Thursday, July 7, 2011
Indispensable player: California
By ESPN.com staff
See your team in your mind's eye -- 24 starters, including specialists.
If you could put an absolute halo of safety -- perhaps a girdle of indestructibility? -- around just one, who would it be?
We're rating each team's most indispensable player. And when the choice is too obvious -- say, Stanford -- we'll try to offer a second choice.
Up next: California.
WR Keenan Allen
This one might come as a surprise to some, but not to observant Cal fans. This selection is not just about Keenan Allen, sophomore receiver. It's about the idea of Keenan Allen: an athletic, big-play guy who, with his half-brother Zach Maynard playing quarterback, becomes the second coming of DeSean Jackson as a sophomore -- only at 6-foot-3 -- the flashy half of a top receiving combination with Marvin Jones. Allen flashed eyebrow-raising potential last fall as a receiver and kick returner but faded a bit as his true freshman body got beat up. He finished second on the Bears behind Jones in receptions (46) and receiving yards (490) and led the team with five touchdowns. Jones is a good receiver, but Allen has all-conference potential. In fact, if Cal is going to get its offense back on track, it needs Allen to break through this fall. The Bears won't score a lot of points without Allen getting a lot of touches. The Bears have little depth and experience at receiver behind Allen and Jones, and Allen must get a lot of touches in order for the offense to be successful. Thus the indispensability.