Training camp is the perfect time for young players to shine, and many of Cal’s freshmen have done just that.
A list of talented freshmen could not start without running back Khalfani Muhammad. The former high school track star is obviously fast, and at 5-foot-7, Muhammad looks like a little bowling ball zipping up the field. If he can turn that speed into effective football running, he’ll be a difficult force to stop.
But as of right now, he probably will not be able to upend Daniel Lasco and Brendan Bigelow in the lineup. Still, there’s no question that Muhammad may see the field as a true freshman once the season starts.
And of course, the other freshman everyone’s eyes are on is Jared Goff. At this point, he looks to be in a two-way race for the quarterback position. As such, it’s hard to say that any freshman could have more of an impact than Goff, should he win the job.
Meanwhile, some lesser-known names have impressed.
Jack Austin has been a bright spot at wide receiver for the Bears.
“He’s coming out there and working every day,” said wide receiver Bryce Treggs about Austin. “He’s one of those guys who never takes a day off — or even a rep off.”
Austin has caught some deep balls in 11-on-11s, and in Tony Franklin’s new offense — which rotates wide receivers at a rapid pace — it seems like Austin has a very good chance of getting playing time in the fall.
Meanwhile, a freshman made an impression on Austin: Cameron Walker.
“He’s very tough,” Austin said about Walker. “He’ll get up in your face and manhandle some guys if necessary.”
Walker has broken up a few passes over the first week of practice and has a chance to fulfill a desperate need for Cal at cornerback.
Of course, there are others who have impressed as well — from Trey Cheek to Aaron Cochran to Jacobi Hunter to Johnny Ragin — but it is hard to determine at this point who will see time on the field. The one thing that’s certain is that Cal has the second-youngest roster in college football, and as such, freshmen will have a chance to contribute in 2013.