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As the California football team counts down to the start of fall camp on August 4 (players report on August 3), BearTerritory will go right along, previewing the 2012 Bears, position-by-position. Today, we start with the wide receivers.
With the departures of Michael Calvin, Marvin Jones and Coleman Edmond, Cal lost 2,788 career receiving yards and 199 career catches. The returning receivers have caught 150 passes for 1,883 yards -- with all but six catches for 50 yards coming from Keenan Allen.
Cal has re-tooled with five youngsters, including the dynamic and polished Bryce Treggs and the multi-talented Cedric Dozier.
Treggs hauled in 159 passes for 2,921 yards in three varsity seasons for Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, and thanks to his father Brian Treggs -- himself a former star wide out for the Bears -- was one of the most disciplined and college-ready receivers in the 2012 class.
"He has a little advantage because of his dad," says Cal offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik. "His dad played here, obviously, and his dad coached him. He understands that position and was in a very high-level high school that threw the ball. In some ways, he has more experience than some of the other ones. I think that's a real plus in his corner."
Treggs eschewed his father's No. 3 jersey to take over for Jones, donning the No. 1 made famous by a certain Philadelphia Eagles receiver and punt returner.
"I don't want to compare guys, but DeSean Jackson came in here as a pretty polished guy because his brother had played in the NFL and had been around and had worked with him," Michalczik says. "It's a process, all he's learning and all that stuff, but he's got a little advantage from his dad working with him and being around him."
The post-spring depth chart showed just two receivers: Allen and his younger cousin Maurice Harris, who had a game-high seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. Allen was sidelined for the spring because of an ankle injury sustained playing pick-up basketball, but nevertheless is still on the watch list for the prestigious Biletnikoff Award. Last season, Allen was one of 10 national semifinalists for the award, given annually to the best college football wide receiver, catching 98 passes for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns. Allen is also on the watch list for the Maxwell Trophy -- given annually to college football's top player -- and is a near-unanimous preseason All-American.
"I expect great things out of him," Michalczik says. "I expect him to be great, and I think he's working hard to get better. He's one of the best out there, and you can't say enough good things about Keenan. I think one of the things that's happened here is that Wes Chandler kind of got with Keenan and told him that he needs to help coach these young guys up, and you need to become the leader. You hear good things about him helping doing those things, and I'm looking forward to seeing Keenan take that leadership role."
Still, though, that's just one player. Though Allen is fully healed from his offseason mishap, the ankle injury threw into sharp relief just how shallow the position is. While there is plenty of talent on the roster, the lack of experience could pose some troubling problems, or exciting questions.
"It poses a lot, because there's the basics," Michalczik says. "Like anything, you have your basic assignments. You get your driver's license, it's pretty easy to drive a car, but that doesn't mean you're actually really good at it, yet. There's a lot of things over time, that, you build those skills and those reactions and those natural movements, that kind of ties into that."
While Treggs is the odds-on favorite to take over at the X-receiver position, possession specialist Powe and the versatile Dozier could shoehorn their way into some early playing time.
"Cedric's a big, physical guy, and a very good athlete," Michalczik says. "A lot of what you're doing in your recruiting is you're looking at that raw, athletic talent. He comes from a very good program, too. But, he's done multiple things and he's played multiple positions.
"I think if you look at those guys and you look at the high school, they all have certain things that they do better than the other ones. It's kind of going to be who's the couple or three or whatever that can kind of pick things up the quickest and be the most well-rounded."
The young receivers are going to have to learn quickly, and Cal cannot afford to treat them with kid gloves. They're going to have to take their lumps early, and in live game situations.
"There are a lot of ways that a guy playing press coverage on them -- is he lined up inside, outside, slightly off, jumping at them on the snap, bailing out of there -- all those things, just to get the play started, to get off the line of scrimmage," Michalczik says. "I'm really excited about that crew, and I think they're going to have to help us. I think there's a good group there. Which of them are going to mature more quickly is going to be the interesting question."
Check back tomorrow when we'll go in-depth with the tight end position in a premium positional preview. Don't have a premium subscription? Check out our special 30-day trial offer (promo code: GoBears30) which expires on August 3.