BERKELEY — The Cal receiver wearing the No. 1 on his jersey caught a short pass during a training camp practice recently and made a move on the cornerback, running a circle around him untouched.
It's a story line Cal fans became familiar with the past few years, and it looks like it's just going to continue.
DeSean Jackson has taken his talents to the NFL, but incoming freshman Marvin Jones looks ready to pick up where he left off. The newest Cal player to don No. 1 has been a revelation during training camp, and appears to be a lock to play right away.
"He was a great player," Jones said of Jackson. "I watched him a lot, all the stuff he did for this program. He is a good player, but now I have to look at what I am doing. I know the opportunity is there, and I am going to grab it."
The Bears have the seventh-best incoming class of wide receivers in the country, according to scout.com, and Jones is the headliner. He was rated as one of the top 25 prep receivers in the country, and looks as though he is making the transition to the college game smoothly.
"I knew I was going to be a guy people were going to rely on," Jones said. "I am just trying to be that guy. I have to learn fast so I can be that guy."
He appears to be a quick study. Jones said he's already at the point where he's thinking less and playing more on instinct. Redshirt freshman Michael Calvin, who
"For a freshman, he's a pretty polished guy," Calvin said. "You know he has potential. Guys like him are the future of our program."
Jones' recruiting trip coincided with Cal's heartbreaking loss to Oregon State last season, but he still orally committed the next day. Two weeks earlier, Jones had been on a visit to Oregon, which lost to Cal in one of the more high-profile games of the season in college football.
"When I came here, I felt like this is the program where I want to be," Jones said. "I felt I was part of the team when they lost. I felt like I lost, too."
Cornerback Darian Hagan realizes he's at a crossroads. He'd prefer to make the right turn.
Hagan, a redshirt sophomore who came to Cal with huge expectations, is playing his best football since he's been in Berkeley, according to defensive coordinator Bob Gregory. The Bears were hoping Hagan would have emerged last year when they were attempting to replace Daymeion Hughes. Instead, he was passed on the depth chart by true freshman Chris Conte.
Hagan is battling Conte for a spot this fall, and he realizes the window of opportunity might be closing.
"My mentality now is all or nothing," Hagan said. "I have to do everything I can to try to make this team better, as well as myself. All or nothing — get better or get surpassed."
Hagan started to show signs of improvement during practices leading up to last year's Armed Forces Bowl. Although he said he wasn't happy with how he performed in the spring, he still appears to have built off his work last December.
"I came in thinking I was the man," Hagan said. "It was a wake-up call for me. It forced me to grow up."
Senior linebacker Zack Follett returned to practice Monday night after missing Sunday with a slight groin injury. ... Coach Jeff Tedford said running back Shane Vereen (ankle) should return by the end of the week, if not by Wednesday. ... Defensive linemen Mike Costanzo, Charles Amadi and Covaughn DeBoskie, all out with concussions, should be back any day, Tedford said. "... Tedford was impressed with former Cal QB Aaron Rodgers' starting debut with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers was 9-for-15 with one touchdown and one interception.
— Jonathan Okanes
and Curtis Pashelka