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QB candidate watch: California

Roughly half of Pac-12 teams must replace their starting quarterback entering 2016. We’re checking in on the status of each open competition. Here’s the situation at California, where three-year starter Jared Goff has left for the NFL.

Who’s in the race? Chase Forrest, sophomore, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds; Ross Bowers, redshirt freshman, 6-2, 190; Zach Kline, senior, 6-2, 215; Max Gilliam, freshman, 6-2, 195

What does Forrest bring to the table? As a true freshman last year, Forrest won the back-up quarterback job, so he enjoyed playing time in mop-up duty and was responsible for getting signals to Goff from the sideline. He impressed coaches with his footwork and pocket presence. During the spring game, Forrest showed accuracy with his throws downfield.

What does Bowers bring to the table? He's made a strong push this spring ever since missing some time due to nasal surgery. The Golden Bears also have been pleased with his accuracy, and that's made this a tight race. During the spring game, Bowers threw the winning touchdown pass to Brandon Singleton, a beautifully placed over-the-shoulder fade that evoked memories of Goff's pretty throws.

What does Kline bring to the table? Experience in quarterback competitions -- and a lot of it. Kline battled Goff for the starting spot as a redshirt freshman back in 2013 -- a competition that he obviously lost. He spent a season at Butte College (where Aaron Rodgers played before Cal, coincidentally) and another year at Indiana State before transferring back to the Bears.

What does Gilliam bring to the table? Fresh potential. The early enrollee may be Cal's future answer at quarterback, but it looks like he'll probably redshirt in 2016. He did impress with both his arms and his legs during the spring game, even ripping off a big gain on the ground.

Is one of the quarterbacks in the lead? Word before the spring game was that Forrest and Bowers were the frontrunners, with Kline option No. 3 behind them. But Kline put on a show during the scrimmage, completing 15 of 16 passes, so this appears to be a three-man race. Physically, Kline is the strongest of the competitors, which is no surprise since he is the oldest. The other quarterbacks are all shooting to pack on a few more pounds of muscle weight this summer.

What are coaches saying? Here's offensive coordinator Jake Spavital's criteria for selecting a quarterback: "I always start off to look if they're mobile enough. A lot of people talk about release speed and arm strength, but at a university like Cal, you're going to recruit and have guys who can throw the ball. So I look to see if guys have good footwork and can keep plays alive. And I look for guys who are winners, who make guys around them better."

Head coach Sonny Dykes has said that he'd name a starter early on if one of the candidates separated himself from the pack, but that hasn't happened. All other discussions have indicated that the battle is evenly contested at this point and won't be fully resolved until camp.

What can we expect moving forward? The Bears will choose from the three favorites when the season opener comes closer -- unless the ultimate wild card enters the fray: Former Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb, a potential graduate transfer, recently visited Berkeley. Webb, who has thrown for 5,557 career yards, is currently committed to Colorado, but Cal and Auburn are both considered options for him. If Webb somehow ends up in a Bears uniform come fall, disregard the current competition and expect him to be the 2016 starter.