California names Ross Bowers as starting quarterback

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) California coach Justin Wilcox ended six weeks of speculation and named redshirt sophomore Ross Bowers as the Golden Bears starting quarterback Monday.

Bowers had been competing with Chase Forrest, Chase Garbers and South Carolina transfer Brandon McIlwain.

''All the guys did a really nice job,'' Wilcox said. ''Ross just, over the course of the camp, earned the right. It wasn't one day or one play or one practice. It was kind of the body of work. But Ross has got to continue to improve, and he knows that.''

Bowers doesn't have much experience and spent 2016 as a backup to Davis Webb but impressed California's coaching staff throughout the spring.

The 20-year-old Washington native was actually informed he won the starting job earlier this week by quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo so the team could move forward with preparations for its season-opener at North Carolina on Saturday.

''It definitely was a great feeling just because I felt like I've really paid my dues and waited for this moment and worked toward this moment,'' Bowers said. ''For it to finally come, it was kind of an `aha' moment.''

Wilcox was quick to point out that the Bears depth chart which was released on Monday is not set in stone. Forrest, the backup to future No.1 overall draft pick Jared Goff in 2015, and Garbers will continue to push for playing time, while McIlwain is not eligible ''right now,'' according to Cal's coach.

''We need Chase Forest, we need Chase Garbers and we need Brandon,'' Wilcox said. ''That's where it's at right now. Ross is our starter and we're excited to get him out there and let him compete.''

Bowers celebrated the news quietly with his parents at dinner at a Cajun-themed restaurant in Berkeley. His father, John, spent three seasons as an assistant coach at James Madison while his mother, Joanne, was the head women's gymnastics coach at Washington.

''Them as coaches, they quickly reminded me, `Hey you haven't done anything yet. You better make sure you go keep that job and figure out a way to keep getting better.''' Bowers said.

Bowers was a highly touted recruit out of Bothell High School after leading the Cougars to an undefeated season and the Washington state 4A title as a senior. He redshirted during his freshman season at Cal because the Bears were loaded at quarterback with Jared Goff and Webb.

Goff was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 while Webb was drafted by the New York Giants in the third round this year.

California's offense will have a much different look than it did while Goff and Webb played. The Bear Raid passing offense of former coach Sonny Dykes has been replaced with a more balanced attack that should make things easier on Bowers.

''He can throw the football. He spins it really well,'' Wilcox said. ''He's an athletic guy. He can make some things happen when it's not perfect. He kind of has that mentality about him, find a way.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.