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Cal Football

Position Preview Running Backs: Backups Need to Emerge

October 10, 2020
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New Cal football running backs coach Aristotle Thompson had only four spring practice sessions to get to know his group. He has drawn some conclusions, but he is eager to learn more as fall camp, such as it is, gets underway.

He has a star in the making in junior Christopher Brown Jr., who barely missed 1,000 yards rushing last year. With DeShawn Collins no longer on the roster, the Bears backups are a little thin, Marcel Dancy, lightly-used since transferring from Laney City College two years ago, figures to have a bigger role. Wisconsin transfer Bradrick Shaw could see some early duty, and the freshmen running backs -DeCarlos Brooks, Chris Street and Damien Moore- might have to grow up fast.

Thompson said that the group’s eagerness to train in the offseason should pay dividends.

“I am really impressed with the way they were willing to work in this (covid) situation. I thought it was really good that they were practicing and preparing like there was a game at the end of the week,” Thompson said. “A group of guys that are willing to work that hard gives me something to build on. I am a firm believer in the philosophy that hard work pays off.:.

A look at the running backs. 

Christopher Brown, Jr.  6-1, 230, Junior

Briefly: Last year became the centerpiece of the Bears’ running game. Cal's active career leader in rushes (245), yards rushing (1062), rushing touchdowns (9), receiving touchdowns (4), total touchdowns (13), points (78) and all-purpose yards (1259). Last year he totaled  914 yards on 214 carries with four rushing touchdowns. He also was on the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll.

Thompson: “From everything I’ve seen in the walkthroughs, he looks great. He is big fast and strong. He speaks up in the meeting sessions, talking with Chase Garbers about what they can do. I am excited for Chris, just going back and watching him, how he is strong inside but also has the ability to get outside and to catch the ball. For his size he’s very versatile. 

Marcel Dancy, 5-10, 195, redshirt senior

Briefly: In two years he has rushed 71 times for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Was selected to the All-State-AFCA Good Works Team for his work in the community.

Thompson: “Marcel has been a very persistent, the way he works to get better. He has done a great job of challenging other guys to push themselves, on and off the field.  I can see Marcel make some good runs, seeing what the defense is trying to do as opposed to just running. It is a big plus for him that he is seeing the game at a different level.”. 

© Kelley L Cox | 2019 Mar 24
Marcel Dancy (23)

DeCarlos Brooks 5-9, 190, Redshirt freshman

Briefly: Three-star recruit was Arizona’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. Has speed and packs a wallop in his compact body.

Thompson: I think is going to continue to mature. I have seen a big jump in his maturity. In the spring and in the shutdown I have really seen him grow in the skill set, He is talking about things, asking questions. ...In high school you can get the ball in your hands, make one move and go. He’s starting to really hone in on what he has to do to be a productive football player at this level.”

Chris Street, 5-10, 185, Freshman

Briefly: In two varsity years piled up 1889 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on 331 carries. Also caught 19 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns to total 2166 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns. Senior year was limited by injury.

Thompson “I haven’t had a chance to look at him in live situations. But just the fact that he was able to get up here this summer and start working out (was good). He is pushing himself and coming back off that injury he had his senior year. From what I hear, he is moving great. ...You look at his high school film and you see quickness and he is a lot more of a load than people think.”

Damien Moore: 5-10, 210 Freshman 

Briefly: Combined for 2253 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns on the ground as well as 17 receptions for 118 yards and three kick returns for 43 yards to total 2414 all-purpose yards in three high school years. Mission League MVP as a senior. Limited to two games as a junior by an injury. 

Thompson: He is a hard worker and Damien has done a great job of picking up our system. ...He does a great job of seeing what is happening on the field and recognizing what the defense is doing. He is a slashing type runer.”

Bradrick Shaw, 6-1, 205 Redshirt senior

Briefly: Transfer from Wisconsin.  Played in 31 career games with two starts and ran for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns on 202 carries, while adding four receptions for 27 yards in five seasons.

Thompson:” He is a big back and has played a lot of football. When we get on the field that is going to benefit him. His experience will help the younger guys and he will be ready to get out there, ready to play whenever his number is called.”

Drew Schlegel 5-11, 225 Redshirt senior

Briefly: Fullback, transfer from Kentucky. Played in 24 career games all off the bench during four seasons at Kentucky. Primarily a blocker.

Head coach Justin Wilcox: "Drew will have the opportunity to help us both on offense and special teams, and he will be a great fit at Cal academically and socially. He will also embrace the role of being a good teammate. We're happy to have him on board."

Zach Angelillo 6-2, 220 Redshirt sophomore

Briefly: Fullback who switched positions this season after two years as a linebacker

OC Bill Musgrave: “He’s done an amazing job on scout team the last two years. But he wants to be on the field and so he volunteered…and we accepted him with open arms.”

Ashton Stredick, 5-9, 185, Freshman

Briefly: Walkon from Needville Tx,  Played in 32 career games and rushed for three-year totals of 6420 yards and 88 touchdowns on 637 carries, averaging 10.1 yards per rush and 200.6 yards per game. Was Class 4A Player of the Year and District 13-4A MVP; 

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Discussion from...

Position Preview Running Backs: Backups Need to Emerge

2,579 Views | 11 Replies | Last: 10 days ago by heartofthebear
bonsallbear
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Well I've got to root like hell for Ashton Stredick . His stats are incredible! And he's a walk-on.
Go Ashton!
wifeisafurd
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bonsallbear said:

Well I've got to root like hell for Ashton Stredick . His stats are incredible! And he's a walk-on.
Go Ashton!
If he becomes anything close to Laird, we are starting a great PWO legacy.

Let's face it, Brown is the man this year.
CALiforniALUM
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Doesn't seem like we are lacking depth this year. You have Brown at No. 1, but with an experienced JC and Wisky transfer in the mix you have a solid top 3. The rest are pure icing on the cake and represent the future. This will be fun.
NVBear78
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Curious about the depth comment myself:

Brown very experienced and capable.

Dancy has been with team for two years and was key player in Washington Game last year. Has significant experience but is a change of pace back.

Wisconsin Transfer-this young man has gained almost 1,000 yards in his career. If healthy would expect him to be a strong back up to Brown as a power back (we did not have this luxury last year) and somebody who can share time.

We do have a big opportunity for someone to step up beyond these top three and should have some good options:

RS Frosh from Az. Heard good things about him last year and he has a year of seasoning.

The two new Frosh from CA. These guys are both highly touted.

Frosh walkon from Texas-remembrer that Jacqizz Rodgers at OSU came out of nowhere to be a starter from year one...
BearForce2
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I'm excited to see what Bradrick Shaw can do.

Big C
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NVBear78 said:

Curious about the depth comment myself:

Brown very experienced and capable.

Dancy has been with team for two years and was key player in Washington Game last year. Has significant experience but is a change of pace back.

Wisconsin Transfer-this young man has gained almost 1,000 yards in his career. If healthy would expect him to be a strong back up to Brown as a power back (we did not have this luxury last year) and somebody who can share time.

We do have a big opportunity for someone to step up beyond these top three and should have some good options:

RS Frosh from Az. Heard good things about him last year and he has a year of seasoning.

The two new Frosh from CA. These guys are both highly touted.

Frosh walkon from Texas-remembrer that Jacqizz Rodgers at OSU came out of nowhere to be a starter from year one...

Regarding running back depth:

Both Brown and Dancy have, at times, been on the shelf with injuries. Same with Shaw at Wisconsin, I believe.

Beyond those three, we are completely unproven. Brooks, Street and Moore, maybe one or even all of them will eventually be good. Maybe not. Yes, somebody (BearGreg?) compared the PWO to "Quiz Show" because he's strong and tough, pound for pound, and maybe he will be a player at this level, but c'mon.

Here it is in October and we're still undefeated, so I don't mean to sound like a pessimist, but I hope Brown stays healthy.
71Bear
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Big C said:

NVBear78 said:

Curious about the depth comment myself:

Brown very experienced and capable.

Dancy has been with team for two years and was key player in Washington Game last year. Has significant experience but is a change of pace back.

Wisconsin Transfer-this young man has gained almost 1,000 yards in his career. If healthy would expect him to be a strong back up to Brown as a power back (we did not have this luxury last year) and somebody who can share time.

We do have a big opportunity for someone to step up beyond these top three and should have some good options:

RS Frosh from Az. Heard good things about him last year and he has a year of seasoning.

The two new Frosh from CA. These guys are both highly touted.

Frosh walkon from Texas-remembrer that Jacqizz Rodgers at OSU came out of nowhere to be a starter from year one...

Regarding running back depth:

Both Brown and Dancy have, at times, been on the shelf with injuries. Same with Shaw at Wisconsin, I believe.

Beyond those three, we are completely unproven. Brooks, Street and Moore, maybe one or even all of them will eventually be good. Maybe not. Yes, somebody (BearGreg?) compared the PWO to "Quiz Show" because he's strong and tough, pound for pound, and maybe he will be a player at this level, but c'mon.

Here it is in October and we're still undefeated, so I don't mean to sound like a pessimist, but I hope Brown stays healthy.
You are not being pessimistic at all. In this era, teams need three solid backs. Given the injury history of the top three Cal backs, there should be concern. If the RB's can remain healthy, the Bears should be ok. However, that is one huge IF.

calumnus
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Brown is bigger than the fullbacks and even some of our TEs. If we go away from the spread and see Garbers under center Brown will be a beneficiary.

It would be fun to line him up in the backfield with a smaller, quicker back. Could then split one out, run reverses, etc. and really keep the defense off balance.

heartofthebear
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With just 7 games and plenty of prep time, I'm not concerned about injuries defining our running success or failure this season.
71Bear
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heartofthebear said:

With just 7 games and plenty of prep time, I'm not concerned about injuries defining our running success or failure this season.
You can look at it two ways:

Fewer games = fewer chances to get hurt.
Fewer games = less likely to return to action completely recovered after suffering an injury

Injuries are always a concern. They are the difference between a great season and a mediocre season. The 1993 Cal team is the poster child for that axiom.
heartofthebear
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71Bear said:

heartofthebear said:

With just 7 games and plenty of prep time, I'm not concerned about injuries defining our running success or failure this season.
You can look at it two ways:

Fewer games = fewer chances to get hurt.
Fewer games = less likely to return to action completely recovered after suffering an injury

Injuries are always a concern. They are the difference between a great season and a mediocre season. The 1993 Cal team is the poster child for that axiom.
I guess I disagree about depth. I think we have two productive guys. If Brown goes down, I trust Dancy. But I'm a bigger Dancy fan than most. If somehow Dancy can't take all of the load then I trust Shaw and some of the redshirt freshmen.

Keep in mind, no pack 12 team has more than 2 or 3 productive guys and injures can hit any team. Injuries affect top heavy teams (teams with a big difference between the 1s and the 2s) more than other teams. I don't think we are top heavy in many places (maybe QB). The more talent rich teams are more prone to being top heavy. I think ASU is very top heavy on offense and much more susceptible to the impact of injuries.

So, given that all teams have equal chance of getting injuries for the most part, I'm just not that concerned about it.

I am hearing good things about this team, that they are in shape, healthy, ready and that this could be "the year". So, while I would not predict a conference championship, I think Cal will compete in almost every game and will make a run.
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