Aug. 6, 2009
BERKELEY - The 2009 California football team will report to training camp on Thursday to begin preparations for the upcoming season. The Bears will hold their first workout Friday at Memorial Stadium. All practices are closed to the public, but the Golden Bears will host their annual Fan Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 29 (12:00 - 2:00 p.m. PT), following their final practice of training camp.
The Golden Bears open their 2009 campaign with a nationally televised ESPN2 contest against Maryland at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5 (7:00 p.m., PT). Cal fans are encouraged to participate in a Blue Out of Memorial Stadium in the season opener. The best way to show your support is to pick up the CalBears.com/Blueout.
For 2009 Cal football tickets, visit CalBears.com or call (800) GO BEARS.
Cal has been ranked as high as No. 9 (Phil Steele) in 2009 national team preseason rankings released by college football preview publications. The Golden Bears were selected to finish second in the Pac-10 this year in an annual preseason poll of media who regularly cover the league.
Following are a 2009 preseason outlook and notes.
2009 PRESEASON OUTLOOK
GOLDEN BEARS READY TO GROWL
With most key players returning from a 9-4 team that captured the 2008 Emerald Bowl for its school-record fourth straight bowl victory, California has plenty of reasons to be optimistic in 2009.
In fact, prognosticators believe there could be something special about this year's squad. The Bears are referred to as a "legitimate national title contender" in Phil Steele's 2009 College Football Preview. Cal is ranked in nearly every Top 25 preseason poll and in the Top 15 in most.
"Our goal is to realize our potential," head coach Jeff Tedford offered calmly. And this is a season full of potential.
Two of the primary reasons for the optimism are a defense that is arguably one of the top units in the nation and a running back in Jahvid Best that is one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates.
"I'm excited about the 2009 season and the possibilities," Tedford said with more excitement. "The team chemistry and leadership are some of the best during my time here."
The trio will work with Tedford and first-year offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who spent last season as the offensive coordinator of a high-powered Utah offense that contributed to the nation's only unbeaten record (13-0) and a No. 2 ranking in the final national polls.
"I believe that the addition of a couple of new coaches on the offensive side of the ball will bring some freshness to what we're doing," said Tedford in reference to Ludwig and new offensive line coach Steve Marshall.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cal is coming off its best showing since 1994 and expected to continue to improve under eighth-year defensive coordinator Bob Gregory.
The primary concern will be replacing starting linebackers Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams. The three new starters will be supported by eight returning defensive starters as both the defensive line and backfield remain intact from a 2008 team that was among the national leaders in nearly every statistical category, including impressive top 10 showings in red zone efficiency defense (.68, No. 2), interceptions (24, No. 3), turnovers gained (34, No. 4-T), pass efficiency defense (98.44, No. 6) and third down conversations defense (30.96, No. 10).
Should the Golden Bears have another successful season, Tedford will continue his rapid ascent into hallowed territory within the school's coaching annals. He has already taken Cal to more postseason bowl games (6) than anyone else in school history and needs just nine more wins to pass College Football Hall of Fame member Pappy Waldorf (67-32-4) on top of the modern era victory list.
Tedford starts the 2009 season with a 59-30 all-time mark at Cal after leading the Bears to a 9-4 record, an Emerald Bowl victory over Miami, Fla., and a No. 25 ranking in the final coaches' poll in 2008.
Cal begins 2009 by hosting Maryland in a nationally televised ESPN2 game at Memorial Stadium on September 5. After a visit from Eastern Washington on September 12, the Bears travel to play only the second game in a new on-campus stadium at Minnesota on September 19.
The Pac-10 slate starts the following week and the Golden Bears will open conference action with nationally televised ABC games against two other teams holding serious Pac-10 title hopes, travelling to Oregon on September 26 and hosting USC for homecoming on October 3.
After a bye week, Cal will round out October by making a trip to UCLA (October 17), hosting Washington State (October 24) and visiting Arizona State (October 31). November starts with a pair of home games against Oregon State (November 7) and Arizona (November 14) before a short ride across the Bay to Stanford for the Big Game (November 21). After a second bye, the Bears close out the regular season at Washington on December 5.
"I'm really looking forward to this team working very hard to accomplish our goal," Tedford explained. "Our goal never really changes, and that's to reach our full potential. I know there's going to be high expectations on this team, and it's something we welcome. I have a lot of confidence that we are going to work hard and achieve what we have set forth to do."
The following is a position-by-position look at the Golden Bears heading into the 2009 season.
Cal returns seven starters on offense, headlined by junior running back Jahvid Best, who last season ranked third nationally in rushing yards per game (131.7) as well as second in all-purpose yards per contest (187.2). The Bears also have their top passer returning in junior quarterback Kevin Riley as well as their top receiver in senior Nyan Boateng.
The trio helped the Golden Bears average 32.6 points per game last season to mark the sixth time in the past seven campaigns Cal has scored more than 30.0 points per game - a feat the team accomplished just once in the eight years prior to Tedford's arrival in 2002.
16 - Allan Bridgford (6-3, 210, FR, HS)
10 - Brock Mansion (6-5, 237, SO, 1V)
13 - Kevin Riley (6-2, 221, JR, 2V)
9 - Beau Sweeney (6-2, 226, RFR, RS)
14 - Ryan Wertenberger (6-2, 207, RFR, RS)
"We will have competition for the starting quarterback job in 2009," Tedford confirmed. "It's a good situation to have three guys that are capable of doing the job."
Riley compiled a 7-2 record as a starter last fall, when he completed 112-of-221 passes for 1,360 yards and 14 scores (only six interceptions). In 2007, he was named Offensive MVP of the Armed Forces Bowl after coming into the game with a 21-0 deficit and guiding Cal to a victory over Air Force. Riley was 16-of-19 for 269 yards and three TDs. He also had a big game against Oregon State (20-of-34, 294 yards, 2 TDs) earlier in the year.
The strong-armed Mansion saw spot duty in 2008, finishing 3-of-6 for 26 yards in late-game situations. He was named Cal's Freshman Lifter of the Year in 2007. Sweeney was voted the Bears' Co-Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year in 2008. Redshirt freshman Ryan Wertenberger and true freshman Allan Bridgford are the other quarterbacks on the team's roster.
4 - Jahvid Best (5-10, 195, JR, 2V)
28 - Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (5-11, 205, RFR, RS)
24 - Langton Jackson (6-1, 227, RFR, RS)
21 - Kevin Lewis (5-9, 180, RFR, RS)
34 - Shane Vereen (5-10, 198, SO, 1V)
23 - Dasarte Yarnway (6-0, 222, FR, HS)
30 - Nico Dumont (6-0, 210, FR, HS)
18 - Peter Geurts (6-1, 215, SO, 1V)
32 - Jon Harris (6-0, 230, FR, HS)
33 - Brian Holley (5-10, 235, SR, 3V)
22 - Will Kapp (5-10, 216, SO, 1V)
48 - Eric Stevens (6-0, 229, RFR, RS)
31 - John Tyndall (6-3, 236, SO, 1V)
It's nearly impossible to have a conversation about Cal football without talking about Jahvid Best, the team's Heisman Trophy candidate. The junior speedster is a first-team preseason All-American and near the top of almost everybody's list of Heisman Trophy favorites heading into the 2009 campaign. All he did in 2008 to earn this recognition was rush for 1,580 yards - No. 3 in the country, No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 2 on Cal's all-time single-season list - and set single-season school records with 8.1 yards per carry and 15 rushing TDs (tied mark). The 2008 first-team All-Pac-10 selection also set a single-game Cal mark by galloping for 311 yards in the regular season finale vs. Washington before establishing an Emerald Bowl record with 186 yards in a victory over Miami, Fla. Best had three of the Pac-10's four 200-yard games and went for 100 or more yards on eight occasions. He also posted 19 rushes of 20 or more yards and seven that he broke for at least 60, including three of 80 or more.
Best is a triple threat as he also tied for second on the team last year with 27 receptions while averaging 26.3 yards per kickoff return.
Although Best is certainly among the nation's elite, it's not a one-man show in the Cal backfield.
Sophomore running back Shane Vereen churned his way to 715 yards (No. 10 Pac-10) and four touchdowns as Best's backup during his redshirt freshman season last season. Vereen rushed for 101 yards in the Michigan State opener, including a game-clinching 81-yard TD sprint in the fourth quarter. Subbing for an injured Best vs. Arizona State, he totaled 93 yards on the ground and 51 more on five catches to help the Bears to a 24-14 win over the Sun Devils. He also added 99 yards to complement Best's 100-yard game vs. UCLA while picking up 80 at Washington State and 56 at Stanford, where he also made one catch for a 59-yard touchdown against the Cardinal.
"We would like to think that we have one of the best running games in the country," said Tedford. "Everyone knows that Jahvid Best is a Heisman candidate, but we have excellent depth at the position. With Jahvid and Shane Vereen, we have one of the best 1-2 punches in the country. We are also very impressed with all of the other players we have in this talented group."
Those other players include redshirt freshmen Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Langston Jackson and Kevin Lewis, as well as true freshman and local product Dasarte Yarnway from San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral High School.
Fullback duties are up for grabs after the graduation of starter Will Ta'ufo'ou, with several players battling for the starting spot. Senior Brian Holley brings the most experience after serving as the primary backup for Ta'ufo'ou the past two seasons, but he will be challenged by sophomores John Tyndall and Will Kapp (son of former Cal standout and head coach Joe Kapp).
WIDE RECEIVER (13)
8 - Nyan Boateng (6-2, 211, SR, 1V)
81 - Ross Bostock (6-2, 194, RFR, RS)
82 - Jackson Bouza (6-1, 185, FR, HS)
84 - Michael Calvin (6-2, 205, SO, 1V)
87 - Spencer Hagan (6-4, 180, FR, HS)
1 - Marvin Jones (6-2, 190, SO, 1V)
5 - Alex Lagemann (6-2, 200, SO, SQ)
3 - Jeremy Ross (5-11, 216, JR, 1V)
2 - Charles Satchell (6-2, 208, RFR, RS)
20 - Isi Sofele (5-7, 170, FR, HS)
7 - Quinn Tedford (6-0, 170, RFR, RS)
86 - Verran Tucker (6-1, 204, SR, 1V)
88 - Aric Williams (6-2, 198, SO, TR)
After having nearly an entirely new batch of receivers in 2008, Cal returns four of its top six players this fall. The Bears should have excellent depth and are hopeful that several members of the group will have breakout seasons.
"We have a promising group of receivers and are looking for a couple of them to emerge as leaders of the group," confirmed Tedford.
Senior Nyan Boateng put up the top numbers last year with team-highs of 29 catches and 439 yards receiving, while also ranking second on the club with five TD receptions.
Senior Verran Tucker was the biggest deep threat with his team-high 17.2 yards per catch average, three scores among his 21 receptions for 362 yards.
Junior Jeremy Ross was solid during a 2008 season in which he moved into the starting lineup for four of the final five games and finished the campaign with 17 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore Alex Lagemann has yet to catch a pass in college but also had an impressive spring and should get a look in the rotation.
Newcomers joining the group are sophomore Aric Williams (Livermore, CA/Granada HS/West Los Angeles College), as well as true freshmen Jackson Bouza (Lafayette, CA/De La Salle HS), Spencer Hagan (Sacramento, CA/Capital Christian HS) and Isi Sofele (Salt Lake City, UT/Cottonwood HS).
TIGHT END (7)
83 - Skylar Curran (6-4, 256, SR, 1V)
99 - Savai'i Eselu (6-3, 251, SO, SQ)
89 - Garry Graffort (6-3, 242, JR, SQ)
45 - Spencer Ladner (6-7, 253, RFR, RS)
80 - Anthony Miller (6-3, 258, SO, 1V)
44 - Tad Smith (6-5, 254, SR, 2V)
19 - Jarrett Sparks (6-1, 230, RFR, RS)
After the early departure of Cameron Morrah for the NFL Draft following his 2008 junior season, Cal is looking for a new starter at tight end. Morrah was an active receiver a year ago, tying for second on the team with 27 receptions and ranking third with his 326 yards receiving.
Senior Tad Smith seemed to have the inside track to take over the starting spot before being sidelined for much of the offseason when he broke his scapula during spring workouts. Smith, who had three catches for 23 yards and a TD as a backup last season after converting to the position from defensive end, is expected to be ready to go for training camp.
"Tad Smith is the veteran in the group and will provide solid play and leadership," stated Tedford. "I'm also looking forward to seeing what some of the younger players will bring to the table."
One of those younger players is sophomore Anthony Miller, who is an intriguing option that should certainly see playing time. Miller had only one catch as a true freshman last season, but it was the gamewinner with just 2:41 left in the Emerald Bowl against Miami, Fla. A pair of redshirt freshmen - Spencer Ladner and converted wide receiver Jarrett Sparks - and senior Skylar Curran also figure into the mix. Other tight ends on the roster include sophomore Savai'i Eselu and junior Garry Graffort.
70 - Mark Boskovich (6-4, 304, JR, 2V)
61 - Justin Cheadle (6-2, 299, SO, 1V)
74 - T.J. Emery (6-3, 291, SO, SQ)
73 - Richard Fisher (6-4, 290, JR, 1V)
52 - Justin Gates (6-3, 281, SO, SQ)
59 - Ed Johnston (6-3, 265, FR, HS)
77 - Tyler Rigsbee (6-5, 285, RFR, RS)
57 - Brian Schwenke (6-3, 260, FR, HS)
75 - Matt Summers-Gavin (6-4, 291, RFR, RS)
58 - Chet Teofilo (6-3, 329, SR, 3V)
53 - Donovan Edwards (6-5, 285, JR, 1V)
71 - Sam DeMartinis (6-5, 293, SO, SQ)
78 - Justin Prueitt (6-5, 280, JR, SQ)
66 - Charles Ragland (6-8, 285, FR, HS)
72 - Mitchell Schwartz (6-6, 335, SO, 1V)
76 - Charles Siddoway (6-7, 325, FR, HS)
79 - Mike Tepper (6-7, 319, SR, 2V)
Although the Bears lost a pair of starters in All-America center Alex Mack and All-Pac-10 guard Noris Malele, Cal has seven players back on the offensive line that have collegiate starting experience.
"We expect that the offensive line will be a strength of our team in 2009," offered Tedford. "We are excited about the balance of playing experience and young emerging talent that this group possesses."
Much of that experience lies with senior Mike Tepper, who has been granted a sixth season of eligibility after missing all of 2008 with a pectoral injury. A starter for all 13 games at right tackle in 2007, he is expected to man the left tackle position this year. Sophomore Mitchell Schwartz earned Freshman All-America notice in 2008 after starting all 13 games - three times at right tackle and the final 10 contests at left tackle. He is expected to move back to right tackle with the return of Tepper to the starting lineup.
Junior Mark Boskovich and senior Chet Teofilo are slated to be the team's starting guards. Boskovich, a first-team Pac-10 All-Academic selection in 2008, started the club's final 10 games at left guard last year and is expected to return in the role. Teofilo plans to move inside to the right guard position after making each of his eight starts over the past two seasons at tackle. He missed the team's final six games a year ago with an ankle injury.
Junior Chris Guarnero is back at full strength and should return to his more natural center spot to replace Mack, a first-round selection by the Cleveland Browns in the 2009 NFL Draft. Guarnero started the team's first three games last season at left guard before an injured toe kept him out the rest of the campaign.
In addition, junior tackle Donovan Edwards and sophomore guard Justin Cheadle earned starts in 2008 with Edwards in the lineup for the team's final six games at right tackle and Cheadle making his sole start at right guard vs. Oregon.
True freshman newcomers include highly touted center Mark Brazinski (Basking Ridge, NJ/Immaculata HS), guards Ed Johnston (Fairfield, CA/Armijo HS) and Brian Schwenke (Oceanside, CA/Oceanside HS), and tackles Charles Ragland (Denver, CO/Mullen HS) and Charles Siddoway (Eugene, OR/Sheldon HS).
Utilizing a new 3-4 alignment, Cal ranked among the top defensive units in the country last year, finishing among the nation's top 30 in most key statistical categories. The Bears have eight starters returning this season, including their entire contingents along the defensive line and in the defensive backfield. Cal will need to replace three starters at linebacker.
NOSE GUARD (5)
50 - Kevin Bemoll (6-4, 334, SR, 1V)
57 - Austin Clark (6-0, 250, FR, HS)
77 - Michael Costanzo (6-2, 296, JR, 1V)
76 - Derrick Hill (6-2, 302, JR, 2V)
96 - Kendrick Payne (6-2, 300, RFR, RS)
DEFENSIVE END (8)
44 - Tyson Alualu (6-3, 295, SR, 3V)
47 - Keith Browner (6-6, 268, JR, 1V)
91 - Deandre Coleman (6-6, 309, FR, HS)
92 - Trevor Guyton (6-3, 285, SO, 1V)
97 - Cameron Jordan (6-4, 287, JR, 2V)
56 - Keni Kaufusi (6-2, 275, FR, HS)
95 - Ernest Owusu (6-4, 268, SO, 1V)
40 - Aaron Tipoti (6-2, 281, RFR, RS)
Senior Tyson Alualu and junior Cameron Jordan give Cal a pair of the top defensive ends in the Pac-10. Junior nose guard Derrick Hill also returns to give the Golden Bears a strong first group in the trenches.
Alualu, a second-team All-Pac-10 choice in 2008 who has already earned honorable mention preseason All-American honors this year, is projected to go high in the 2010 NFL Draft and would love to have an impressive final collegiate season to raise his stock even further. Last year, he had the most tackles (62) by a Cal defensive lineman since 1995 and played in all 13 games for the third year in a row, while starting all 13 contests for the second consecutive campaign. Alualu added 6.0 sacks, 11.0 TFL and a pair of forced fumbles.
Jordan claimed honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors in 2008, when he tallied 47 takedowns, 4.0 sacks and 11.0 TFL, which equals Alualu for the most stops behind the line of scrimmage by any returning Bear. He also added two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception, starting seven of the 12 games in which he played.
Hill, who earned nine starts last season in the middle of Cal's base 3-4 set, is expected to be a force in the middle once again. Last year, he recorded 29 tackles, 2.5 TFL and 0.5 sacks, while doing an excellent job controlling the line of scrimmage.
Other returnees who have made strides at defensive end and are looking to provide depth to Alualu and Jordan include junior Keith Browner, sophomores Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu, and redshirt freshman Aaron Tipoti. Deandre Coleman (Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) and Keni Kaufusi (Salt Lake City, UT/Cottonwood HS) are the incoming players at the position.
In the middle, redshirt freshman Kendrick Payne is slotted to be Hill's main backup. The other two returning veterans are senior Kevin Bemoll and junior Michael Costanzo. Freshman Austin Clark (Tampa, FL/Plant HS) is the team's lone newcomer at the spot.
90 - Simon Aigamaua (6-1, 246, SO, SQ)
10 - Devin Bishop (6-1, 239, SR, 1V)
93 - Dan Camporeale (6-3, 235, FR, HS)
22 - Ryan Davis (6-4, 247, JR, JC)
42 - Steven Fanua (6-1, 203, FR, HS)
3 - D.J. Holt (6-1, 250, SO, 1V)
34 - J.P. Hurrell (6-0, 205, FR, HS)
43 - Charles Johnson (6-1, 232, JR, 1V)
30 - Mychal Kendricks (6-0, 230, SO, 1V)
4 - Chris Little (6-2, 224, RFR, RS)
55 - Jerome Meadows (6-3, 240, JR, JC)
18 - Mike Mohamed (6-3, 237, JR, 2V)
37 - Robert Mullins (5-11, 222, RFR, RS)
13 - Jarred Price (5-11, 218, JR, JC)
45 - Nick Rosato (6-1, 230, RFR, RS)
9 - Eddie Young (6-0, 239, SR, 2V)
Cal's defense took its biggest hit at linebacker with the graduation of starting senior trio Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams. But the Bears appear to have the necessary depth to fill the vacant spots with quality personnel.
"Even though we have lost three outstanding players from this group, our linebackers should still be a strength of this team," explained Tedford. Senior Eddie Young has the most starting experience of any returnees after he was in the lineup for the first snap in 11 of the 12 games he played in a year ago at an outside spot.
Junior Mike Mohamed, who has the ability to play any of the four spots, is arguably the team's top returnee and expected to start on the inside this season after earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors as a reserve last year. Despite making just two starts at outside linebacker a year ago, Mohamed's 87 tackles ranked tied for second on the team with Follett. Senior Devin Bishop and sophomore Mychal Kendricks have both made a push to earn starting nods alongside Young and Mohamed.\
Junior college transfers Ryan Davis (Los Angeles, CA/Artesia HS/Cerritos College), Jerome Meadows (Spartanburg, SC/Broome HS/San Jose CC) and Jarred Price (Dallas, TX/Madison HS/Blinn College) are all expected to be in the mix as well.
The other returning linebackers on the roster include sophomore Simon Aigamaua and redshirt freshman Nick Rosato.
27 - Charles Amadi (5-10, 186, JR, 2V)
2 - Marc Anthony (6-0, 194, RFR, RS)
17 - Chris Conte (6-3, 205, JR, 2V)
26 - Darian Hagan (6-0, 186, JR, 2V)
23 - Josh Hill (5-11, 194, RFR, RS)
15 - Bryant Nnabuife (6-1, 190, JR, 1V)
24 - Vachel Samuels (6-0, 175, FR, HS)
5 - Syd'Quan Thompson (5-9, 191, SR, 3V)
1 - Steve Williams (5-10, 160, FR, HS)
20 - Jesse Brooks (5-11, 197, SR, 2V)
7 - D.J. Campbell (6-0, 198, SO, 1V)
11 - Sean Cattouse (6-2, 206, SO, 1V)
21 - Tyré Ellison (6-2, 184, RFR, RS)
29 - Marcus Ezeff (5-11, 219, SR, 3V)
25 - Brett Johnson (6-1, 194, SR, 3V)
6 - Alex Logan (6-2, 190, FR, HS)
8 - Chris Moncrease (6-2, 215, SO, JC)
Cal's defensive backs are arguably the top returning position group on the team with all four starting members of the secondary returning from a unit that surrendered only 12 touchdown passes a year ago. The group features a trio of seniors in 2009 preseason All-American cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, and the starting safety tandem of Marcus Ezeff and Brett Johnson. The other returning starter is junior cornerback Darian Hagan.
"I truly believe that we have one of the best defensive backfields in the country," said a confident Tedford about a group that was ranked as the nation's No. 6 defensive backfield in Lindy's preview magazine.
Thompson, who is on the watch list for The Lott Trophy in 2009, has 32 passes defended over his career with six interceptions and 26 pass breakups. Thompson has started all 39 games possible in his first three seasons at Cal and is the team's active career leader in tackles (208), as well as interceptions, passes defended and pass breakups. Last year, he led the team's defensive backs with 70 tackles and all Golden Bears with four interceptions. His 18 passes defended tied Hagan for the team lead, while his 14 pass breakups were second to Hagan. He also added 7.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks.
Ezeff moved into a full-time starting role in 2008 and responded by recording 66 tackles to rank fifth on the team and second among defensive backs behind Thompson. He also came up with three picks, six pass breakups, a fumble recovery and 1.0 TFL. Hagan had three interceptions to go with his team-high 15 pass breakups, team-high-tying 18 passes defended, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble, 2.5 TFL and 56 tackles in his first year as a starter.
Johnson has appeared in more games for Cal (36) than anyone else in the defensive backfield other than Thompson, but last year was his first as a starting safety. He made nine of his 10 career starts in 2008 and finished with 43 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.
Cal also has a plethora of talented depth in its secondary with the likes of junior cornerback Chris Conte and sophomore safety Sean Cattouse leading the group. Conte has flirted with a full-time role as a starter in the past, collecting four starts in his first two seasons. Cattouse got a taste of a starting role with two starts in 2008 and also picked off a pair of passes while in his role as a reserve.
Juniors Charles Amadi and Bryant Nnabuife are joined by redshirt freshmen Marc Anthony and Josh Hill to give the Bears additional returning depth at cornerback. Vachel Samuels (Lynwood, CA/Lynwood HS) and Steve Williams (Dallas, TX/Skyline HS) join the cornerback crew as freshmen.
At the safety position, additional returnees include senior Jesse Brooks, sophomore D.J. Campbell and redshirt freshman Tyré Ellison. Freshman Alex Logan (Denver, CO/Mullen HS) will be joined by sophomore Chris Moncrease (El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS/Laney College) as the team's newcomers at the position.
19 - Bryan Anger (6-4, 199, SO, 1V)
Punter Bryan Anger is back for his sophomore campaign and has already claimed first-team preseason All-America status in 2009 after picking up second-team All-Pac-10 and first-team Freshman All-American honors last year. The only freshman named a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter, Anger averaged 43.1 yards per punt in 2008 to rank fifth on Cal's all-time single-season list and also had the three longest punts in the Pac-10 with boots of 76, 75 and 72 yards.
The battle for kicking duties could include three participants. Sophomore David Seawright earned starting placekicking duties at the start of last season and made 5-of-7 field goals over the first five games before a groin injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Fellow sophomore Giorgio Tavecchio, who joined the team just three days before its first game in 2008, filled in the rest of the way and was 9-for-13 on field goals. Both Seawright (26-26) and Tavecchio (25-25) were perfect on extra points in 2008. Both are expected to compete for the starting job in 2009 along with incoming freshman Vince D'Amato (Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS).
At long snapper, redshirt freshman Matt Rios looks to take over for the graduated Nick Sundberg, who held the position for four years. Redshirt freshman Steven Callaway (Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) has transferred from Nebraska and is the team's other long snapper.
Sophomore quarterback Brock Mansion is slated to do the team's holding with Anger his backup.
The Bears are also solid in the return game with Thompson and Best resuming their roles returning punts and kicks, respectively. Thompson averaged 12.3 yards on punt returns in 2008 to rank among the Pac-10 (No. 4) and NCAA (No. 21) leaders with one of his returns going 73 yards for a score vs. Colorado State. Best led the Pac-10 with a 26.3 average on kick returns a year ago (No. 21 NCAA). Junior Jeremy Ross and sophomore Shane Vereen are the secondary returnees on punts and kicks, respectively. Ross will be new in his role returning punts but has experience returning kicks last year when he returned one more (17) than Best for a total of 337 yards and an average of 19.8 yards per return.
"We have some of the best specialists in the country in Anger, Best and Thompson," said Tedford. "It will also be important that we get a solid performance from our placekickers and a new long snapper. I am confident that the players stepping into those spots will do a great job."
2009 PRESEASON NOTES
OFFENSE QUICK NOTES
Cal has averaged at least 30.0 points per game in six of the last seven years after averaging 32.6 in 2008.
Cal has won 22 straight games in which the Bears have scored 30 or more points.
Cal features a Heisman Trophy candidate in junior running back Jahvid Best, who rushed for 1,580 yards last season and is the nation's leading returning rusher.
Cal features first-year offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who was at the helm of Utah's offense last year, when the Utes were 13-0 and finished ranked second in the nation.
Cal is expected to start 2009 training camp with a three-way competition for the starting quarterback spot between junior Kevin Riley, sophomore Brock Mansion and redshirt freshman Beau Sweeney.
Cal returns four of its top six pass catchers from 2008 in senior wide receiver Nyan Boateng, Best, fellow running back Shane Vereen and junior wide receiver Jeremy Ross.
DEFENSE QUICK NOTES
Cal returns eight defensive starters from a team that ranked among the nation's best in nearly every defensive category last year. The Golden Bears return their entire defensive line and defensive backfield.
Cal's 2009 defense features a first-team preseason All-American and a Lott Trophy candidate in senior cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson. Senior defensive end Tyson Alualu has also earned 2009 honorable mention preseason All-American recognition.
The Golden Bears will need to replace three starting linebackers from 2008 in Anthony Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams.
SPECIAL TEAMS QUICK NOTES
Cal returns all starting members from its kicking and return games in sophomores Bryan Anger (punter), David Seawright and Giorgio Tavecchio (placekickers), Best (kick return) and Thompson (punt return).
Anger has earned first-team 2009 preseason All-America honors as a punter, while Best (tailback) and Thompson (cornerback) have picked up the same recognition at their primary positions.
MISCELLANEOUS QUICK NOTES
Head coach Jeff Tedford begins the season with a 59-30 all-time record as a head coach, needing just nine more wins to move past the legendary Pappy Waldorf as the all-time modern era win leader at Cal.
Cal is ranked as high as No. 9 in preseason publications, where the Golden Bears stand in Phil Steele's College Football Preview.
Cal has played in a school-record six straight bowls and also has a current school mark intact with four consecutive bowl wins.
2003 Insight Bowl Cal 52, Virginia Tech 49 2004 Holiday Bowl Texas Tech 45, Cal 31 2005 Las Vegas Bowl Cal 35, BYU 28 2006 Holiday Bowl Cal 45, Texas A&M 10 2007 Armed Forces Bowl Cal 42, Air Force 36 2008 Emerald Bowl Cal 24, Miami 17
Cal has recorded seven consecutive winning seasons (2002-08) to move within one winning campaign of tying the school football record of eight consecutive years from 1918-25. The Bears did record 10 consecutive winning campaigns from 1907-16 but those were split between rugby (8, 1907-14) and football (2, 1915-16).
TEDFORD TEAMS ON TOP
Cal's 59 victories in its first seven seasons under head coach Jeff Tedford are the most wins during a seven-year span in school history. All seven of Tedford's teams have had winning seasons with at least seven victories in each. Tedford's teams have recorded at least eight wins to equal Andy Smith and Pappy Waldorf as the school's all-time leaders. He also fares well among all-time Pac-10 coaches and is just one of four in the history of the conference to record winning seasons in each of his first seven campaigns at the helm. He is also 6-1 in seven career Big Games against Stanford.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS AND WATCH LISTS
Sophomore punter Bryan Anger, junior running back Jahvid Best and senior defensive back Syd'Quan Thompson have all earned first team preseason All-America honors in 2009. Best is also one of the nation's leading Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker Award candidates. Anger is on the Ray Guy Award watch list, while Thompson is on the watch list for The Lott Trophy. Senior defensive lineman Tyson Alualu has added a 2009 honorable mention preseason All-America selection.
SIMPLY THE BEST
A quick look at Heisman Trophy candidate Jahvid Best's bio shows him as the nation's top returnee in both average per game all-purpose (187.3) and rushing (131.67) yards after ranking second and third in the country in the categories last season, respectively. Some of his other impressive numbers from 2008 included a pair of school records with an 8.1 yards per carry season average and 311 yards in a single game vs. Washington, three 200-yard games, eight 100-yard contests and big-play capability with 19 rushes of 20 or more yards, seven of 60+ yards and three runs of 80 or more.
BEST OF THE BUNCH
Jahvid Best's 1,580 yards rushing in 2008 is second all-time at Cal and marks the seventh consecutive season in which a Golden Bear running back has gained over 1,000 yards on the ground. Cal is one of only three Football Bowl Subdivision schools to have accomplished the feat and is only three seasons from equaling USC's 10-year run from 1972-81. Joe Igber started the current trend when he became the first Cal player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in nine seasons in 2002.
Cal's 1,000-Yard Rushers Since 2002
2008 Jahvid Best 1,580 2007 Justin Forsett 1,546 2006 Marshawn Lynch 1,356 2005 Marshawn Lynch 1,246 2004 J.J. Arrington 2,018 2003 Adimchinobe Echemandu 1,195 2002 Joe Igber 1,130
Cal has had 74 players claim Pac-10 All-Academic honors in seven seasons under head coach Jeff Tedford. Last year, Alex Mack earned the Draddy Trophy, often referred to as the Academic Heisman, and was one of a Pac-10-high-tying four players that earned first-team All-Academic recognition from the conference.
During the Jeff Tedford era, Cal has played five road games in other time zones that have started before 12 pm, PT. The Golden Bears have a 4-1 record in those games and had won four in a row with victories at Illinois (2003), Air Force (2004, 2007) and Colorado State (2007) before falling at Maryland in 2008. This year, Cal's game at Minnesota in the Golden Gophers' first-year stadium on September 19 has a starting time of 9 am, PT.
Winning the turnover battle has been emphasized since Jeff Tedford's arrival on campus in 2002. During his seven seasons at Cal, the Bears are 34-3 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponents compared to 13-19 when opponents win the battle (12-8 tied). In Pac-10 games, the stats are even more decisive as Cal is 22-1 with a positive margin and 7-17 with a deficit (7-5 tied).
Cal has been unbeaten at home in three of the past five seasons (2004, '06, '08) and posted a 27-4 record at Memorial Stadium during the span. The only two teams to have beaten Cal on its home turf during the five-year period are Oregon State (10/15/05, 10/13/07) and USC (11/12/05, 11/10/07).
LARGE CROWDS, AGAIN
Cal averaged 61,634 fans per contest in 2008 to mark the fourth time in the last five years the Bears have drawn more than 60,000 per game. In terms of pure numbers, Cal attracted its second-highest total ever in 2008 with 431,437 fans attending seven home dates. Only the 2006 season, which drew 450,223 fans and averaged a record 64,318 spectators per contest, has had a larger total final home attendance count. Cal has also drawn at least 50,000 fans for each of its last 31 home games spanning the past five seasons.
Cal has two new coaches on board in 2009 with the addition of offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and offensive line coach Steve Marshall. Ludwig had been the offensive coordinator at Utah for the last four seasons, leading one of the best offenses in the country that was largely responsible for a 13-0 record in 2008, the country's only unbeaten mark by a Football Bowl Subdivision team, and a No. 2 final national ranking. Marshall has most recently coached for six NFL seasons with the Houston Texans (2002-05) and Cleveland Browns (2007-08).
BEARS ON TV
For the first two seasons in school history, every Cal football game has been televised over the past two years. In Jeff Tedford's seven campaigns at the helm, a total of 73 Cal football contests have been televised compared to just 41 in the previous seven years before his arrival.
BEARS PLAY ON SUNDAY, TOO
As of press time, a total of 38 former Cal football players were either currently on an NFL roster and/or are NFL free agents that have been on an NFL roster at some point since the 2009 NFL Draft.
Cal has been successful in openers during the Jeff Tedford era, going a perfect 4-0 when opening the season at home and 5-2 overall.