Cal coach Jeff Tedford always has made a point of giving his backup running back significant playing time. And going into each season, it always seemed obvious who that No. 2 tailback would be. Justin Forsett was there to back up Marshawn Lynch. Jahvid Best was the guy to spell Forsett. And for the past two seasons, Shane Vereen was the clear-cut backup to Best. With Best off to the NFL, Vereen now becomes the Bears starter. But what isn't clear for the first time in years is who will be the first tailback off the bench when Vereen needs a break. "It's definitely Shane, and (then) we don't know," Tedford said. "It's always been a pretty clear-cut top two. Now, we know that Shane is our starting tailback. There's a lot of evaluation that needs to happen with three or four more guys. There are more unknowns with the depth that we've had before." The uncertainty at the backup spot isn't because of a lack of talent. In fact, Tedford and running backs coach Ron Gould have the opposite problem. With sophomores Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson and Isi Sofele, redshirt freshman Dasarte Yarnway and true freshman Trajuan Briggs, Cal may have more quality depth at tailback than it has had in years.
"I feel like everybody has a chance," Yarnway said. "It's just a matter of what you do with that opportunity. It's about working hard every day." DeBoskie-Johnson figures to be the next in line because of seniority. He saw minimal time as Vereen's backup last season after Best suffered a season-ending injury. But DeBoskie-Johnson had surgery on his right wrist in January and is practicing this spring with a cast.