Sonny Dykes takes over as head coach of the Cal Bears with the task of turning the program into a Pac 12 contender. He kicks off that journey with spring practice, but without two of his top running backs who are out with injuries. Will that open the door for true freshman Khalfani Muhammad to push for playing time in 2013?
When the four-star recruit signed his letter of intent, Dykes raved about his ability and promised that he would be a contributor from day one. The former state champion sprinter is a combination of speed, elusiveness and vision to the backfield which would have made him difficult to keep out of the lineup to begin with and with the injuries to the other members of the backfield, it could become a certainty.
Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco entered spring as the leading candidates for a one-two combination out of the Bears’ backfield and likely still will when fall camp opens in August. The pair combined 540 yards on 50 carries with four touchdowns last season and Bigelow provided some of the biggest highlights for an offense that had a down year. They are the logical choices to step in and replace C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele and will be in line for the majority of the carries next season.
With both Bigelow and Lasco out in the spring, however, the bulk of the reps will fall to Muhammad. If he proves his worth to Dykes, he could not only solidify his position as the No. 3 running back on the roster but find his way into the offensive gameplan on a more consistent basis. Whether that involves particular packages to utilize his sprinter speed or as a regular backup in the nomal offense remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain, however. This spring, the opportunity is all there for Khalfani Muhammad to make a name for himself. Will he take advantage?