Bridgford came into Cal with strong credentials, as 4 star U.S. Army All-American from Mission Viejo High School. Bridgford earned several accolades during his senior year, including 2008 South Coast League Co-Offensive MVP and Team MVP honors, as well as first-team All-SCL recognition when he led his team to the section playoffs. He completed 184-of-300 (61.3%) passes during his senior year, amassing single-season school records totals of 3,058 passing yards (254.8 ypg) and 38 touchdowns He left Mission Viejo as its all-time leader in passing yards (7,208), passes attempted (661), passes completed (430) and passing touchdowns (77) after leading his team to the playoffs in each of his three seasons as the starting signal-caller, as well as the SCL title as a sophomore in 2006
Bridgford's promise, however, never paid dividends in production at Cal, with his collegiate career initially put on hold with a torn labrum suffered in his freshman season. The injury sidelined Bridgford for much of his first two seasons when additional surgery was necessary.
When finally healthy, Bridgford shined in spring practice heading into his redshirt sophomore season in 2011, with many observers feeling he held the clear advantage over junior transfer quarterback Zach Maynard. However, Maynard was awarded the starting spot and took most of the meaningful snaps in the 2011 season.
"The last two springs, I felt I ourperformed him" said Bridgford. "I really don't know what the thinking was on that but you just deal with the cards you're dealt. I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time on that one, I guess.
"You can always say, 'what if,' but you can't really live that way."
In limited opportunities to observe the quarterback competition, with most of the spring and fall practices closed to the public as well as media, it appeared to many that Bridgford shined brightest during spring practice in 2011 as opposed to last spring, however the senior quarterback clearly feels differently.
"Actually, I think my second spring was better," said Bridgford. "I'd say I was night and day better the second one, actually.
"I might have had a rough day or two when you guys were able to see us but the second spring, the only practices Maynard was at were the three Saturday practices. I took all the other starting reps in the other practices and was doing really well. I wss really confident then and thought I might end up starting. But once the games started, it was all him and I wasn't really doing much so that was kind of tough. I felt like I'd earned the job in the spring and fall.
With Maynard's departure after 2012, Bridgford hoped for the opportunity to retain the starting job he inherited after Maynard went down to a season-ending injury late last season but it became clear early that new head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin were going in another direction.
"I just felt that if I stuck around, I wasn't going to get a fair shot to show what I could do just based on what was going on the first few practices," said Bridgford.
"If I had the chance to get enough reps and get in a rhythm and get going, I feel like they would've seen that I was the best guy. But it really evens things out for the other guys when in four practices, I only get limited reps in two. If they're younger, they want to see what they can do and it really benefits the younger guy rather than me.
"I guess you can say that I just wasn't given enough of a chance to see what I can do, you know?," said Bridgford. "But at the same time, I completely respect all the other quarterbacks and think they're all good players."
As for his future, Bridgford has every intention of continuing his collegiate career and is beginning the process of figuring out his best future destination. It's been rumored that Bridgford has already signed with UC Davis but while they're a school that's under consideration, he's not that far down the road yet in determining his next destination.
With his intention to graduate this summer with his degree from Cal, Bridgford will have the opportunity to play at either the FBS or FCS level next season without having to sit out as he pursues a graduate degree.
"I still have no idea where I'm going to go yet," said Bridgford. "I still have to sign the papers and thoroughly go over all the rules and everything.
"I know I have options. I just need to find the place that's best for me, where I'll have the opportunity to play right away. I really haven't talked to any schools or anything yet. I'm not even allowed to. That will probably start tomorrow once I get all the paperwork sorted out.
"I'll be able to go FBS or FCS since I"ll have graduated -whatever works out best for me. I'll be graduating after summer."
Even though transfers are often accrimonious, while Bridgford justifiably has regrets about what could've been, he's leaving with a full heart and a wealth of friendships and experiences that he clearly treasures.
"I think the fact that I really grew up while I was at Cal, it made me a completely different person leaving there than I was coming in," said Bridgford. "A lot of my growth came from me having to deal with my injury. That kind of makes you grow up quick. But I'll always have great memories of all the best friends I made there and being on the team. The wins were great and the losses were tough and playing was always the best.
"I'll have a lot of good memories from Cal. But definitely the biggest thing was how much I grew up while I was there and learned how to deal with adversity and things I'll will help me for the rest of my life," concluded Bridgford.