With a tip of the cap to ESPN's Bill Barnwell, who assembled these team triplet rankings for pro football, we decided to do the same with the Pac-12. Here are the parameters: We’ve selected a trio of skill-position players from each team in the conference.
The rules: Each player comes from a different position group, so the offensive version of this series features a quarterback, a running back and a receiver -- no exceptions. We then ranked each program’s troika against the others in the Pac-12, and we’ll be unveiling each in reverse countdown order. Next up are the California Bears.
Note: For teams that haven't selected a starter at the quarterback position, you'll notice that we've kept things open-ended with who's competing for the starting job.
QB Davis Webb
Cal doesn't have a returning starter at QB as Jared Goff was the top pick in the 2016 NFL draft, but the transfer of Davis Webb from Texas Tech puts the Bears ahead of the vast majority of Pac-12 teams, eight of whom have uncertainty at the position. That number, by the way, includes Cal because Webb has yet to throw a pass in a Cal practice, so he technically hasn't yet won the job. But he threw for 5,557 yards and 46 touchdowns for Texas Tech while starting 14 games before being beaten out by Patrick Mahomes in 2015. Not only is he experienced, more than a few folks believe he's the best senior QB in the nation and a potential first-round draft pick next spring.
RB Vic Enwere
Enwere was the Bears second-leading rusher last year just behind Khalfani Muhammad, and Tre Watson wasn't far behind at No. 3. All three are back this fall, so what the position may lack in star power it makes up for in solid depth. Enwere rushed for 529 yards and led the RBs with eight TDs. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, he's the thunder, with the speedy Muhammad providing the potential lightning. All three also figure to be targets in the passing game, with Muhammad leading the troika with 17 receptions and two TDs last year.
WR Melquise Stovall
Cal is completely rebuilding its receiving corps from last year, but Stovall completed a strong spring session with a breakout spring game, while highly touted incoming freshman Demetris Robertson also may be ready for prime time. The WR position was a complete mystery before spring practices but the post-spring sentiments were positive. Of course, we won't know anything until we see how these youngsters respond against what looks like a generally strong crew of conference secondaries.
Evaluation: No member of this triumvirate is a sure thing, but it also has strong potential upside, particularly with Webb behind center. We don't know how these guys will work together because they didn't last year. Things could go sideways. Webb might not adjust to a new team, scheme and coaches. Enwere could get lost in "a backfield by committee." And the receivers might show as much youthful inconsistency as promise. Or these guys could mesh well, reach their potential and transform Cal into a North Division contender.