Cal’s defensive leaders.

“I have to teach the newcomers, the freshmen the plays a little bit because this is their first time going live or live a little bit,” Downs said. “Just teaching them where to be and what to do is key right now.”

Cal will continue its fall camp through August 19, and has a long way to improve going toward its season opener in September.

Christie Aguilar is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].

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