March 23, 2013
BERKELEY - Sometimes you're lucky enough to get a second chance.
Keenan Allen. He has been one of the Golden Bears' most-improved and standout players during spring ball this year.
One of the most encouraging things about the 3-9 disappointing campaign for the Golden Bears was the emergence of a young corps of impressive wide outs. True freshmen Chris Harper and Darius Powe, along with sophomore tight end Richard Rodgers, provided some of the bright spots last season.
Unfortunately for Lawler, he couldn't show what he could bring to the table last season as he sat on the sidelines. Still, Lawler chooses to look at the positives that came from sitting out.
"It helped out a lot," Lawler said. "It lets you develop your body. Going into last year, my body probably wasn't as developed as it is now. The redshirt season is an important year."
According to his first-year position coach Rob Likens, Lawler has made the most of his opportunity during spring ball this year.
"It's tough when you come from a program where you're one of the best players and you're playing all the time, and then all of the sudden, you're getting redshirted and some tough things happen to you," Likens said. "He had a second chance, and I'm very proud of him because he took advantage of it. I've been coaching for 24 years and I've seen a bunch of kids not take advantage of second chances. His tutors, his professors and our academic people have all complimented him, saying that he's turned a corner and he's doing great. That's basically what he did this whole month on the field, too."
Likens said that Lawler is definitely one of the more popular guys amongst the wide receivers. Whenever he does something good, the players rally around him and get excited.
Lawler has taken full advantage of the tutelage from Likens as well as the new playbook and said he enjoys the up-tempo style of the new offense. He also complimented Likens, saying that he's a coach who knows what he's talking about and will lead you in the right direction.
Part of the reason why Lawler and the rest of the Cal receivers have stepped their game up this spring was because of the departure of Allen. Treggs and Harper may have experience on their side, but Lawler still sees the valuable opportunity knocking on the door.
"It's a big window because Keenan was such a great player," Lawler said. "He's about to become a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. With him leaving, it puts the spotlight on me to work hard and I've just been working hard, catching every ball they throw to me. It's been paying off."
Don't be surprised if you see Lawler in the starting lineup come opening day when Cal welcomes Northwestern to Memorial Stadium on August 31. One thing's for sure, whether he starts or not on opening day, Lawler is going to take full advantage of this opportunity to excel.