Quarterback Jared Goff is the main event at Cal’s pro-day workout on Friday, but the undercard holds plenty of intrigue as well.
At last month’s scouting combine, Golden Bears running back Daniel Lasco grabbed everyone’s attention when, at 6-feet, 209 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, leaped 41 1/2 inches in the vertical jump and had an 11-foot, 3-inch broad jump. That last mark wasn’t just the best among running backs in Indianapolis that day. It was the farthest any running back had jumped at the combine in at least a decade.
The combine and other events that lead to the draft often are derided as “the underwear Olympics” since prospects aren’t playing football and don’t even don pads and a helmet. But for Lasco they hold true importance.
Following a junior season in which he rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns, hip and ankle injuries defined his senior year. He had just 65 carries and fell off NFL teams’ radars.
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The combine put him squarely back in their sights. CBS network draft analyst Rob Rang said there are still durability concerns for Lasco but that he could be taken as high as the fourth round.
“Because of his injuries, people overlooked him and forgot what he’s capable of,” Lasco’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, said this week. “This is a great example of how the second season of scouting is helping a player. Because he torched the combine.”
Lasco wants to keep his momentum rolling Friday in Berkeley.
A four-star recruit who grew up in the Houston area, Lasco had scholarship offers from Florida and the University of Miami. He took a last-minute trip to California, however, and was hooked by then-Cal head coach Jeff Tedford and running backs coach Ron Gould, whom he credits with molding him into an NFL-ready running back. Gould is now the head coach at UC Davis.
Tedford was replaced by Sonny Dykes before the 2013 season. The changeover, Lasco said, simply gave him a chance to learn another scheme and show his versatility.
In 2014, for example, he had 33 receptions for 356 yards and two touchdowns. He was one of three running backs at the combine scouts asked to stay behind following their position skills so they could learn more about how they run routes and catch passes.
Lasco, who graduated with a degree in sociology in December, had formal interviews at the combine with the Colts and Broncos. He’ll have more when teams begin setting up pre-draft visits to their headquarters later this month.
Asked if, after playing in Dyke’s up-tempo offense, he’d fit in Chip Kelly’s similarly-paced system with the 49ers, Lasco laughed and said he’s not picky about where he goes.
He said he’ll embrace any role, including special teams, which he also did at Cal.
“I know I can fit any organization, any offensive style,” he said. “I’ve played in every single one. I understand defenses. My football IQ is very high, and it’s not going to be hard for me to adjust to any system I’m going into.”