Again, no practice today. Our look up and down the depth charts continue. Offense and offensive line got some solid treatment, although not quite as much as the defensive line look from yesterday. Check them all along with the fall practice previews and reports at the end of this post.
Today it's linebackers, a position which could be pretty good, good, or inconsistent. It's very difficult to say. But we'll touch on it a little here.
Cal loses their two inside backers and the Pac-12 defensive player of the year. But they're being replaced by two of the best linebacking recruiting classes Cal has ever had in the modern era. McCain, Wilkerson, Forbes, Scarlett, Campo. There are vets like Mullins, King and Hurrell and young guys like Broussard, Jefferson and Whiteside. Barton and Nickerson wait in the wings. And we haven't even talked about the possibility of Khairi Fortt, who will probably hit the rotation sometime in September but definitely by October. There's lots of linebackers here.
The good news is that most of the shuffling appears to be at an end. The starters appear to be set.
We have the long-armed and extremely tall Chris McCain on the strongside and the scarily talented Brennan Scarlett on the weakside. This is probably our best OLB combo since Follett-Mohamed were the guys manning the outside. McCain is a very talented guy and is going to make it difficult for running backs to try and bump to the outside of him. Scarlett is a triple threat linebacker in the mold of Kendricks: He can plug the run, drop into coverage, and rush the passer. I'm guessing he's our Predator back for as long as he's able to hit the field. The only issue is his health.
Behind them is the capable Dan Camporeale and a combination of either Lucas King, Cecil Whiteside or Nathan Broussard. Campo probably gets slated as the first sub, then who knows what happens past there. Good things have been said about King this fall, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's the second guy. Whiteside may have difficulty getting onto the field this season. He has catching up to do and the LBing corps is pretty deep on the outside. We should find out what the early rotations are against Nevada.
The inside linebackers are a mixture of the new and the old. Robert Mullins has contended for a starting job all camp and he could very well get it if Dave Wilkerson struggles to stay healthy (he hasn't played much this fall camp). Nick Forbes is promising (he was probably going to play last year before surgery forced him to redshirt), but this will be his first season handling the demand of the inside. Behind them is a mixture of vets (Hurrell) and youth (Jefferson). But with no Jason Gibson (a strong two-deep contender), this is going to be an area to watch all season.
And we haven't even gotten to our ace in the hole, one Khairi Fortt. If he hasn't practiced much this camp (as far as I know just some non-contact drills), I doubt he starts this season. When he's able to see the field, he probably plays a super-sub role like Tipoti on the D-line and we find a spot for him. I'm guessing as a traditional MLB, he'd find his way into the ILB rotation along with our top three backers there.
I wouldn't say the linebackers rotate like the defensive line. We're not quite as deep there as at the D-line. But I could see us going six deep most of the year without much trouble and expand it to as many as eight if Thompson feels willing to let these guys loose.
Starters: Scarlett, McCain, and Camporeale rotate at OLB; Mullins, Wilkerson and Forbes rotate at ILB.
Backups: King, Broussard and Whiteside at OLB; Fortt (if healthy), Hurrell, Jefferson at ILB.
Position roundtables: Quarterback