Freshmen Receivers Battle for Immediate Playing Time
August 11, 1998
BERKELEY, Calif. - For most freshmen football players, the normal routine calls for their careers to start with a redshirt season, giving them a chance to learn the system, become more familiar with their surroundings and gain the strength and confidence necessary to compete at the Division I level. But, for Cal's wide receivers, this year is no ordinary year.
Faced with a lack of depth at that position, the Golden Bear coaches went out and signed a bumper crop of receiving recruits in February, with at least two of them expected to contribute this fall.
Outside of senior Dameane Douglas, who hauled in 53 catches for 610 yards and three scores last year, no other returning wide receiver had more than three receptions in '97. With that in mind, there is an added importance to developing several freshmen for the opener.
The highly touted rookie wideouts began preparations for the 1998 season with the rest of the freshman class last Friday in Berkeley. They'll join the veterans when the entire team travels to Turlock for its 10-day camp on the Stanislaus State campus, beginning Aug. 13.
However, the competition to see who will earn the right to suit up this season is well underway. With only a few practice sessions under their belts, it's apparent that all of the receivers are out to prove that they belong on the field this fall.
"It's very competitive," said offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Doug Cosbie. "You can see that they're all watching each other in the workouts. It's a good situation for everybody. So far, they've all had a great attitude. It's going to be a matter of who can pick up the system and make the adjustments playing at this level."
Each of the players is aware of what is on the line over the next few weeks, knowing that the difference between who plays and who redshirts may hinge on a missed route or a spectacular catch. Though they seem to be thriving on the competition, team goals still appear to take on a greater importance then individual ones.
Said Macha: "There's competition, but it's kind of like a little family. We're looking forward to working hard together and accomplishing great things in the future. There's competition with anything, but more so it's a matter of working hard and working together to accomplish the ultimate goal."
Cosbie said the coaching staff would like to make a decision on who plays this year by the end of training camp. But if the competition is too close to call, Cal's staff may wait until a week before the Sept. 5 Houston opener before determining which players will be on the field against the Cougars.
So the pressure is on, not only for the players to perform, but also for the coaches to make the right decisions for the 1998 season.