The top 10 California football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
QB Davis Webb, Sr.
By landing Webb in May, the Bears feel as if they’ve replaced one NFL quarterback with another. While nothing is official, the Texas Tech transfer is likely to be the heir to Jared Goff. Webb is a 6-5, 225-pounder with experience in a system similar to what’s being run in Berkeley. As a Red Raider, he threw for 5,557 yards, 46 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in 18 games, but was unable to hold off the competition the past two years. If Webb can quickly assimilate and cut down on his mistakes, pro scouts are going to take notice.
OG Chris Borrayo, Sr.
For one final season, Borrayo will be Cal’s best overall blocker and one of the Pac-12’s more underrated O-linemen. His craft is built on a particular brand of nastiness and physicality that’s benefitted both the Bear backs and quarterbacks. The 6-3, 310-pound honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection didn’t yield a sack in 2015, and even hits on Jared Goff from Borrayo’s side were uncommon.
NB Cameron Walker, Sr.
Walker is nothing if not versatile, having started games at safety, cornerback and nickel during his time at Cal. He was in the opening lineup for 11 games in 2015, grading out relatively well in myriad phases. The 5-10, 180-pound Los Angeles native notched 38 tackles, four stops for loss, two sacks and a pick, and will be one of Cal’s most important defensive playmakers again this season.
RB Khalfani Muhammad, Sr.
Muhammad isn’t the kind of back who’ll ring up monster numbers. Too small at 5-9 and 170 pounds and too many other quality players in the backfield. But he’s a homerun hitter, with the jets to change the tenor of a game as a runner, receiver or return man. Muhammad led the 2015 Bears in rushing with 586 yards and a score on only 87 carries, while also catching a pair of touchdown passes. Now that Jared Goff and all of his receivers are gone, this is the kind of playmaker who needs more touches.
S Damariay Drew, Sr.
The Bears have been pleased with the development of Drew who’s coming off his best season in Berkeley. The hard-hitting defensive back was third on the team with 71 tackles, including four for loss, despite sitting out a pair of games. At just 5-11 and 200 pounds, Drew can be vulnerable on balls over the top, so he’ll continue concentrating on being a valued run supporter. Unfortunately, he suffered an April knee injury that could derail his 2016 campaign.
CB Darius Allensworth, Jr.
Imperfect though he may be, Allensworth has been one of the steady Bear performers out of the secondary over the past two seasons. As a full-timer a year ago, the 6-0, 190-pound junior defended a team-high 12 passes, forced two fumbles and made 41 stops. Now, Allensworth must step up his game in coverage to support the rest of the defense.
DT James Looney, Jr.
Looney is looking to build on his debut in Strawberry Canyon. The Wake Forest transfer laid the ground floor for his future by starting all but one game and making 35 stops and three tackles for loss in 2015. Looney is a little undersized for the interior, 6-3 and 275 pounds, but he’s quick, powerful and determined enough to be a more frequent visitor to opposing backfields this season.
RB Vic Enwere, Jr.
In Cal’s three-headed backfield, Enwere will once again serve as the enforcer, particularly in short yardage situations. The 6-1, 235-pound Texas is a physical north-south runner who’ll bowl over defenders once he amasses a head of steam. Enwere was the busiest of the Bear backs in 2015, carrying the ball 106 times for 505 yards and a team-best eight touchdowns.
OT Steven Moore, Sr.
The 6-6, 305-pound Moore is back for his fourth season as a starter, a level of experience and stability that the O-line desperately needs as a new quarterback is broken in. Yeah, he needs to improve his technique, particularly as it pertains to pass protection. But his know-how and comfort level at left tackle will help prop up a group being completely rebuilt over on the right side.
RB Tre Watson, Jr.
Considering how the touches were parceled out among four diverse backs, Watson did his best as a sophomore to make his case to start this season. Arguably the best mix of talent among Cal’s options, he rushed for 504 yards and three scores on 89 carries, while showing good hands out of the backfield. Watson is 5-10 and 190 pounds, which is big enough to handle an expanded role this fall.