by Tim Miguel
BERKELEY – Daniel Lasco is scratching items off his checklist of the things he needs to accomplish heading into the 2013 season.
After sitting out spring ball due to a shoulder injury, he took a hit and landed on that shoulder in one of the first practices of Cal’s 2013 training camp. Lasco, who admitted that he needed to get his pads lower and had been running high thus far in fear of reinjuring the shoulder, hopped up off the ground and felt fine.
Recover from previous injury…check.
Now it’s time to start working towards earning a spot as one of the Golden Bears’ primary running backs this season.
“It feels good to be back out there doing the same things that everybody else is doing,” Lasco said. “I don’t have to be pulled back and watch from the sidelines.”
Wednesday’s practice marked the third session of training camp. Following Tuesday’s practice, head coach Sonny Dykes had nothing but good things to say about Lasco.
“I thought Daniel Lasco looked the best that he’s looked today,” Dykes said. “He showed some signs of being able to do some things, even though it was non-contact. He’s in good shape. He’s lighter now, and he moves better on his feet. It seems like he’s more comfortable with what we’re trying to do offensively.”
Earn praise from the head coach…check.
Dykes isn’t the only guy on the squad who is noticing the hard work Lasco has been putting into the program.
Junior Brendan Bigelow, who is also a strong contender to be one of Cal’s primary running backs this season, was impressed with how hard Lasco fought to recover from the shoulder injury and get back out on the field. Bigelow would know the feeling since he also missed spring ball due to injury.
Bigelow said there’s no doubt that Lasco wants to make a name from himself at Cal. He said he can see it in his eyes.
“He really wants this,” Bigelow said. “Anybody who hasn’t played that much is going to be a little nervous, but he’s getting more comfortable, getting more reps and getting a better feel for the game. There’s no stopping him. This is a similar offense like what he ran in high school. We’ve both been in the spread offense. It’s not like this is brand new to us.”
Lasco and Bigelow have had a lot of time to develop a bond with each other. Neither of the two saw action during spring ball. Instead, they stood on the sidelines and were forced to learn as much as possible from only watching. Lasco said Bigelow would ask him questions about what he should be doing on certain plays, which in turn helped Lasco learn the system better himself.
Be a mentor to his teammates…check.
In recent history, Cal football has thrived on one-two punches in the backfield. Last year, Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson extended Cal’s streak of having two running backs combine to rush for 1,500 yards to 10 years.
But if you ask Lasco about stats and personal accomplishments, those feats are not on his checklist.
“I’m trying to be a leader on the offense, push everybody to push themselves and our overall goal is to get to the Rose Bowl or any bowl game for that matter,” Lasco said. “Just be the best you can be, whatever that may entail. Anything that I can possibly do to help us win, I’m going to do it. I’m not thinking about personal stats. I’m not focusing on myself.”
Be a team player…check.
There is one accomplishment that Lasco remembers fondly. It was the play that he considers his favorite collegiate moment up to this point.
Last season in Cal’s 50-31 victory over Southern Utah, Lasco rattled off a career-long 77-yard touchdown run. Lasco admits the play was one of a bit of redemption. He claims he messed up and didn’t hit his hole on a rushing attempt two plays prior.
“I should have scored on the first play that they threw me in for but I was still nervous,” he said. “I missed my hole, and I was really disappointed. Two plays after that, I was just running to the outside. I knew I had big Freddie [Tagaloa] blocking for me, and once I saw him take his guy all the way to the sideline, I just cut underneath it and thought it was too good to be true. After that, it was just off to the races. About halfway, I was getting nervous. I thought maybe there was a penalty or something would happen to bring the play back. But I got into the end zone, everybody started celebrating with me and it’s been the highlight of my college career so far.”
If Lasco keeps working as hard as he has been, he should have plenty more opportunities for highlights that will surpass his run against Southern Utah.
So what’s next on the checklist?
Help the Bears get back into the bowl picture. Cal fans alike hope that gets checked off in 2013.
The 2013 season, and the Sonny Dykes era, begins on Saturday, Aug. 31, when Cal faces No. 22 Northwestern in the season opener at Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN 2. The Bears have partnered with Accelar Transportation and the new Cal Bears Experience to bring all fans $19 game tickets in the south end zone, while supplies last. Fans can buy tickets at CalBears.com.
In addition to all of the content that can be found on CalBears.com about the 2013 season, fans will have the opportunity to get an all-access inside look at Cal football during the first season of the Sonny Dykes era through The Drive, a new series that will air in 14 episodes on the Pac-12 Networks this fall.
The Drive will debut with an hour-long special on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. PT that will focus on summer training camp and the first two games of the 2013 season. For the subsequent 13 weeks, the program will be 30 minutes and air twice each Wednesday across all seven networks (7 and 9:30 p.m.). Check the Pac-12 Networks TV Schedule for additional repeats of the show, or visit pac-12.com/switch for information on how to get the Pac-12 Networks.
Cal will host seven games at Memorial Stadium in 2013 beginning with three in a row against non-conference opponents Northwestern (Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m. PT, ESPN2), Portland State (Sept. 7, 2 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks) and Ohio State (Sept. 14, 4 p.m., FOX). Cal will also play Pac-12 home games against Washington State on Homecoming Weekend (Oct. 5), Oregon State (Oct. 19), Arizona (Nov. 2) and USC (Nov. 9).
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