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Cal Football: Projecting the 2019 Depth, Offense

Cal football is still over 100 days away, but with summer fast approaching, the roster is likely going to see a few additions before the season starts. For now though, there's enough key pieces to project what the depth could look like come August 31st.

* - Denotes walk-ons

Quarterback
Player Year Experience

Chase Garbers

Redshirt Sophomore

10 starts in 2018

Devon Modster

Redshirt Junior

1 start at UCLA in 2017

Jack Newman*

Redshirt Sophomore

Starter at CCSF in 2018

Spencer Brasch

Freshman

2-year starter at Higley HS

Robby Rowell*

Redshirt Freshman

Scout team QB in 2018

Right now, Chase Garbers looks like the guy for the Bears, at least at the moment. His command of the offense is better than it was in the fall, and he's a physically stronger player going into 2019. Confidence played a big role for Garbers in the spring, showing it in testing the middle of the field through sharp passes to the likes of McCallan Castles and Nikko Remigio and making the right read on option runs. He's not perfect, but he's improved.

Modster is the backup right now, though as seen in 2018, that can change. Right now, Modster is a confident player, willing to throw over the top, but a bit rusty. The arms strength and athletic ability is there, the confidence is what should come around next. Cal fans have seen him kill their bowl hopes before, so he's capable.

Newman's got an arm and the ability to improvise, but the next step for him is getting comfortable making the throws in his progressions. One thing that was impressive about him was his ball placement, putting a deep ball on the outside shoulder of a receiver 35 yards downfield.

Brasch comes in this summer, he's already been going through the playbook and works near religiously on his game on the weekends (he's also running track at Higley, qualifying for the state meet in the high jump). He has a big arm, can run, and Beau Baldwin noted that he liked Brasch's attitude when down in games.

Rowell ran the scout team for the Bears a year ago, and he's up and down in practice at times. He's uncorked great throws, like a perfect wheel to Remigio in the back corner of the endzone during the Bears' final spring practice, then not-so-great throws, like an underthrown corner that got picked by Daniel Scott in the spring game.

Running Back
Player Year Experience

Chris Brown

Sophomore

Primary Backup to Patrick Laird in 2018

OR Marcel Dancy*

Redshirt Junior

Played in four games in 2018

OR Deshawn Collins

Redshirt Junior

CCSF starter in 2018

Alex Netherda

Redshirt Senior

Mainly special teams

DeCarlos Brooks

Freshman

2229 yards at Chandler in 2018

Brandon McIlwain^

Redshirt Junior

Co-led team in 20+ yard rushes in 2018

This section has to start with a couple caveats. First, Brandon McIlwain did not play much in the spring (he's sidelined right now from baseball with a broken foot), so not much has been revealed about how he'll be utilized in the offense. He'll be used in some shape or fashion.

The question remaining after the spring is who gets the first crack at things when the dust settles. It would've been Chris Brown, had he not gotten hurt in the spring game and sat during the final week of spring ball. That gave Marcel Dancy the time to close the gap, along with Deshawn Collins. They are three different backs:

Brown - downhill power back, developing speed and cutting abilities

Dancy - cutback skill, side to side agility

Collins - One cut and go, speed off cuts, was slowed by injury for part of spring

Biggest piece seen of the latter two is their ability to catch passes out of the backfield, something Brown improved on during spring as well.

Netherda's not one to count out, with a good spring game performance (12 carries for 76 yards) and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Netherda's strong in reading his blocks to set up defenders behind them, with good patience in that regard.

The running back race is still relatively open, which could catapult Brooks into early playing time. A state champion and a 2000+ yard rusher as a senior at Chandler HS, Brooks showed acceleration of his cuts, a low center of gravity which often shrugged off the first tackler, and per Burl Toler, excellent footwork.

Wide Receiver
X Z Slot

Trevon Clark

Jordan Duncan

Nikko Remigio

Monroe Young

OR Kekoa Crawford

OR Jeremiah Hawkins

OR Ricky Walker III*

Ben Skinner*

Ryan Regan*

OR Makai Polk

Evan King*

This is a rough projection of the receiver spot at this point, because there could be a few more guys added to the roster, but this is who is currently on the roster or set to be on the roster this summer.

We'll start with Clark, a 6'4" pass catcher the likes of which Cal didn't really have last year. Clark provides a big target at the X spot, one who has plenty of after the catch ability, shedding tackles in his junior college film. The hope is for Clark to be a day one starter, and it's not too farfetched to think he could be.

At the Z-spot, the Bears have a couple options to start on the roster at the moment in Jordan Duncan and Kekoa Crawford. Duncan missed most of the spring due to getting hurt on the first day of spring ball. Duncan's a smooth wideout with his technical ability, but needs to find the consistency and health that evaded him over his first three years in the program. Crawford was brought in for his explosive ability, but also will need to find consistency moving forward. He's a vertical threat with his speed, something that the Bears need to have some offensive success.

In the slot right now, there a couple candidates to start in Remigio and Hawkins. Both will see plenty of time, but Remigio may hold a slight edge due to his blocking ability. Hawkins did have an impressive spring ball, becoming more consistent with the ball in his hands as Baldwin schemed to get him the ball more, with jet sweeps and the like. Remigio has showed some ability as a threat against zones, getting in the spaces between zones and making catches.

The backup situation currently is unproven, though many of the backups showed some things in spring:

Young - technical route runner, developing as a wideout, consistent hands and an agile player

Skinner - Big target, solid hands, strong work ethic per Burl Toler

Walker - Speed threat, finally healthy heading into the fall

Polk - "As gifted physically as anyone in the group" - Wilcox

King - Big bodied wideout, not top end speed, but uses his size well

Regan - Played in the slot this spring when healthy, but can also play both outside spots

This is a position where productive depth has to be recruited and developed going forward.

Tight End
Player Year Experience

McCallan Castles

Redshirt Freshman

First catch came against TCU

Gavin Reinwald

Redshirt Sophomore

11 receptions in 2017, redshirted 2018

OR Collin Moore*

Redshirt Sophomore

Former QB, moved to TE, best C-gap blocker per Wilcox

OR Jake Tonges*

Redshirt Sophomore

Mainly special teams

Elijah Mojarro

Freshman

Two-year starter at Orange Lutheran

There's a lot of projection that has to go on when looking at the tight end position, since six guys at the position left from last year. Now, it's looking like McCallan Castles has the opportunity to be the starter, as he took first team reps throughout the spring.

Castles probably has some of the highest potential on the team, a 6'5", 235 lb pass catcher, one who can run after the catch and force mismatches agains smaller DBs or slower linebackers. Blocking is still something that he needs work on, but it's improving, and from an outsiders perspective, it appears that the Cal staff is willing to take that tradeoff in order to have another threat on the field.

Backing him up is what's next, and Gavin Reinwald, Collin Moore, and Jake Tonges did that during the spring. Reinwald looks like a different player than he did in 2017, up to 240 lbs with the ability to split out or play an H-back role. Moore's more of an in-line TE right now, as Wilcox likes his blocking ability, similar to Kyle Wells. Tonges showed physicality against safeties as a pass catcher in the spring as well, and he's another 6'5" body in there.

Finally, Mojarro will likely need a bit of time to put on weight, but he's likely to fill an H-back role as well. He can split out as well, and had success at Orange Lutheran as a threat up the seam.

Offensive Line
Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle

Will Craig

Gentle Williams

Mike Safell

Valentino Daltoso

Jake Curhan

PJ Poutasi

Jasper Friis

Tanner Prenovost*

Matthew Cindric

Brandon Mello

Brayden Rohme

McKade Mettauer

Jack Beeman*

Miles Owens

Brian Driscoll

OR Henry Bazakas*

Here's where the idea of a depth chart gets shaky. Steve Greatwood likes to play around with his offensive line, something seen last year as Valentino Daltoso played four different positions. If Will Craig were to get hurt, Daltoso would likely be the one to slide over, and Matt Cindric would likely slide into the right guard spot. Versatility is the name of the game.

That said, three players took about every first team snap on the line in Craig, Curhan, and Williams, as multiple coaches noted Curhan developing as a player and leader. Daltoso and Saffell were out for the spring, but Daltoso should slide back in at right guard, while Saffell will take over his natural center spot.

Behind them, it'll be interesting to see who develops. The Cal staff has long been high on the potential of Matthew Cindric, and he's going to see some time in the rotation. Tanner Prenovost held his own among the first team all spring at both center and right guard. PJ Poutasi played some tackle during the spring, but could also be in contention for some backup reps at guard.

Summer workouts are most important for the linemen though, as Torre Becton says he likes to (in his words) "slow cook them." Guys like Friis, Mello, and Miles Owens still need more development time. Driscoll, Rohme, and Mettauer will all need some of that as well, though all three are mobile linemen who could fit in many different roles. Beeman spent the spring learning center, while Bazakas is still coming back from an injury.

Probably the best thing about this group is that there aren't any seniors among those expected to be key players, as they look to develop more going forward.