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August 26, 2011

Kaelin Clay inches closer to full return



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BERKELEY -- As the California football team begins its preparation for the season-opener against Fresno State on Sept. 3, the Bears have seen some of the more troubling camp injuries clear up, and on Friday, speedy wide receiver Kaelin Clay was back in full pads. Though the redshirt freshman didn't practice in full, he was chomping at the bit to get back in the action.

"Kaelin's running around really well. Kaelin's running around well. There's a possibility that he could play on Saturday," said head coach Jeff Tedford. "Game ready is a different thing. He's going to have to practice all week next week to be game ready. You can't miss fall camp and then think you're going to be OK on Thursday and play. So, he's where he needs to be right now, as far as running around and feeling good and no pain, but now we've got to put him in and let him play next week, because if he's going to play, he's got to practice next week."

While Clay spent all of last season on the scout team, he did have an impressive spring before going down on the second day of fall camp, and has had his nose in the playbook even while on the shelf. What remains to be seen is how comfortable he is with that playbook.

"We'll find out. I know he's been paying attention, and he's in every meeting," Tedford said. "But, it's one thing to see it on the board and then break the huddle and do it. He's been taking every mental rep out here, so we'll find out next week, if in fact he's ready to go."

Clay showed effortless acceleration and made some hard cuts and went hard into his breaks and changes of direction.

"He played in the spring. He had spring under his belt, so he did a good job then," Tedford said. "He was the fastest guy in the state when he came out of high school, so yeah, the speed factor there, he's the fastest guy on our team."

Though Clay will finally see the field, highly-touted true freshman Brendan Bigelow was relegated to the scout team, and Tedford said that it is likely that he will redshirt this year.

The top three tailbacks have settled out now, with junior Isi Sofele at the top of the depth chart, followed by Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson and junior college transfer C.J. Anderson. After those three, Dasarte Yarnway and Mike Manuel took the fourth and fifth reps.

DeBoskie-Johnson looked to have a very smooth stride and solid hands and should be a solid option behind Sofele.

Offensive tackle Tyler Rigsbee practiced for the second straight day after coming back from a lower leg contusion.

"He's doing fine. He still needs a little bit more pop. He needs to get himself in shape and do things," Tedford said. "He hasn't done anything for a long time, because that leg was such where you couldn't even really do anything with your legs. Your conditioning typically comes with your legs. You can do as much arm cycling as you want, but you've got to get your legs back under you. That's what he'll be doing throughout the next eight days."

Depth along the offensive front is expected to be a bit thin, but with youngsters Chris Adcock, Mark Brazinski and Justin Gates getting a lot of playing time with injuries during the spring, Tedford is comfortable with the second-string line, bracketed by Rigsbee and Bill Tyndall on the outside.

"It depends on how deep you want to go. Two-deep, I think we're fine, pretty much at all positions. If it goes deeper than that, at certain positions, you would have to rely on a lot of youth," Tedford said. "The three guys after [the top five linemen] would be Gates and Adcock and Brazinski, rotating in the middle, and then you have Tyndall and Rigsbee at the tackles. So, really, you have 10 guys that you feel like can do some things. It looks better now that everyone's healthy."

Notebook
-- Freshman wide receiver Maurice Harris was still out, but wore only a protective sleeve on his injured knee instead of a brace.

-- H-back Spencer Hagan turned in a few nifty little jump catches, and starting tight end Anthony Miller made a nice grab on an underthrow by junior starting quarterback Zach Maynard. Maynard continued to show increased velocity on all his throws, particularly with the intermediate balls.

-- The top four tight ends were Miller, Hagan, Jacob Wark and Richard Rodgers.

-- Freshman wide receiver Bryce McGovern showed very quick, crisp footwork.

-- Freshman Darren Ervin was still in red, but starting offensive guard Brian Schwenke practiced in full.

-- Senior Ryan Davis took first reps at weakside outside linebacker during the first few periods of practice, opposite redshirt freshman David Wilkerson.



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