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2021 Cal Football Positional Preview: Wide Receivers
Blocking, running, catching, and Mossing.
Cal only averaged a Pac-12 rock bottom 192.8 passing yards in the 4 game season. High a high of 315 yards against Oregon State and a low of 122 yards against UCLA. This translated to poor counting stats for any of our receivers.
Yet, surprisingly we only had two departures from the list above and two additions from the 2021 recruiting class.
Arrivals and Departures
The two arrivals are Mavin Anderson (247 4*/Rivals 3*) and J.Michael Sturdivant (Consensus 4*, Top 200 recruit). Both are coming in with different skills sets and you can see the detailed breakdowns in the links in their names. Here are some excerpts of what to expect from our own SG Bear.
What I like about Mavin’s game apart from his speed potential, is his acceleration. He has explosive change-of-pace out of the break to give him good separation. He is also been coached well enough to head upfield and get what he can rather try to shake-and-bake his way to glory. Some things he might need to work on are his speeding up his game off the snap, his blocking, and more WR tools beyond the basic plant-and-go strategy that made him so successful in HS. That being said, those last tools are the difference between fast-but-not-playing (Monroe Young) and not-as-fast-but-playing (Makai Polk). I suspect that he’ll immediately compete for rotational playing time.
Some upside includes his footwork and route running. I mean, he showed one very good out route in the reel, but I want to see more where he can show the complete toolkit of footwork to get open in the Pac-12. Unlike other recruits where I am thinking that he’ll be good **if** he learns required skills, I am thinking he’ll be good regardless, but may be unstoppable if his underneath routes are developed. His other stuff is that good.
Outside of this, the two departures from the table above is Makai Polk who transferred to Mike Leach’s Miss. State and Drew Schlegel who is still in the transfer portal.
What to Expect: Piotr Edition.
The starting WR trio will remain the same: Kekoa Crawford (#11), Nikko Remigio (#4), and Trevon Clark (#80). Behind them is the 2nd year duo of Jeremiah Hunter (#10), Justin Richard Baker (#22), and 3rd year man in Monroe Young (#14).
Note: In modern football offenses, there isn’t much of a distinction between X, Y, F, Slot, Z receivers. That is, these letters will be on the X’s and O’s chart but each of our receivers should be able to play each of the above positions with some competence, Nikko won’t just be a Slot, and Kekoa might even line up at Y.
We know what to expect from the starting trio: the trust between Chase and Nikko, Crawford's all-around skillset will keep him on the field, and Clark’s large frame and reach for jump balls down the sideline (a la his clutch catch against Stanford in 2019).
What we are missing however is an element of speed and big-play potential. All three above don’t have the individual ability to “make something happen” the same way Baker and Hunter can. For Baker, it’s the ability to turn a jet sweep hand-off into an explosive play with 1 jump cut, or Hunter being able to Moss any DB in the end zone or just outrun the larger DBs that will have to cover him.
The issue then is how can Chase maximize the WRs, and how the offense caters to their individual strengths. Musgrave has shown that he can scheme guys open (see TD to Nikko against Oregon), what remains is to see if he can do so for the rest of the guys by stealing plays from across football.
There is plenty of speed, size, ability, and confidence in the WR group. Will that amount to anything? Or will we suffer another subpar passing offense due to the failure to adapt to the strengths of our players?