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Redshirt senior running back Patrick Laird will be the driving force behind Cal’s 2018-2019 campaign. The Golden Bears haven’t had a lot of success in recent years, but this year looks to be different.

He started his career at Cal as a walk-on back in 2014. He only appeared in one game, then was redshirted his sophomore year. He saw limited action in 2016 as a redshirt sophomore, running for 59 yards on 8 attempts. He then exploded in 2017, rushing for 1,127 yards on 191 carries for 8 touchdowns. He also added 45 receptions for 322 yards and one score. Those numbers put him at 8th in the Pac 12 for rushing attempts and yards.

This year Laird looks to expand on his solid 2017 campaign. Already, he has been named to the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards watch lists. These awards are for the top college football player and top running back, respectively. Although these are just nominations, they are a testament to the effort and skill of Patrick Laird.

Laird Is In The Driver’s Seat

The advantage for Laird is that he will be a workhorse who will take a significant number of snaps. Out of the 3 running backs on the roster, only sophomore Derrick Clark has taken in-game snaps (14). The only other running backs listed are a redshirt freshman and a converted safety and wide receiver. While this puts a burden on Laird, it gives him an opportunity to shine for pro scouts and award voters.

It does not seem as though his starting job is in jeopardy, but the success of Cal football might be. There is no firm starter at QB, and reliable, healthy receivers are a question mark. The success of these positions may depend on Laird to produce well early and often. If he can take pressure off the QB and receivers, they will produce, which will take the burden off Laird making him more productive.

Essentially, Cal’s entire season rests on Laird’s ability to be healthy and consistently solid. He is the only player who has been both of those things in recent seasons. If Cal hopes to break out in the PAC 12, Laird needs to either match or exceed his 2017 campaign. And if last season is any indication, we expect him to do just that.

For more great college football stories, check out Sports Al Dente.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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