Cal Football Fall Camp 2013: Checking In With Khairi Fortt

Matt Soderstrom

In which we find out how healthy the Penn State transfer really is, and what he thinks of the freshmen LBs.

Now a year removed from his knee injury, the new news about Khairi Fortt is that, well, he's the old Khairi Fortt.

"Just agility wise, I feel about...98%," hesaid on Saturday. "I'm my hardest critic, so I'm always going to feel like I'm not as good as I actually am, but I guess from film-wise, strength-wise, I'm basically 100%."

"Just ready for the season."

Though he had the option to transfer and play right immediately due to the events that took place at Penn State, Fortt had to sit on the sidelines anyway, which he felt helped him, in a way.

"Transferring was a big deal. I had a lot of [different] coaches - but just the experience of being on the sidelines" gave him "an outlook on different players," he said, as well as a sense of "how to be a better leader for this team."

"Basically, I made friends, met a lot of new people, and this year, I'm just trying to be a big leader."

Of course, one of the other big things for Fortt this year will be the actual defense he plays in, but the outside linebacker seems confident that the Bears will do well this fall.

"We installed a lot of stuff [this week.]"

"Coach Buh, he's a great defensive coordinator because he won't tell you exactly why he's doing something, but one of his main principles is trust and to believe. We believe in his defense and we've really excelled over this past week with everything."

Through a week of practice - and even going back to the spring - it seems very much like Coach Buh has settled on the starters at linebacker; Fortt, Jalen Jefferson and Nick Forbes have essentially locked those jobs up. But the depth behind them is still in flux, especially with the addition of three new freshmen.

"The young guys are doing great, actually, getting reps and having a good time," Fortt said.

"Coach Buh's put in Johnny Ragin for some team periods, to see what he can do. Chad [Whitener], he's picking up the defense, and is learning that Mike position - quarterback of the defense."

And on Edward Tandy - who, I quickly discovered, goes by Tandy among his teammates, and not Ed or Edward - Fortt said, "he's learning my position, the weakside. We're just bringing him along, through all the philosophies."

"Young guys, coming in, trying to learn - we're trying our best to learn the new defense, and trying to teach them too, because essentially, they're looking to us when they're out there on the field. They're all getting out there." Based on the way camp has unfolded so far, we might even see one or two of them as early as this year, since Ragin has already started playing with the second unit.

It's a bright time for the Bear linebackers, a unit that should be stocked for years to come.

Thanks again to Matt Soderstrom for the photo.

Bonus Question:

I like to ask every player during camp someone - besides themselves - who they think is ready to break out. Fortt paused for a second, and took the diplomatic approach, replying: "I would say that we as a team are going to break out."

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