Cal Football: Running Back Marcel Dancy A Testament To Staying Ready

What does it mean to stay ready?

Cal running back Marcel Dancy gave everyone a glimpse of what readiness looks like with his unexpected performance in last Saturday’s Big Game.

The senior from Oakland had rushed for just 23 yards all season, seemingly lost  among a running back corps that is deeper than in recent seasons.

At Stanford, Dancy got four carries and he made the most of them, running for a career-best 92 yards, with touchdowns of 76 and 2 yards in the Bears’ 41-11 victory. The 76-yarder was the longest this season by a Cal back.

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Asked this week about how his performance provides an example for his younger teammates, Dancy says in the video above that being ready is what matters most.

“If you’re prepared, then you can play free at that point. So preparation is everything,” he said. “That’s kind of what I have them focus on, along with myself. I preach that to them — preparation will allow them to play free.”

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Cal coach Justin Wilcox, shown in the video at the top talking immediately after Saturday’s game, said Dancy epitomizes the Bears’ program.

“In a lot of ways, when you have good depth at positions, guys don’t get maybe the reps they deserve. I think Marcel falls into that category,” Wilcox said. “He’s never once complained. Every day he’s the first guy to the meeting, he’s the first guy to the practice field.

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“For him the past few years to be that person and then show up and have the game he did tonight I’m really happy for him. Couldn’t be more proud of him.”

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But Dancy wasn’t celebrating his own achievement.

“I feel like I’ve stayed poised, kept myself in the best shape and in the best position to take advantage of my opportunities this entire season and I’m going to continue to do that,” he said. “I was more excited about how it helped the team win the game more than myself.”

That’s the player offense coordinator Bill Musgrave has gotten to know the past couple seasons.

“He’s a leader, not just of that running back room but of the entire offense and the entire team,” Musgrave said.

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“He’s always ready . . . no matter what the role might be or might include He is the consummate team player and of course he’s got a lot of ability, too. I’m just excited for him to make such a tremendous contribution on Saturday.”

Dancy came to Cal in 2018 from Laney College and showed himself to be a versatile back. In his first three seasons, primarily as a backup, he rushed for 485 yards and caught 31 passes for 236 yards. He averaged 5.4 yards each time he touched the ball on a play from scrimmage.

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But Christopher Brooks and Damien Moore have shared most of the carries this season, with supporting contributions from Cal’s young backs, Chris Street and DeCarlos Brooks.

Dancy was handed the ball just 14 times on run plays.

On Saturday, when he went around left end and saw nothing but open real estate in front of him for his 76-yard dash, Dancy wanted to complete the play as a tribute to the offensive linemen who made it possible for the Bears to rush for 352 yards against the Cardinal.

“They opened it wide-open for me. As soon as I hit the corner I was just thinking about hitting the end zone for them for what they were doing all night for us,” he said.

And how fast did he feel while streaking down the left sideline?

“I felt like I was moving a little bit.”

Quarterback Chase Garbers has shared the past four seasons with Dancy and knows what to expect from him. He also believes what he’s seen at practice and on game day is a sign of things to come.

“We all know what Marcal can do with the ball in his hands. He’s a very dynamic player,” Garbers says in the video below. "Being with him these past few years, I know how he plays, I know his demeanor, I know what type of guy he is.

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“Going forward that’s just who he’s going to be.”

Cover photo of Marcel Dancy scoring at Stanford by Stan Szeto, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo

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