TCU transfer Sam Jackson V will lead the Bears at starting quarterback for the team’s season opener at North Texas on Sept. 2, Cal head coach Justin Wilcox announced Thursday morning.
“It was an intense battle the last month,” said Wilcox. “Sam really took a step forward these last couple weeks, just his command of the offense, the decision making, (throwing) the ball accurately. We have confidence in all those guys, but Sam has earned the right to start and we’re excited to watch him grow with this opportunity.”
The release of Cal’s position depth chart comes after a three-sided quarterback battle took center stage at fall camp, as Jackson competed with NC State transfer Ben Finley and redshirt freshman Fernando Mendoza. Finley and Mendoza have been named co-backups.
Ultimately earning the starting signal caller nod, Wilcox praised both Jackson’s efficiency in the passing game and agility as a running threat.
Jackson bore some inconsistency inside the pocket throughout fall camp, rattled by the defense’s pass rush. However, he showed improvement in Cal’s Aug. 19 scrimmage, hurling 108 passing yards. As TCU’s second-string quarterback last season, Jackson completed 6-6 passing attempts for 125 yards with 79 rushing yards before becoming a Bear in January.
While all eyes will be on Jackson come Sept. 2, other notable depth chart offensive decisions include recruited walk-on Trond Grizzell at wide receiver, who competed for the starting rank with Washington transfer Taj Davis and Illinois transfer Brian Hightower. Isaiah Ifanse and Ashton Stredick were also placed as back-up running backs to standout Jaydn Ott.
The Bears will host SEC power Auburn in their week two match-up, before Pac-12 conference play kickstarts on Sept. 23 at Washington.