As if it wasn’t already apparent after Cal’s passing offense finished 101st out of 129 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the team is in an extremely tough position heading into the spring. The Bears’ leading receiver in yards-per-game from the 2018 season, Kanawai Noa, recently announced via Instagram that he intends to leave UC Berkeley upon graduation and will play his final season of football eligibility elsewhere as he pursues a master’s degree. He totaled 1,267 total receiving yards over his four seasons at Cal and was intended to be a focal point of the offense over the last two years.
Noa, a 6-foot redshirt junior out of Hawaii, only totaled 369 yards and two touchdowns on the 2018 season, as injuries kept him on the sidelines in five games. Despite this, his average of 46.13 yards per game led the team, which is, well… suboptimal.
Including Noa, Cal will lose its four top receivers in terms of total yardage, as Vic Wharton III, Moe Ways and Patrick Laird are all set to graduate. Maybe a complete retooling of the receiving corps is exactly what the Bears need after an abysmal 2018, but the depth left on the roster is anything but encouraging.
Heading into 2019, the three starting receiver spots are anyone’s to take. Current freshman Nikko Remigio is a name to watch, as the Mater Dei product flashed some explosiveness in the limited time he got as a receiver this past season. Jordan Duncan will be one of Cal’s more experienced receivers next season, as he has played in 31 games for the Golden Bears. Even though he wasn’t a top option, sophomore Jeremiah Hawkins will be the only other returning receiver who has garnered somewhat significant playing time, so Cal will undoubtedly be forced to count on a few of its incoming freshmen and transfers.
Either way, the transfer of Noa is just one piece of the increasingly complex puzzle that is the Cal offense. With Cal Athletics making the decision to keep offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin despite mightily struggling to move the ball, the pressure is on for the receivers and offense to catch up with the team’s defensive aptitude.