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May 3, 2009

Spring Ball's Hot 11

Before we begin our coverage of the summer workouts next week, we revisit Spring Ball and denote some of the standouts of the competitive four-week session for the Cal football team. There were several players that performed exceptionally well this spring year, including a handful of athletes on the defensive side of the ball. But, the No. 1 player on our list is a dynamic playmaker that could really give the Bears' offense a major boost this upcoming season if he can carry his momentum into Fall Camp and beyond. Click inside to check out BearTerritory's "Hot 11."

Before the spring season began, our first preview article highlighting the team surrounded sophomore wide receiver Marvin Jones. A former Rivals.com 4-star pass-catcher out of Etiwanda (Calif.) High in SoCal, we could very easily tell that the silky-smooth Jones was primed for a breakout camp. And after Spring Ball was over, it was clear who earned the right to be named the top breakout performer.

Jones was the top gun for a wide receiving corps that will be watched very closely this season.

Note: This overview is a BearTerritory.net feature and is no way reflective of Cal coaching staff opinion.


BearTerritory Hot 11
Marvin Jones, wide receiver, 6-2, 190, Sophomore

Comment: For a unit that is still plagued with bouts of inconsistency, the young wide out certainly stood out from the rest this spring. Jones had his freshman season end early last year due to a knee injury but showed he is 100 percent healthy. It's difficult to compare Jones to a former Cal receiver because he doesn't remind you of any one athlete but there's no doubt the silky smooth pass-catcher will make an impact on the field this season. Jones made the most plays, ran the best routes, slid away from the most defenders and dropped the least amount of balls of any receiver on the roster this spring. For a team that many observers feel are a passing game away from seriously challenging for a BCS bid, Jones could very well be the key to the upcoming year.

Tyson Alualu, defensive End, 6-2, 295, Senior

Comment: Of all the units on the squad, the defensive line produced the best overall effort this spring. Leading the charge was the quiet leader Alualu, who went about his business in typical Tyson form. Alualu earned All Pac-10 honors last season and his play this spring showed that he picked up right where last season left off. Alualu was a handful for the offensive linemen to handle and at times was simply unblockable despite heavy attention on both pass and run plays. Alualu's production should only increase this upcoming season.

Cameron Jordan, defensive end, 6-4, 287, Junior

Comment: Is the Arizona native on the verge of truly breaking through this season? Probably. Jordan has gotten better every week he's been in a Cal uniform and that continued this spring. Despite all the various moving parts that develop during the course of a single play, it was hard not to notice Jordan on a lot of snaps. Much like Alualu, the athletic Jordan was simply unblockable at times. In fact, there were more than a couple instances when Jordan simply ran over the player trying to block him. With Alualu playing on the other side, Jordan should see plenty of opportunities to make big plays this upcoming season.

Kendrick Payne, nose tackle, 6-2, 300, Freshman

Comment: Talk about a motivated youngster. Payne played like a grizzled vet all spring, holding down the nose tackle position with relentless force and authority that will make folks around the program very happy this upcoming season. Playing a position where the wear and tear is arguably higher than any other spot on the football team, Payne showed that he is fully recovered from the knee injury and surgery that ended his freshman year. Payne took on all the double teams and played with great leverage while getting his hands in on many running plays. The Cal running game as a whole wasn't super impressive this spring and Payne had a lot to do with that.

Mychal Kendricks, middle linebacker, 6-0, 230, Sophomore

Comment: No matter where the coaching staff puts him, the Fresno native finds a way to simply make plays and this spring was no different. While Kendricks can be a great asset on the edge because of his speed and overall athletic ability, the Cal staff felt it would be best to put Kendricks on the interior to play alongside Mike Mohamed. Of course, part of that might be due to the junior college edge athletes coming in the Fall, but regardless it didn't take long for Kendricks to adjust playing inside as the gifted 'backer worked his way into several tackles throughout various 11-on-11 sessions. Much like Cameron Jordan, Kendricks is one of those special athletic talents that finds ways to help his team win whenever he's on the field.

Chris Conte, defensive back, 6-3, 205, Junior

Comment: Arguably the most versatile defensive back on the roster, Conte had an excellent spring. A lot of folks forget the fact that Conte didn't lose his starting job last season because of poor play, but more because of the outstanding efforts of Darian Hagan. With Hagan sitting out the spring for academic reasons, Conte made the most of his opportunities. In fact, Conte played a handful of snaps at safety as well this spring and looked pretty natural holding down the back line. While it's likely Conte will once again be the third corner off the bench when the season rolls around, his experience and versatility is a great asset to the squad.

Kevin Riley, quarterback, 6-2, 221, Junior

Comment: While a starter more than likely won't be officially named until the latter parts of Fall Camp in August, you'll honestly be hard pressed to find anyone around the program that feels Riley won't be under center when the season kicks off against Maryland. Riley had a practice here and there this spring where he was a little more inconsistent than you probably would've liked, but overall had the best performance of the three signal-callers on the roster. Also, players on the offensive side of the ball this spring have admitted that they feel Riley has developed his leadership skills significantly over the last year, which is exactly what the team needs.

Mike Mohamed, inside linebacker, 6-3, 237, Junior

Comment: After bouncing around all over the place last season as a true utility linebacker, Mohamed settled in nicely inside this spring. One of the defensive captains and leaders this upcoming season, Mohamed continues to show that the Cal staff knew exactly what they were doing when they plucked him from the small town of Brawley (Calif.) three years ago. Mohamed is not the most athletic linebacker opponents will come across, but you'll be hard pressed to find a player that knows how to play the game better. One of the two veterans (Eddie Young) of the much talked about linebacking corps, Mohamed will be counted on to do a lot this season.

Syd'Quan Thompson, cornerback, 5-9, 187, senior

Comment: The Sacramento native briefly entertained the thought of entering the NFL draft this year but in the end decided to return to school for his final collegiate season. An All Pac-10 performer last season, Thompson is quite simply one of the best corners in the country and this spring did nothing to discount that. How good is Thompson? Even various coaches on the staff admit he doesn't really need to practice. How many players do coaches say that about?

Chris Guarnero, center, 6-2, 275, Junior

Comment: It's no secret that Cal lost arguably the greatest offensive lineman in program history this year in Alex Mack. So, the center position was a heavy focus for observers all spring. Guarnero answered all the questions and some with excellent all-around play. Although he's a little undersized even for the center position, Guarnero is a very good technician who plays with low enough leverage to be effective as a starter. Coming into the spring, the question marks surrounding the O-line had to do with what was going on inside. Guarnero's play put a lot of those questions to rest.

Brett Johnson, safety, 6-1, 194, Senior

Comment: You honestly could put any of the three safeties in this spot right here and you probably wouldn't be wrong. Although it's unlikely that any of the three safeties in the starting rotation will receive All-American status like some of the Cal corners of the past, it doesn't mean they can't play. Marcus Ezeff, Sean Cattouse and Johnson make up a very solid trio and Johnson gets his name in this spot in the end because of a stellar performance in the second spring scrimmage which saw him record double-digit tackles and put his head in on almost every play. Johnson has always been a hard hitter but has improved on defending the pass.

JUST MISSED

Comment:
Mike Tepper Welcome back, Mike
Mitchell Schwartz Will be a force at RT
Alex Lagemann Nice bounce-back spring
Marcus Ezeff Veteran leader on the backline
Sean Cattouse Rangy athlete keeps getting better
Trevor Guyton Would start for a lot of teams right now
Giorgio Tavecchio Compared to last year, ball looks a lot better coming off his foot

Other Notables

Comments:

Solomona Aigamaua, linebacker, 6-1, 246, Sophomore

Converted defensive end begins his second season playing on the outside edge

Charles Amadi, cornerback, 5-10, 186, Junior

The Fresno native improved his ball skills this spring

Bryan Anger, punter, 6-3, 199, Sophomore

The gifted kicker was a little inconsistent this spring, but is still one of the best in the country

Marc Anthony, cornerback, 6-0, 184, Freshman

The young defensive back is going to be a good one for Cal very soon

Kevin Bemoll, nose tackle, 6-4, 334, Senior

The big man could see some snaps near the goal-line like he did last season

Devin Bishop, linebacker, 6-1, 239, Senior

Bishop moved back to the outside after a brief stint inside and played up to par

Nyan Boateng, wide receiver, 6-2, 211, Senior

Cal's leading receiver was too inconsistent holding onto balls this spring, but is still the best perimeter blocker on the team

Mark Boskovich, offensive guard, 6-4, 304, Junior

Boskovich started the spring as the starter at left guard and ended as the starter

Ross Bostock, wide receiver, 6-0, 192, Freshman

Late add to the roster this spring made some nice plays down the field

Jesse Brooks, defensive back, 5-11, 197, Junior

Veteran provides good depth for a talented unit

Keith Browner, defensive end, 6-6, 268, Junior

Dorsey High alum will be one of first off the bench

D.J. Campbell, safety, 5-11, 198, Sophomore

Talented athlete had a bounce-back spring

Sean Cattouse, defensive back, 6-2, 206, Sophomore

Cattouse is an athlete that could start for a lot of teams right now

Justin Cheadle, offensive guard, 6-2, 299, Sophomore

Cheadle will be right in the mix for a starting role at either guard position

Mike Costanzo, nose tackle, 6-2, 296, Junior

Veteran provides good depth behind Hill, Payne and company.

Skylar Curran, tight end, 6-4, 256, Senior

Curran could definitely see some playing time this season

Covaughn DeBoskie, running back, 5-11, 205, Freshman

Chandler native is going to be another good one for the Bears

Sam DeMartinis, offensive tackle, 6-5, 293, Sophomore

To good see Big Sam back on the field after battling some injury issues lately

Donovan Edwards, offensive tackle, 6-foot-5, 285, Junior

Will likely be the first tackle off the bench this season

Tyre Ellison, defensive back, 6-foot-2, 184, Freshman

Walk-on made some nice plays this spring

Savai'i Eselu, tight end, 6-foot-3, 251, Sophomore

Once again was sidelined by injuries this spring

Marcus Ezeff, safety, 5-foot-11, 219 pounds, Senior

The veteran is 'ol reliable back there

Richard Fisher, offensive lineman, 6-foot-4, 290, Junior

Fish provides depth at a multitude of spots if needed

Dominic Galas, center, 6-foot-1, 281, Freshman

The young lineman has progressed very quickly

Justin Gates, offensive lineman, 6-foot-1, 281, Sophomore

Sat out most of spring due to injury

Peter Geurts, fullback, 6-foot-1, 215, Sophomore

One of the tougher athletes on the squad

Garry Graffort, tight end, 6-foot-3, 242, Junior

Could definitely see some snaps this season

Trevor Guyton, defensive end, 6-foot-3, 293, Sophomore

Washington native had an excellent spring

Darian Hagan, cornerback, 6-foot, 186, Junior

Still very much in line to start come September

Derrick Hill, nose tackle, 6-foot-2, 302, Junior

Big D says his knee is getting healthier by the day

Josh Hill, cornerback, 5-foot-9, 194, Freshman

The best way to describe Hill is "bulldog" for the way he plays

Brian Holley, fullback, 5-foot-9, 235, Senior

Will start if the season started today

D.J. Holt, linebacker, 6-foot-1, 250, Sophomore

Notched a productive spring, needs to carry that into Fall Camp

J.P. Hurrell, linebacker, 6-foot, 205, Freshman

Definitely a future starter in two years or so

Langston Jackson, running back, 6-foot-1, 227, Freshman

Provides depth to an insanely deep backfield

Charles Johnson, linebacker, 6-foot-1, 232, Junior

Sat out spring with an injury

Will Kapp, fullback, 5-foot-10, 216, Sophomore

Could the young Kapp be the fullback of the future?

Spencer Ladner, tight end, 6-foot-7, 253, Freshman

Going to push for some major minutes this season

Alex Lagemann, wide receiver, 6-foot-1, 205, Sophomore

If he can stay healthy, Lagemann is more than good enough to be in the rotation

Kevin Lewis, running back, 5-foot-9, 180, Freshman

The just moved-over-to-offense athlete looked good back there this spring

Chris Little, linebacker, 6-foot-2, 224, Freshman

The East Oakland native moved over to linebacker midway through spring and thrived

Brock Mansion, quarterback, 6-foot-5, 237, Sophomore

After starting off the spring slowly, Mansion came on strong the last week

Anthony Miller, tight end, 6-foot-3, 258, Sophomore

The most productive tight end on the roster

Robert Mullins, linebacker, 5-foot-11, 222, Freshman

Good to see Mullins get through a spring healthy

Bryant Nnabuife, defensive back, 6-foot-1, 200, Junior

The junior college transfer will be one of the first off the bench

Ernest Owusu, defensive end, 6-foot-4, 263, Sophomore

Didn't have the highlight spring like last season, but productive nonetheless

Justin Prueitt, offensive tackle, 6-foot-4, 278, Junior

First backup at right tackle for most of spring

Tyler Rigsbee, offensive tackle, 6-foot-4, 275, Freshman

Talented lineman is still a year or two away

Matt Rios, long snapper, 6-foot-1, 236, Freshman

Made a flawless transition taking over for the departed Nick Sundberg

Jeremy Ross, wide receiver, 5-foot-11, 216, Junior

Ross will be used much the same way he was last season in the offense

Matt Russi, fullback, 5-foot-9, 237, Senior

Moved to fullback this spring

Charles Satchell, wide receiver, 6-foot-2, 208, Freshman

With a strong Fall Camp, Satchell could work his way in the rotation

Mitchell Schwartz, offensive tackle, 6-foot-7, 335, Sophomore

Big Mitch will be a future pro one day

David Seawright, kicker, 6-foot-3, 223, Sophomore

Seawright is going to be right in the thick of the competition this fall

Tad Smith, tight end, 6-foot-5, 254, Senior

Prognosis on shoulder injury much better than originally thought

Jarrett Sparks, tight end, 6-foto-1, 229, Freshman

Could become the most dynamic tight end since Tony G in a couple years

Eric Stevens, fullback, 6-foot, 229, Freshman

Youngster plays with the toughness of his older brother

Matt Summers-Gavin, offensive guard, 6-foot-4, 291, Freshman

Could very well be a starter by mid-season, if not sooner

Beau Sweeney, 6-foot-2, 226, Freshman

Sweeney made the most of his opportunities this spring

Giorgio Tavecchio, kicker, 5-foot-8, 173, Sophomore

Learned how to kick a football and is now booming it down the field

Quinn Tedford, wide receiver, 5-foot-11, 158, Sophomore

Made some nice catches this spring

Chet Teofilo, offensive guard, 6-foot-3, 329, Senior

One of the more versatile linemen on the roster

Mike Tepper, offensive tackle, 6-foot-7, 310, Senior

Look for Tepp to have a monster year

Aaron Tipoti, defensive lineman, 6-foot-2, 281, Freshman

One of the bigger surprises of Spring Ball

Verran Tucker, wide receiver, 6-foot-1, 204, Senior

He'll have to fight hard for his minutes this fall

John Tyndall, fullback, 6-foot-3, 236, Sophomore

Will likely battle Holley for the top spot

Shane Vereen, running back, 5-foot-10, 198, Sophomore

Vereen was everything you could hope for this spring

Eddie Young, linebacker, 6-foot, 239, Senior

Young's experience will come in handy this season



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