Cal wide receiver Nikko Remigio doesn’t have a long list of individual goals for his junior season.
“A touchdown a game,” Remigio said. “I feel like that’s contributing the most that you can really as a receiver and productivity-wise.
“I feel like keeping it real simple and trying to score every single game is a goal of mine right now.”
Simple, sure. Ambitious, definitely.
Through his first two seasons with the Bears, Remigio has caught a total of three touchdown passes. But his outlook began to change after the Big Game last season when he enjoyed a breakout performance that has fueled his confidence.
Remigio caught nine passes for 157 yards and a touchdown as the Bears snapped a nine-game losing streak to Stanford, winning 24-20.
*** Quarterback Chase Garbers talks about Remigio:
“He’s a big-time player. He showed that at the end of the year, especially in the Stanford game,” Garbers said. “What definitely helped us is he grew confidence in himself and I also grew confidence in him as a route-runner and pass-catcher.”
Remigio finished off the season with 18 catches for 251 yards and a pair of TDs in wins over Stanford, UCLA and Illinois.
The offseason brought new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, but also the COVID-19 pandemic, which interrupted spring practice and pretty much sent everyone home.
Remigio grew up in southern California, just 15 miles from Garbers, so the two were able to find a way to throw the football in the offseason.
“I bring up a lot about chemistry. Even during quarantine, I was fortunate enough to be in the same area as Chase so we were able to get some routes in and keep our momentum going from last season,” Remigio said. “Being able to capitalize on that in the time we had off going into the season with it is something that’s really nice to have.
"And I definitely think we still have that chemistry.”
Garbers agrees. “So I think we’re kind of building on that momentum from last year,” he said. “We’ve already seen it in fall camp. I can’t wait for what he has in store for this season.”
The Bears continue to install different aspects of Musgrave’s offense, and the new wrinkles include allowing Remigio to shift to the outside at times after playing most of the past two seasons in the slot.
“I think that’s the biggest thing with this offense — we’re able to flip-flop guys around and switch up our looks and have different from the slots being outside and the outside guys be inside,” he explained. “Really, it just adds a whole new level of versatility.”
Players took their playbooks home in the offseason to study what they’d learned about the offense during their abbreviated spring workouts.
“Now the biggest difference is actually running those plays against a defense and having realistic looks. Those are the kinks we’re working out now,” Remigio said. “As far as knowledge of what plays we have and what we’re doing and our responsibilities, I feel like everybody has a pretty good gauge on that and understands their playbook very well.”
*** Musgrave said Remigio is having an excellent camp:
“Running impeccable routes . . . bursting after the catch. We’re all pretty fresh right now after a number of months off but he’s fresh and very explosive with the ball in his hands,” the one-time Oregon quarterback said.
“He’s sharp. He knows the whole concept. We can plug and play him in different areas so we can keep the defense a little bit off balance.”
Coach Justin Wilcox sees growth in Remigio in several areas.
“Nikko can do some different things for us. Especially toward the end of the year he played better and better,” Wilcox said. “He’s done a really nice job in this offseason of preparing himself.
“He’s very sharp, he loves the game and he’s really taken to the coaching. So I’m excited for Nikko as an individual and then what he can do for our team on offense and as a leader.”
Remigio is not the only weapon in the Bears’ receiving corps. Sophomore Makai Polk came on strong late last season, including five catches for 105 yards in the Redbox Bowl win over Illinois.
The Bears expect big things this season from seniors Trevon Clark and Kekoa Crawford, and the roster includes five scholarship freshman wideouts, along with walk-on Grant Daley, formerly of De La Salle High.
Asked about the chemistry between Garbers and Remigio, Wilcox said, “You’ve got to have that with multiple people and I know we’re working at that now.”
*** Wilcox talks here about what the Bears expect from Clark and Crawford:
Remigio anticipates a smooth flow from the Cal passing attack because of the comfort level between Garbers and receivers.
“(We) are going into this year with a different level of confidence and a different level of chemistry with the quarterback. (It’s) going to be huge.”
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo
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