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Cal Football

Three Young Receivers Ready to Contribute

May 17, 2019
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The Cal wide receiver corps will look considerably different this fall from last year’s edition.

Moe Ways and Vic Wharton III have exhausted their eligibility and Kanawai Noa and Brandon Singleton have transferred.

That leaves only Jordan Duncan, Nikko Remigio and Jeremiah Hawkins as the returnees with any significant playing experience. And only Hawkins played in all 13 games in 2018.

The Bears took a long look at their young receivers during Spring Practice. Several stood out, but here is an up-close look at three who figure to make an impact in 2019.

 

Monroe Young, 6-0, 200 redshirt freshman,  Las Cruces, New Mexico

 

Primarily a defensive back as a prep, Young  (above)  was moved to receiver by the Cal staff early on. “I played a little offense my senior year in high school, but I was mostly a defensive back,” Young said. “It was kind of a hard transition at first, but now I am kind of getting into the groove of things as a receiver, especially with all the technical stuff, footwork, the playbook and stuff like that.

“At first I didn’t like it but it just kind of started growing on me.”

Being so new to the position, he had plenty of room for improvement and he made it.  “From when I first got here the progress I’ve made especially in spring ball, is huge,” he said. “ You can sure see the difference. Just knowledge of the playbook, my textbook stuff like my footwork, my routes catching ability.”

His position coach Burl Toler III likes what he sees.

“Monroe is a very strong receiver. He is very creative,” Toler said. “He wanted to work on his releases, his routes, using a lot of creativity with that. And to see him translate what he says in the meeting room to the field is impressive. He is being a catalyst out here in drills, and it carries over into the teamwork as well.”

Head coach Justin Wilcox said he was particularly impressed with Young’s willingness to take on the opposition physically.

.“Monroe was making contested catches and wearing people out blocking,” Wilcox said. “It was awesome.”

Young said battling defensive backs for balls is something Toler stresses.” Coach Toler really emphasizes that,” Young said. “He tells us to attack the ball and give the defense less of a chance to get there before you.”

And he has worked on his blocking. “I think that is more of a mentality,” he said. “Getting to the DB faster than they can get to the ball.”

Young’s father Fredd played seven years in the NFL as a linebacker.

“I started football in the third grade and he’s coached me ever since,” Monroe said. “The experience he had, he talked to me about that. He emphasized that I have to earn everything in football.”

Fredd’s alma mater, New Mexico State, recruited Monroe as did New Mexico, but as soon as Cal expressed an interest, he was sold on the Bears.

“The opportunity,  the education, it’s the number one public school in the nation,” he said. “My mom is a third-grade teacher and she stressed the academics. And then there is the opportunity to compete with the best in the Pac 12 in practice and games.”

Walker plans to major in legal studies, with an eye toward being either a policeman or a fireman. “I am really interested in both,” he said. “Being a fireman is great. You get to save people’s lives and get paid for it.”

 

Ricky Walker III 5-11, 190, redshirt sophomore, Oakland,

 

He is the most experienced of the three, having played in ten games last year, even starting one (at USC) and catching one pass

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Ricky Walker III played in ten games in 2018

“Ricky Loves football,” Toler said. “He doesn’t mind if he’s playing inside receiver or outside receiver. He is doing his best every day. He understands the concepts and that has helped out his game all the way around.  We are looking for big things out of him.”

Like Young, Walker made a position change, actually two of them.”In high school I played running back and my senior year I played quarterback,” he said. “The type of offense we had enabled me to run the ball, too. Then I got here (2016), they moved me to DB.”

He took to his new position enthusiastically

“I feel like in my style of football I like hitting, and being on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “it was fun getting to hit people.”

But as Cal loaded up on young, talented defensive backs, the coaching staff thought it could make better use of Walker on offense.

“Coach Wilcox felt I could make an impact on the offensive side so I made the switch,” Walker said. “Ever since then I have been having fun on offense. Yeah, I like hitting people, but catching passes and scoring touchdowns is fun, too.”

Having played defensive back has helped Walker anticipate an opponent’s coverage tactics.
“Being on the defensive side of the ball, learning different techniques. it gave me an edge, knowing what a DB is thinking,” he said. “I know what they are going to try to do.  And I make my decisions based on that.”

One of the offensive weaknesses last year was the inability to loosen up the defense with the threat of the long ball. Walker thinks he can be part of the solution.

“I like deep routes,” he said. “I like posts, I like fades. There was an emphasis this spring to throw more deep routes, stretch the field out. I like to use my speed and open up the field. I have been able to get open.
“We’ve got a really good defense, a really good secondary and it’s iron sharpens iron, Going against great DBs makes you better.”

Coming to Cal was an easy decision for Walker.”I’m a hometown kid from Oakland,” he said. “ just felt like it was a good opportunity. I grew up coming to the games, I could be close to my family. I just felt like it was a win-win.

He lists among his favorite Bears Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson and Jahvid Best.

“I like to model my game after those guys do everything like they do.”

Al Sermeno - KLC Fotos
Ben Skinner got into one game as a freshman in 2018,

Ben Skinner 6-2, 185, redshirt freshman, Kentfield

He might not be the flashiest receiver the Bears have, but no one works harder. A walk-on, whose father Sam ran the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the Bears in the 1980s, he has shown as much improvement as any of the pass catchers.

“He said before spring he really wanted to work on getting his break quicker,” Toler said. “He’s really focused. He's smart on the field, he knows what he’s doing.”

Skinner also knows what he has to do to improve.

“The biggest thing with me is that I need to be more explosive out of my breaks,,” he said. “Whether I am running a curl, a comeback or working on my release and just getting a quick one-two and then getting outside and holding the line”

He does have some tools to work with. “He has great speed and he has great sure hands,” Toler said. “Putting those things together and putting him in the right spot are things that he has set out to do.”

Skinner appreciates that Toler, who designs precise pass patterns also gives his charges the freedom to make on-the-run adjustments. “He gives us the drills but what he likes us to do is put our own creative spin on things,” Skinner said. “Use our own creativity to get ourselves open. He loves that.

“ Whenever we’re doing one-on-ones and we come up with some funky new release that is very difficult to cover, he just loves that kind of stuff. He is very helpful, always all positive.”

Skinner’s game experience to date is a few series against USC when Wharton was hurt and some mop-up duty in the rout of Idaho State last year. But he is not about to complain.

“To be honest I was grateful the entire time even if I was just watching,” he said. “I’m a walk-on and wasn’t expecting much. I’m suiting up for games and grateful for that. I was grateful to be out there watching Vic Wharton, Jordan Duncan, Moe Ways, guys like that and learning from them “

Those lessons he took with him into this year. “They helped me with Spring Ball, because I’ve taken what I’ve learned from them and translated in my own way, and I put a little twist on it.”

Toler admires his work ethic. “He has shown a lot out here,” Toler said. “He is going every single day. He didn’t miss a rep, he didn’t miss any time and he’s the first one in the meeting room, last one on the field. He is doing all the right things.”

That Skinner, who also played baseball in high school, would come to Cal was pretty much a foregone conclusion. His Berkley roots run deep. When he attended his first Cal game, Oski was a bigger attraction for him than Aaron Rodgers. “I was coming here with my dad and my grandpa before I can remember,” he said. “There is a photo of me four years old.”

 

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Other Stories 

Former Quarterback Moore Finds a Home at Tight End

Spring Football Recap -- Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

 

 

 

Discussion from...

Three Young Receivers Ready to Contribute

NYCGOBEARS
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Please, someone have a breakout year! Multiple someone's would be even better.
NVBear78
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Monroe Young looks extraordinarily big and strong for a Cal Wide Receiver which is great. When he arrived at Cal Wilcox said he wanted bigger, stronger receivers so it is good to see Young out there. Kind of reminds me of a Stanfurd receiver with his size and strength.

p.s. he is listed as a 6 foot two in your article but I seem to recall the roster showing him at 6 foot last year? When he was first recruited I think he was listed at 6 foot two also though.
bluehenbear
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Nice to hear these guys busting their tails to improve and learn...but

Does this mean that the second string WR corp is ether walkons or converts from other positions?
BeggarEd
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Kekoa Crawford (from Michigan) and Trevon Clark (JC) should both be heavily in the mix for playing time.
TheSouseFamily
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Young is listed on the spring roster on the Cal website as 6'0". Article says 6'2". Any idea which is correct?

https://calbears.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=14243
dbush518
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Staff
He is 6-0,,6-2 was my bad
Radical Bear
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Do any of these guys (Crawford and Clark included) have game changing speed? We desperately need a guy who can spread the field out and make defenses play their safeties back.
Big C
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Radical Bear said:

Do any of these guys (Crawford and Clark included) have game changing speed? We desperately need a guy who can spread the field out and make defenses play their safeties back.
Probably not "game changing speed", but hopefully 1-2 of them will be able to combine decent speed with the ability to go up and grab a deep ball, maybe like a poor-man's Sean Dawkins. 'Cause, yeah, that was a glaring weakness for us, last season.
PtownBear1
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What's the story with Ricky Walker III? I don't recall hearing his name before. Did he transfer as a walk-on from SC?
calumnus
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I am glad that we are looking at position changes. It is strange that we have guys at DB that have played some at WR (even converted from WR) and the guys we converted all have zero experience there? In any case, we need 4 guys (of all the guys available) to be solid and 2 guys to break out as our prime threats (Duncan is the best bet).

I still think our best strategy would be to adopt a power spread with 2 TEs as our base formation, develop a strong running game behind that and mitigate our current lack of depth/experience at WR. As the WR corps develop and prove themselves we could move to more of the 3, 4 and 5 WR sets that Baldwin prefers, or stick with what is working if it is working, but in any case, have a good record and effective offense going into the backloaded half of the season.
sosheezy
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I remember his father was a great RB/DB at Bishop O'Dowd in the late 90's, and played mostly corner at Oregon State. Looking forward to RWIII's contribution's to Cal!
Big C
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calumnus said:

I am glad that we are looking at position changes. It is strange that we have guys at DB that have played some at WR (even converted from WR) and the guys we converted all have zero experience there? In any case, we need 4 guys (of all the guys available) to be solid and 2 guys to break out as our prime threats (Duncan is the best bet).

I still think our best strategy would be to adopt a power spread with 2 TEs as our base formation, develop a strong running game behind that and mitigate our current lack of depth/experience at WR. As the WR corps develop and prove themselves we could move to more of the 3, 4 and 5 WR sets that Baldwin prefers, or stick with what is working if it is working, but in any case, have a good record and effective offense going into the backloaded half of the season.
One problem with that is, we don't have much in the way of blocking TEs.

Young and Walker both used to play DB, but they played WR here last season. When the 2-3 WRs with a bit of experience (Clark, Crawford and , hopefully, Johnson) show up in the summer, we will have a full compliment of WRs. We'll just need 2-3 of them to step up and make plays throughout the season.
Rushinbear
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calumnus said:

I am glad that we are looking at position changes. It is strange that we have guys at DB that have played some at WR (even converted from WR) and the guys we converted all have zero experience there? In any case, we need 4 guys (of all the guys available) to be solid and 2 guys to break out as our prime threats (Duncan is the best bet).

I still think our best strategy would be to adopt a power spread with 2 TEs as our base formation, develop a strong running game behind that and mitigate our current lack of depth/experience at WR. As the WR corps develop and prove themselves we could move to more of the 3, 4 and 5 WR sets that Baldwin prefers, or stick with what is working if it is working, but in any case, have a good record and effective offense going into the backloaded half of the season.
No amount of power in the power spread can overcome the box being stacked when wrs can't stretch the field. We've got to complete passes downfield.
Gunga la Gunga
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Holy cow. That's not a lot to get excited about. A DB, a transfer and a Walk on? Really.

Maybe they can get open. No one could last year.
MoragaBear
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Staff
The wr corps should be very solid next year, with the two walkons in this story likely backing up Duncan, Hawkins, Remigio, Clark, Crawford, Polk, Young and likely two other big additions.
KenBurnski
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Big additions for the 2019 season?
MoragaBear
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Staff
Yes. Not finalized but fairly likely.
71Bear
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MoragaBear said:

The wr corps should be very solid next year, with the two walkons in this story likely backing up Duncan, Hawkins, Remigio, Clark, Crawford, Polk, Young and likely two other big additions.
"should be very solid" sounds somewhat optimistic given the inexperience of the group. They could blossom but we won't know until they get on the field. Until then, "potentially a solid group".
MoragaBear
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Staff
I'm going with should be. They looked pretty good in spring ball and that was without Clark, Crawford, Duncan (missed much of spring) and the two probable additions, not to mention 2 starting OL.
GBear
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Are you in a position to share whether or not one of those two is Taariq, or whether it could be Taariq + 2 others?
MoragaBear
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Staff
No, not in position to share quite yet
89Bear
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MoragaBear said:

No, not in position to share quite yet
Wow! This news is encouraging! Any idea when we find out who these people are?
MoragaBear
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Staff
Probably in the next few weeks
GBear
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Cool, no worries. Will wait to see! Thanks for keeping us in the loop as much as possible!
FuzzyWuzzy
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I don't really follow recruiting, but after reading this article I went on to the "Recruiting" tab of the BI website and found three WRs with no apparent commitment. After googling them all, I learned they are all in fact committed. They are: Bru McCoy, a 5-star, who just committed to USC in the last 24 hours; Kyle Ford, also a 5-star, and also going to USC; and Malik Bradford, a 3-star, who is coming to Cal.

What I also learned from looking up those players on google is that a HS kid can accept an offer, enroll early at that school, drop out, enter the transfer portal, and end up at another school before the fall term of their frosh year even starts. That is how McCoy ended up at USC this fall (he started at Texas this spring before changing his mind this summer and enrolling at SC). I also learned that USC is getting a 4-star CB, Chris Steele, the same way. That guy started out at Florida, transferred to Oregon, and then transferred again to USC, all before his freshman season even started (I think). Do those guys have to sit out a year? Anyway, SC is super loaded at receiver and we are not.

So I'm waiting with bated breath to hear the multiple WR recruiting news that Moraga thought he would have to report about now. It's not McCoy. It's not Ford. It could be Taariq - whatever happened to him? I googled him, too, and see that he left the team after last spring (2018). Was it grades, injuries, homesickness? Is there a rumor he is coming back? I seem to recall he was a talented and big receiver, a HS teammate of the Hawkinses. We could probably use him this season if his head is in the game and he is healthy.
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