Don't let the last name fool you. Fullback Eric Stevens isn't on Cal's roster just because his older brother enjoyed an accomplished college career in Berkeley and is now playing for the Tennessee Titans.
Stevens, who came to Cal as a walk-on in 2008 out of Peninsula High-San Pedro, is pushing for significant playing time in 2010, especially after an injury to projected starter Will Kapp.
Stevens, a sophomore who is the brother of former Cal tight end Craig Stevens, has been practicing with the first team since training camp began. Kapp suffered a concussion before camp started and has yet to practice, although he's expected back later this week.
In the meantime, Stevens has opened the eyes of coaches and could be a factor this season, even when Kapp returns.
"He's athletic. He can catch the football," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He has control of the offense now. Last year, he was kind of learning. Now he knows what he is doing."
Stevens is 6-foot, 235 pounds and athletic enough to block in space and get down the field when the ball is put in his hands. Even though they play different positions, Stevens also can draw off his older brother for wisdom.
"It's great to have your older brother become that special," Stevens said. "He's not only a great player, but a great guy as well. For me to have someone to look up to like that, I can't ask for anything better."
The Bears need an upgrade and to establish depth at a few positions, and this year's group of newcomers should play a major role in doing so. Tedford already has said five true freshmen and one junior college transfer will not redshirt, and a couple others have a chance to play right away as well.
Four new wide receivers -- freshmen Keenan Allen, Kaelin Clay and Tevin Carter, and JC transfer Coleman Edmond -- will be in the playing rotation, with Allen a strong candidate to start. Outside linebacker Dave Wilkerson and tight end Jacob Wark -- also true freshmen -- will not redshirt, either.
Fellow freshman Nick Forbes, a linebacker, also has a strong chance to play this season, and freshman running back Trajuan Briggs could make a mark on special teams.
"We'll play more young guys this year than we ever have," Tedford said.