While media pundits don't give the California Golden Bears any real respect-- see the preseason media poll picking Cal to finish seventh in the Pac-10 – there is at least one position in which the media believes Cal has a tremendous advantage within the conference on the playing field: tight end.
Meet Anthony Miller, Cal's junior tight end out of San Jose. As a freshman, Miller was primarily noticed for his work on special teams. Miller could only wait for his opportunity to catch a pass as a backup tight end. He got that opportunity on Cal's final offensive play of the 2008 season. Miller made the game-winning touchdown catch in the Emerald Bowl versus Miami.
Miller worked his way to be a starter at tight end for the 2009 season, tallying 26 receptions and an honorable All-Pac 10 mention. In what many considered to be a disappointing 2009 season for the California Golden Bears, Miller wound up being a bright spot as an offensive weapon.
Now, entering the 2010 season, Miller is one player who has high expectations. But when asked if he thinks about these expectations, Miller gives a very humble answer.
“Not really,” says Miller. “I know I just got to keep on working hard, studying the playbook, getting in shape, and getting ready for the season.”
Such answers are usual for Miller, who puts a greater emphasis on team goals and competing every day. Such answers are unusual for All-Pac 10 tight ends, who play very unique roles on the field, being both a blocker and a pass catcher.
Yet, while Miller comes into fall camp expecting to be quarterback Kevin Riley's consistent pass-catching weapon and Shane Vereen's consistent downfield blocker, the focus remains on the team.
Coach Jeff Tedford, on the other hand, is not so humble about Miller himself.
“Anthony Miller has really turned into a dominating guy at the line of scrimmage,” said Tedford.
When asked how Miller is as a pass-catcher, Tedford just came straightforward.
“He's as good as any tight end as we've had.”
Overall, Miller does bring the physicality necessary to be a tremendous blocker, as well as the hands to be a threat to move the chains. In that sense, the hype is definitely deserved.
And for Cal to exceed expectations as the role of the underdog, they are going to need Miller to live up to those expectations at Tight End.
“Just got to keep working and competing,” says Miller.
Practice News & Notes
Sophomore OL Matt Summers-Gavin was sporting crutches and a brace on his knee. Head Coach Jeff Tedford did not know the extent of the injury. In his absence, Senior Richard Fisher stepped in at LG, with Senior Donovan Edwards playing RT.
Freshman CB Vachel Samuels is likely out for the year with a broken foot, Tedford said. He is getting surgery on his foot next week.
RB Shane Vereen did not practice, but Tedford assured that he is fine. By keeping Vereen rested, it provides extra reps for the backup running backs in practice.
FB Will Kapp continues to sit out nursing a concussion.
Sophomore NT Kendrick Payne suffered an injury that had him in obvious pain during team period, but was able to walk off the field under his own power. When asked what it was, Tedford simply said, “it's a guy thing.”
QB Kevin Riley threw TD passes to sophomore FB Eric Stevens and sophomore TE Jarrett Sparks during team period.
You can now follow Cal Sports Digest via Twitter.
Discuss in Cal Sports Digest Forums.
If you have not by now, subscribe to CalSportsDigest.com. Click HERE to get access to the members-only content from CSD and the nation-wide Scout.com network.
©Copyright 2010, CalSportsDigest.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.