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The Post Spring Unit Breakdowns - Running Backs

May 11, 2023
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Despite their struggles in 2022, at times the Cal offense ran the ball effectively, none more so than Freshman All-American Jaydn Ott.   Ott is the prototypical modern running back who can run, receive, and block while breaking tackles while making defenders miss all with game-breaking speed.  His success was a meaningful factor in his backups seeking more snaps elsewhere as there was a wholesale exodus from the RB room with the departures of Damien Moore, DeCarlos Brooks, Chris Street and Ashton Hayes.  The transfer portal taketh and the portal giveth with the Bears adding three touted new ball carriers in addition to a local speedster entering this Fall after graduating from high school.  

Relevant Articles:

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Spring Player Evaluations:

Jaydn Ott‍: Ott picked right up this Spring where he left off from the Fall.  He was a big play waiting to happen all Spring, regularly breaking off chunk runs.  If anything, he looked stronger and more explosive with his body tightened up and with some noticeable upper body muscle having been added.  Ott’s got an innate patience as a runner, which he can get away with because his acceleration is truly elite.   When Jaydn hits his second gear, he simply leaves defenders grasping for air.  Despite carrying roughly 200 lbs, he consistently breaks tackles, getting real yardage after contact.  The one thing we didn’t see this Spring was his Ott being utilized much as a receiver.  That was almost certainly by design to keep defenses guessing as Spavital will look to deploy Ott in myriad ways this Fall.  Hard to imagine Jaydn doesn’t establish himself as one of the nation’s elite backs in 2023

Byron Cardwell‍:  Before going down with a lower-body injury about two-thirds through Spring Practice, Cardwell made a very positive impression.  Byron has a strong frame and looks bigger than his listed 210 lbs.   Despite the obvious size and strength, he has nimble feet and lateral agility.  While not quite as explosive as Ott, Cardwell can move and he pulled off a bevy of big plays both as a runner and a receiver this Spring.   Blessed with a great hesitation and jump-cut move, he’s most effective in space, lacking the ability to get skinny and move the pile in congestion.   The big question is the recovery from his injury and whether he will be healthy enough to play a role this Fall.

Ashton Stredick‍: Stredick made the most of his Spring, with Ott’s snaps being tightly managed and then Cardwell going down with an injury.  A smaller back whose game is mostly predicated on quickness, Stredick’s built out his body and now runs with good strength.  He runs hard and looked to be comfortable in the new offense where his lack of innate vision is offset by his solid acceleration in space.  A good receiver and a still developing blocker, Stredick was not as effective late in the Spring against the 1st team defense as he had been going against backups.  

Outlook for 2023:  Very Positive

The Running Back room could have as many as six options this Fall if Cardwell can return and with the expected return of the injured Justin Williams-Thomas‍ plus the additions of Isaiah Ifanse, and Jaivian Thomas‍.   Williams-Thomas is a big, rugged, and athletic transfer from Tennessee. The former 4-star has a chance to be a big contributor to the Bears.  Ifanse is a veritable bowling ball,  a former FCS All-American who is hard to bring down.   The younger Thomas is aptly called the Jet for his home run speed and explosive acceleration.  While he’s smaller, Jaivian could find early playing time available in Cal’s new up-tempo offense.   Ott is the difference maker here and the Bears offense will likely be built around his swiss knife talents.  

Projected Depth Chart:

Jaydn Ott (6’, 200) Sophomore

Byron Cardwell (6’ 210)  RS Sophomore

Justin Williams-Thomas (6’1,215) RS Freshman

Isaiah Ifanse (5’10, 205) RS Senior

Jaivian Thomas (5’10, 175) Freshman

Ashton Stredick (5’9, 195) RS Sophomore

Discussion from...

The Post Spring Unit Breakdowns - Running Backs

4,390 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 9 mo ago by calumnus
AZ Bear
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DeCarlos Brooks was an effective runner. While not a star, he was a baller for us and I was sorry to see him go. I always liked Damian Morre, too. But given that our entire RB room except Ott and Stredick transferred, it's awesome that the RB position looks deeper and better this year (assuming guys get healthy).

Well put: the transfer portal not only taketh away but can sometimes giveth as well. It's nice for it to finally benefit Cal a bit more...


GivemTheAxe
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AZBear said:

DeCarlos Brooks was an effective runner. While not a star, he was a baller for us and I was sorry to see him go. I always liked Damian Morre, too. But given that our entire RB room except Ott and Stredick transferred, it's awesome that the RB position looks deeper and better this year (assuming guys get healthy).

Well put: the transfer portal not only taketh away but can sometimes giveth as well. It's nice for it to finally benefit Cal a bit more...




I understood why some Cal Offensive players went into the portal following Spav's hiring. I guessed that they would not fit Spav's style of play. Like Kai Milner. He was not a mobile QB and Spav's style favors mobile WB's.

I wondered what motivated so many RB's left. I would think that Spav's style should favor the RaB's
calumnus
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GivemTheAxe said:

AZBear said:

DeCarlos Brooks was an effective runner. While not a star, he was a baller for us and I was sorry to see him go. I always liked Damian Morre, too. But given that our entire RB room except Ott and Stredick transferred, it's awesome that the RB position looks deeper and better this year (assuming guys get healthy).

Well put: the transfer portal not only taketh away but can sometimes giveth as well. It's nice for it to finally benefit Cal a bit more...




I understood why some Cal Offensive players went into the portal following Spav's hiring. I guessed that they would not fit Spav's style of play. Like Kai Milner. He was not a mobile QB and Spav's style favors mobile WB's.

I wondered what motivated so many RB's left. I would think that Spav's style should favor the RaB's


Having played a season with Ott? Knowing he was returning? The reason Davis Webb left Texas Tech for Cal was Patrick Mahomes.
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