Cal Football: Cal Football Fall Camp Preview - The Wide Receivers

In Jake Spavital's offense, a lot of WRs will play and catch balls. Where do the Bears stand in terms of depth and playmaking talent as fall camp approaches? The room has a blend of returning production and plenty of new faces.
In 2016, when Spavital was last running the Cal offense, eleven WRs caught balls, with six of those receivers catching 25+ balls and four of them with 40+. In short, there will be plenty of opportunities for this unit in 2023.
This spring gave us only a limited sense of the wide receiver unit as Mason Starling‍, Brian Hightower‍, and Mason Mangum‍ all sat out for most or all of the session. Incoming transfers, Taj Davis‍ and Marquez Dortch‍ were not yet on campus nor were JC recruit Marquis Montgomery‍ or incoming freshman Nyziah Hunter‍.
There’s a nice blend of size, speed, returning production, and upside potential in the room, and plenty of depth if the unit can stay healthy.
Bear Insider
Veteran Monroe Young
Pre-Fall Depth Chart
Outside X:
Jeremiah Hunter
Brian Hightower
Mason Starling‍ ‍
Marquis Montgomery‍
Inside/Slot Y:
Mavin Anderson
Mason Mangum‍
Marquez Dortch
Kendan Robinson*
Outside Z:
Taj Davis‍/ Monroe Young
Nyziah Hunter
Jaiven Plummer‍
Trond Grizzel*
*Walk on
Twitter / Terry Anderson
Mavin Anderson will be counted on to become a consistent playmaker
Breakout Player
Mavin Anderson
Anderson was a highly-touted four star recruit in the 2021 class, and after redshirting, established himself as a reliable receiver with 37 catches for 372 yards and three touchdowns during the 2022 season. What wasn’t in evidence was his playmaking ability as Anderson’s got a unique combination of great speed with a RB’s build. Mavin’s a great fit for Spavital’s offense and this past spring showed him being lined up all over the field as Cal’s new OC clearly has big plans for the RS sophomore. Anderson’s most valuable ability may be in his dynamic versatility - he can stretch defenses on deep balls, make contested catches over the middle, as well as being deployed on jet sweeps and WR screens.
Newcomer to watch
Bear Insider
UW transfer Taj Davis
Taj Davis
Davis gets the nod here over Brian Hightower, Marquez Dortch, and Nyziah Hunter, all of whom could become a big part of the Bears' offense in 2023.
Taj gets the nod in large part because of his proven reliability and versatility. His statistics at Washington were solid and unspectacular - 47 catches, 606 yards, and 4 TDs with a 13 yards per catch average. Davis has stayed healthy throughout his career, shown himself to be a willing blocker, and has enough speed to keep safeties honest and enough size to win 50/50 balls with smaller cornerbacks.
Look for Taj Davis to battle Monroe Young to start opposite Jeremiah Hunter on the outside.
Key Questions For the Wide Receivers to Answer During Fall Camp
This will be among the most competitive rooms on the team. Burl Toler is looking for at least eight players in the rotation and beyond the established returners Hunter, Anderson, and Young, there will be a battle both in the pecking order as well as simply cracking that top eight. On the outside, keep an eye on Mason Starling, Brian Hightower, Marquis Montgomery, and Nyziah Hunter as they compete with Taj Davis and the returners for a spot in the rotation. Young was a standout this Spring, his savvy, strength, and ability to read coverages made him a go-to target for QB Sam Jackson.
In the slot, speedsters Marquez Dortch (who apparently ran a 4.3 40 earlier this Summer) and Mason Mangum will be fighting for the backup snaps behind Mavin Anderson.
A second critical question is can this group stay healthy? Starling, Hightower, and Mangum are in various stages of recovering from injuries and all three have had a history of challenges staying available. If they can stay healthy, it meaningfully changes the depth equation and gives Spavital and Toler a plethora of options.
This offense is designed to be vertically focused, putting a premium on players who can beat man coverage and get behind the defense. Jeremiah Hunter is a proven down-the-field playmaker who is on every preseason AP12 team and his ability to defeat press coverage and use his length and strength will be heavily counted on in 2023. Who will join him as a deep threat? Anderson’s speed makes him the primary candidate, and Davis has shown he can do it as well. Starling flashed in limited action in 2022 in this regard and then there’s the speed of Dortch, Mangum and incoming freshman Nyziah Hunter. At least one of those three likely has to step up and become a factor for this offense to truly hit its stride.
Final Thoughts
This is clearly a position of strength for the Bears heading into fall camp. As much depth as Cal has seen since 2015 when Lawler, Treggs, Powe, Davis, Anderson, and Harris were thriving in the air raid. Yet, it’s more “good” than “great” as beyond Hunter, there’s not another proven playmaker and the Bears will miss the unique length and speed of Sturdivant. That said, the floor is high with players who have done it at this level throughout the two deep. The story to watch is the potential of the newcomers. Can Marquez Dortch utilize his tremendous speed and quickness to be a factor? Will Nyziah Hunter be able to contribute as a true freshman? And what about the raw but formidable JC transfer Marquis Montgomery? Will he be a week one red zone threat?

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