A couple of seasons ago, I thought that California Golden Bear running back Vic Enwere was going to be the guy. I even wrote a blog post about the guy. Vic Enwere
But, I was wrong. With the new coaching staff, Enwere didn’t rise to the top in 2017, but he still had 377 rushing yards. I suppose the Cal coaching staff didn’t want to use a 6-0, 245 running back for their every down back. Or, maybe he was battling injuries.
Enwere was beaten out by former walk-on running back Patrick Laird from San Luis Obisbo, California. It’s so rare that a guy like this will even get a chance. You see these kind of guys playing
in a team’s spring game and it’s pretty common to come away impressed with some walk-on. At Nebraska, Wyatt Mazour impressed coaches, fans and other players and he shined in their spring game. Former Nebraska coach Mike Riley even called him their Danny Woodhead after the extremely small NFL running back. Mazour is short, but very tightly muscled and he can run and is elusive. But, he never played a down this past season and never carried the ball.
Patrick Laird is bigger than a Mazour at 6-0, 200 and he also has good speed and elusiveness. I was actually not impressed with Laird when I first saw him. But, the more I watched, I realized that I might have been wrong about Laird just as I had been about Enwere.
Laird just kept getting better and better and before the season ended for the Cal Golden Bears, he had run for 1,127 yards and 8 touchdowns. He averaged almost 6 yards per carry. Laird is also a really good receiver out of the backfield with 45 receptions which was good for 322 yards and another score.
The California Bears finished their first season under new coach Justin Wilcox with a 5-7 record which could have been different with a few breaks. They could have beaten Arizona, or Stanford, or UCLA and had a winning record. Either way, even with the losing record, the Golden Bears looked improved with a better defense.
Maybe the defenses he played against weren’t up to par, but as the season progressed Patrick Laird won me over with his abilities. Oregon State was a terrible team, so it may not impress many that Laird ran for 214 yards against them. Weber State is not impressive either, so his 191 yards against them will cause Easterners to yawn at an accelerated level.
If those stats don’t impress, then I am sure running for 178 yards against UCLA will not either
considering the state of the program in Westwood.
But, maybe consider Laird’s 153 yards against Stanford knowing fully well that the Cardinal fields a pretty stout defense. The Cardinal have one of the nation’s best defensive linemen in Harrison Phillips and the last NFL Draft’s 3rd overall player selected was Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas. The Stanford Cardinal are an old fashioned, old school football team with head coach David Shaw believing in playing great defense and running the ball. Running for 153 yards against Stanford is not a bad accomplishment at all.
Laird missed the Washington State game and he only got 2 carries against the Washington Huskies. He also only received 3 carries against North Carolina, so he could have had an even more impressive season.
There won’t be any skipping of a senior season for a former walk-on like a Patrick Laird. So, he will get a chance to return next season and break the 1,000 yard barrier again. Hopefully, the Cal Bears will respond and win a few more games for new coach Justin Wilcox.