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Cal Football

Bears Return to Practice, Early Focus is Development

December 7, 2018

The Cal football team was back on the Memorial Stadium field Friday in its first practice leading up to the Dec. 26 date with TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl.

The Bears did not get into actual game preparation in the first of their 15 allotted on-field sessions. The focus was directed more toward next year than the upcoming contest. While the regulars did most of their work in the weight room and the training quarters, the field was left to younger players, who had the rare opportunity for serious work under the close supervision of the coaching staff.

“It was developmental focus,” head coach Justin Wilcox said. “The high-rep guys, the Addison Ooms and Evan Weavers, the guys that have played a lot of reps, they had weight room and conditioning, focusing on their bodies, doing a little stretching. They had a little spin class.

“And then we got a lot of work with the developmental guys, maybe guys who played fewer reps or were redshirting. That crew we went really in depth with,and we will do the same thing again tomorrow and Sunday, and it will change a little bit next weekend.”

Wilcox puts great value in the time to work with the younger players. “It’s really important. This is an extra spring ball,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll get quite a season’s worth, but they’ll get a lot of reps … If you were an inside linebacker you probably got 50 reps today, individual, 7-on-7, those things add up. ...For them it’s no different from fall camp.

“We utilize this time. It’s not just come out here, let’s have fun and we get to go to a bowl game. This is practice and we’ve got to get better.”

Running back Patrick Laird, obviously one of those who did not take the field, said he intends to stress his young teammates the value in these early practices.

“I haven’t had too much of an opportunity to. I was just talking to the running backs,” he said. “
“Chris Brown is pretty tired out there. I was telling him these are the days you are going to be talking about a couple of years from now. So just enjoy it and get better.”s


Coach’s New Deal


This was the first time Wilcox had met with the media since his contract extension was announced.

“The fact that we have support and they believe in what we’re doing from the Chancellor down to the athletic director, we are all fortunate to be here,” he said when asked what the extension, which runs through 2023, means. “We all understand that. And stability in the program, recruiting and the players. We have a good thing going. I say it all the time, we’re a work in progress, a lot of positive things happening here, and it’s great to have that support.”

And it certainly figures into the recruiting process.

“It comes up at some point in every player’s recruitment,” he said, adding that while the contract is nice, nothing is iron-clad.. “We know the realities of college football. And it’s a high pressure environment, we all sign up for that. I don’t know that you can guarantee somebody that (he’ll last five more years)  because you don’t have complete control over that, I think what your intentions are and for the program and it shows. It’s exciting for the recruits and everybody in our program.”

One big aspect of the agreement was an increased salary pool for the assistants.

“We have such a great group of coaches and support staff,we’re all fortunate that they’re here, I am and the university is,’ Wilcox said. “We know people are going to call and try to hire those guys because they are really good at what they do. I want the best for them and their families. Those guys will have opportunities to grow in their careers.I always want to help them in that way. But we want to make it tough (to go elsewhere). . My job is to create an environment  where coaches want to be here. It’s a great place to grow and learn and make it really hard to leave.”

Laird appreciates the stability.

“It’s awesome for the program,” he said. “From my perspective he’s the right guy to lead Cal football to the highest level of college football and think he did a really good job in the last two and half years, I was happy for him.

“Continuity is important in college football, especially if you want to be successful. It’s my fifth season, I’ve had a new position coach every year. If you have a guy at the top who is going to stick around and keep the culture the same I think it helps the young guys. We had some recruits on the field today and it’s obviously good for them to see something like that.”

Weaver agrees.

“It’s awesome to me especially,” Weaver said. “I got one more year left here and another five years for him. It’s really good, he’s such a quality person. Maybe we’ll get paid one of these days (snicker), but I’m not saying anything. It’s cool with recruits coming and being able to see that stability with the coach. And the university is fully invested in him is awesome and it’s going to be awesome in the future.”


Other Items


  • The Bears will practice Saturday and Sunday then have the rest of the week off. They resume on Friday, Dec. 14 and work the next two days. The following week they will have some midweek sessions.
  • They leave for Phoenix Dec. 23.
  • As a finalist for the Burlsworth Award, given annually to an outstanding player who started his career as a walk-on, Laird was in Arkansas for the early part of the week. “It was incredible. I was actually blown away about how the event is put on,” Laird said. “The job they do to honor Brandon Burlsworth. It’s his family that runs it and they do a lot of amazing work. The event itself was awesome. The two other finalists Hunter Ronfrow (the winner) and Marcus Epps are great guys. Any of us could have won and I would have been happy.”


Discussion from...

Bears Return to Practice, Early Focus is Development

5,078 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 5 yr ago by Big C
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Sounds like Weaver is coming back. Nice.
Big C
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"I've got one more year left here... " That's what jumped out at me, too. Yes!
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