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June 4, 2012
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BERKELEY -- There is an image evoked by the word linebacker: Aggression and anger shaped like a hulking Frankenstein's monster of speed and power, with an extra pair of shoulders where a neck should be. At the California football program's one-day showcase camp on Sunday, one athlete in particular fit the bill, and then some.
Granite Bay (Calif.) outside linebacker Beau Hershberger passed that test with flying colors, and despite his all-muscle 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame, the three-star prospect still has not a single scholarship offer.
Invited by Bears quarterback coach Marcus Arroyo, Hershberger made a heady case for one from Cal, showing off loose hips and a good nose for the ball during one-on-one drills.
"They like my explosion at the practice that they came and watched," Hershberger said. "They said my vision of the field was really good."
At the moment, Yale and Oregon State have shown the most interest, with Cal, at this point, "just poking around."
On Sunday, Hershberger got to learn at the feet of seventh-year linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson, and took the most from the rushing drills.
"Getting the handwork and footwork down, that helped out the most," Hershberger said. "He was teaching ripping and tearing techniques with the hands, pushing them off and getting away from the linemen. It's something that our coaches just haven't taught, technique-wise."
Where Hershberger truly excelled was during the one-on-one portion of the camp, where he went nose-to-nose with another physical grinder, Ray Hudson.
"You just have to push yourself," Hershberger said, smiling, laughing at the fact that he couldn't push too much -- despite those kill-everything linebacker instincts -- because of the no-pads nature of the event.
At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln Way East dual-threat quarterback Tommy Fuessel doesn't exactly stick out of a crowd, until he takes his first step. Fuessel came all the way from the Midwest to take the Bears up on an offer to show the physical tools that have made him a marvel in SPARQ testing this spring. Fuessel has clocked a 4.46-second 40-yard time, leaps an astonishing 37 inches and runs the shuttle in 4.18 seconds. On Sunday, he worked out at wide receiver despite barely ever playing that position before.
"I've been working receiver today, and it's been working out well," Fuessel said. "I ran one route in practice, but that's about it, last year. No games playing receiver, nothing. First time playing receiver, and I thought it went very well."
Following the event, Fuessel spoke with several Cal coaches, and is more than open to changing positions, if it earns him a coveted scholarship offer.
"They've heard about my NIKE SPARQ rating, and they saw that I put up great numbers, so they wanted to see me come and run some of the routes," Fuessel said. "They said that I'm really explosive right now, and they're coaching me up, because I haven't really played receiver. So far, so good."
Fuessel begins his own team spring camp on Monday at 7:30 AM, and he's sure to engender even more interest as the spring and summer wear on.
"For quarterback, Northern Illinois is showing a lot of interest right now, but they said that they're also going to recruit me as a receiver," Fuessel said. "I've been getting looks from Northwestern, Indiana, Michigan State and schools like that. This is the first West Coast team."
Another relatively untested athlete who came to Witter Rugby Field was Modesto (Calif.) Central Catholic two-sport star John Fenton. A 6-foot-9, 220-pound hoopster, quarterback, wide receiver and tight end, Fenton played AAU ball with Stanford signee Grant Verhoeven and Organized Chaos, and has hoops interest from Cal Poly, Cornell, Denver, UCSB and St. Mary's. Working out as a tight end, Fenton flashed at times and looked out-of-place at others. He possesses the physical tools to be developed into a tight end, but he has a relatively narrow frame and looks to be a project, in stark contrast to his teammate John Mundt, who, along with Hudson, proved to be one of the best tight ends in camp.