BERKELEY — Alex Lagemann knew he'd have to spend a year on the scout team at Cal. It just came a year later than he had expected.
Lagemann came to Berkeley as a highly recruited wide receiver in 2007. But the start of his college career was delayed a year after he suffered a broken navicular bone in his foot during the week of the season opener against Tennessee.
Now, after a good showing as a scout team wide receiver in 2008, Lagemann is opening some eyes during spring practice and could be a legitimate factor once the 2009 season rolls around.
"It's frustrating, but I keep thinking that you have to love the sport to be here, and I do," said Lagemann, who was rated as the 49th-best receiver in the country by scout.com coming out of Saratoga High. "Even if I did have to wait a couple of years, it's worth it because I'm having the time of my life right now."
Lagemann may have had a better chance to avoid the scout team and immediately join the offense last season, but the team had some difficulty diagnosing his injury. Initially, the Bears thought it was a stress reaction. But it turned out to be a fracture that required surgery. Lagemann didn't end up having the operation until the end of the 2007 season.
Lagemann was expected to be out about six months, but he incurred some complications during his rehabilitation and missed all of last season's training camp. Doctors told him
"I lost some confidence," Lagemann said. "But I had a few meetings with Coach (Jeff) Tedford, and he said I could play. I just had to go out there and have fun. As soon as I talked with him, I got out here, and it put a smile on my face."
The Bears are looking for improvement at wide receiver. With Verran Tucker skipping spring practice to concentrate on academics and Michael Calvin out with a knee injury, Lagemann is getting plenty of reps to get into the mix this fall.
"I always thought coming out of high school that he had that potential," Tedford said. "It was frustrating for a while because it was a situation where he couldn't run and it lingered on so long. It's nice to see him back healthy. He's doing a real nice job. He's getting much more comfortable and making some really nice plays, some really nice catches. He's had a nice spring."
Head to head
There have been times this spring where the offense has gotten bogged down against the defense. But part of that is because the Bears once again are expected to have one of the top defenses in the Pac-10. "Typically, it comes down to the physical matchups," Tedford said. "Schematically, if you have holes, you have problems. But if it's just a matter of a guy getting beat in pass protection, that's just a matter of evaluating and saying that was a great job by the defensive lineman or a poor job by the offensive lineman. You go back and forth like that all the time."
Marvin Jones, who has been Cal's best receiver this spring, rolled his ankle during Tuesday's practice, but it isn't considered serious. ... Cornerback Chris Conte, also having a strong spring, suffered a concussion during Saturday's scrimmage and sat out Tuesday's practice.
— Jonathan Okanes