Cal has brought in some of the best offensive line classes in the nation in recent years. The Bears are starting to reap the benefits.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Wednesday that redshirt freshman Matt Summers-Gavin and sophomore Justin Cheadle had earned starting spots at offensive guard. With sophomore Mitchell Schwartz slated to start at right tackle, the Bears will feature three of the five offensive linemen who made up their offensive line class of 2007 that was ranked sixth in the country by scout.com.
Throw in starting center Chris Guarnero and backup Dominic Galas — each of whom was considered a top recruit — and it appears the Bears are ready to capitalize on their recruiting efforts.
"All those good classes that came in, those guys are playing at a fairly young age," Tedford said. "They're not completely new. They know the offense. I feel like there's a good mix there."
After breaking training camp Monday, Cal held its first practice of the regular season Wednesday. Players were assigned to scout teams, and the Bears began to install their game plan for the season opener against Maryland on Sept. 5.
Cal's coaching staff met Tuesday to resolve some of the position battles that took place during camp. Summers-Gavin beat out Mark Boskovich at left guard, and Cheadle got the nod over Chet Teofilo at right guard.
Summers-Gavin never enrolled in school in 2007 after getting injured before training camp. Schwartz and Cheadle redshirted that year.
Tedford said Cheadle has lost 20 to 25 pounds.
"He's a different guy right now," Tedford said. "Summers-Gavin came in last year with a lot of injuries and was slowed by that. But when spring got here and he was ready to play, he started making a move. I feel really good about those guys."
Best said the only thing he hasn't done since returning to full practice is taken enough big hits. "That's the one thing I don't think I've done yet," he said. "If my first big hit is against Maryland, I'll get used to it."