BERKELEY -- His birth certificate may say that 18-year-old Jared Goff is the youngest quarterback on Cal’s roster, but in terms of experience in coach Sonny Dykes’ system, Goff is just as old as anyone.
That’s why Dykes had no reservations naming Goff the Bears’ starting quarterback Friday. Goff is a true freshman who enrolled in the spring, and narrowly beat out redshirt freshman Zach Kline for the job. Goff will be behind center when Cal opens the 2013 season Aug. 31 against Northwestern, something no other true freshman has ever done in a season opener in the recorded history of Cal football.
“He and Zach have had the same amount of time with us,” Dykes said after Friday night’s practice at Memorial Stadium. “Jared isn’t really a true freshman. He had a spring practice. He’s had all the time from spring practice to two-a-days to learn the system and perfect his craft.”
Dykes called the decision “gut-wrenching” and stressed that no quarterback on the roster ran away with the job. He said he could have chosen either Goff or Kline, but Goff has been just a little more consistent through training camp.
“It was a hard, difficult, gut-wrenching decision in a lot of ways,” Dykes said. “We kind of hoped someone would take it and run away with it, and that’s not really what happened. We made our decision solely based on who gives us the best chance to win today. It’s tough because you care about people. It was a very close competition, but we felt like time was starting to be of the essence and we needed to make a decision.”
Goff said he was honored to be named the starting quarterback and immediately called his father, Jerry, when he received the news Friday morning. Jerry Goff was a star baseball player at Cal who played for three teams during a major-league career, but he also served as the punter on the Bears’ football team for one season.
[NEWS: Cal names freshman Jared Goff as starting QB]
As for his dad’s reaction?
“He didn’t answer,” Jared said.
Jared said his dad, who is a firefighter, was on a call but called him as soon as he received a follow-up text message from his son.
“He was excited,” Goff said. “He said his phone had a million text messages.”
Goff was still attending Marin Catholic High School eight months ago, and in two weeks he will be the Bears’ starting quarterback for a nationally televised game against a ranked opponent. But the signal-caller, who has already earned a reputation for being calm and poised, said he isn’t thinking about any of the pageantry surrounding Cal’s season opener.
“I try to stay as composed as I can,” Goff said. “You have to as a quarterback. That’s one of the big things – stay composed, stay poised. Of course, there’s going to be a little bit of nerves. But you just have to go out there and do your job.”
Kline stood behind his teammate while also saying he will be ready if the team needs him.
“I know I’m a good quarterback,” Kline said. “I know I can win games and lead this team to where we want to go. But in the same breath, I’m going to support Jared obviously because that’s what a good teammate is going to do. At any moment, I could get in the game.”
Courtesy Jonathan Okanes, Cal Athletics