Verran Tucker spent his spring in the classroom rather than on the football field, in a self-described "fight" to remain academically eligible. Tucker won that fight. And on Saturday it was announced that, just weeks after rejoining the team for fall camp, he has won the starting job, too. Coach Jeff Tedford said that Tucker will start alongside Marvin Jones at receiver when the Bears play Maryland on Sept. 5. It's a rewarding stop on what has been a somewhat rocky road for Tucker, beginning when he joined Cal's fall camp late in 2008 after transferring from El Camino College. "Last year at this time he had no idea what this offense was," Tedford said. "(Now) he's more comfortable and confident in what he's doing. He plays fast and has done a real good job."
Tucker showed a lot of promise last season, when he had the second-most receptions (21) of any Bears receiver and led the team with his average of 17.2 yards per catch. He started the final seven games in 2008. But sitting out spring ball knocked him down on the depth chart over the offseason. Instead of joining spring workouts, Tucker sat in front of a computer with an academic adviser, completing classes for his social welfare major. He would come out after practice and run sprints. "Honestly, I felt like I was kind of forgotten," Tucker said. "Not necessarily that I was, but not being able to work out with the guys and go through what they were going through on the field-the pain, the sweat and all that. I kind of felt separated from the guys."