Cal football spring practice recap: Predicting the depth chart

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What to make of the past three weeks?

UPDATED: An unofficial depth chart has been released into the wild


The best thing I can say about spring practice is that it seems that no significant injuries have been sustained during camp (knock on wood). This is really the most positive sign. The team’s injury woes started early last year and worsened to the point where half our defensive depth chart was out of action by opening day. This year, players that are currently hurt are recovering from 2013 season injuries, and more of those players seem closer to returning rather than staying sidelined. This could be a decently healthy team by fall. They won't be the most talented team out there, but they probably won't be an infirmary either.

Kudos to the new strength and conditioning staff. Whatever they've been doing, it's been working up to this point.

Onto predicting the depth chart.

Quarterback: Jared Goff, Kyle Boehm, Austin Hinder

I’m pretty sure the quarterback fall depth chart will be Jared Goff, followed by Luke Rubenzer. Kyle Boehm figures to retain his role, but neither he nor Austin Hinder have done anything to distinguish themselves as real players this camp. Boehm figures to still factor into WildBear formations and Hinder will probably come in garbage time. But figure for Goff to handle any meaningful snap next season, with Rubenzer only playing if injuries are a factor.




Running back: Khalfani Muhammad, Daniel Lasco, Jeffrey Coprich, Austin Harper

I would imagine that Muhammad’s absence from camp to do track could knock him down in the rotation a spot as Lasco gains the necessary experience to excel in this offense. But I also think Muhammad is the most dynamic back Cal will offer next season, and Pierre Ingram and Dykes would have made him reconsider taking more reps if they thought he was in danger of regressing as a runner. I doubt we’ll see any real difference in the rotation.



BONE: Ray Hudson, Lucas Gingold in some order

I imagine the order will be a bit meaningless here, as both figure to be used depending on the situation. Hudson will be the more dangerous weapon as a pass-catcher, while Gingold figures to be more of a blocker.

Wide receiver
X: Kenny Lawler, Maurice Harris
H: Bryce Treggs, Darius Powe
Y: Stephen Anderson, Drake Whitehurst
Z: Chris Harper, Trevor Davis

Hard to believe that we might have too much talent at this position, but you can almost imagine that all eight of these wide receivers (and more) could see playing time. Jack Austin, James Grisom, Bryce McGovern are other receivers that could definitely see action.

Offensive line

Left tackle: Steven Moore, Aaron Cochran
Left guard: Chris Borrayo, Vincent Johnson
Center: Jordan Rigsbee, Chris Adcock
Right guard: Alejandro Crosthwaite, Matt Cochran
Right tackle: Brian Farley, Christian Okafor (still unresolved)

Offensive line still isn’t totally settled, even with depth starting to appear. Cal figures to have at least seven quality offensive linemen with experience in the rotation. Where exactly they all start hasn’t quite been figured out yet.

The big offensive issue is center depth. It’s so vital to the Tony Franklin System that Cal has plenty of centers that can handle the load of the offense and make the necessary adjustments to the play call. When Chris Adcock went down, the offense went into the tank last year.

Cal cannot let that happen again, which is why the Bears had been courting Chad Lindsay (now committed to Ohio State) to ensure even more depth. Right now it seems like Jordan Rigsbee has handled the load here, but Matt Cochran has been given a bit of a spin there too. I expect Zach Yenser to experiment with Rigsbee, Cochran, and Adcock when they’re all healthy in the fall, figure out who his primary two are at the position, name the starter that best handles all the necessities of the position, then shift the remaining two to the necessary starting positions.

There could be plenty of shifting on the right side. Left side is pretty much set in stone.

Defensive line

End: Brennan Scarlett, Jonathan Johnson
Nose: Marcus Manley, Trevor Kelly
Tackle: Jacobi Hunter (if he returns), Harrison Wilfley
Rush: Kyle Kragen, Puka Lopa

Defensive line depth is still non-existent. The Jacobi Hunter situation is definitely worth monitoring. If he does not return to Cal, it will be essential for the Bears to get Mustafa Jalil back on the field at all costs. If Jalil can’t go, it’ll be up for Kelly and Manley to push each other to their greatest potential. Here’s hoping to the return of Sione Sina as well; Jonathan Johnson doesn’t feel like he’s ready for the two-deep, but neither does Todd Barr or any other potential candidates for the backup spot behind Scarlett.

Linebacker
Will: Maximo Espitia, Ray Davison
Mike: Hardy Nickerson, Nathan Broussard
Sam: Jalen Jefferson, Michael Barton

The Bears needed extra bodies to step up here this camp, and thankfully Ray Davison and Maximo Espitia have hopefully provided the Bears with six solid rotation players. Nathan Broussard is starting to work his way back and Jason Gibson will probably be healthy in the fall. There could be shuffling depending on Nickerson’s recovery and whether Chandler Leniu is ready to go this season.

Secondary
Cornerback: Cameron Walker, Cedric Dozier
Cornerback: Darius Allensworth, Vachel Samuels
Strong safety: Damariay Drew, Avery Sebastian
Free safety: Michael Lowe, Griffin Piatt

Stefan McClure still isn’t back, so at the moment this appears to be the eight guys. Expect Walker or McClure to be the primary nickel back, with Dozier or Samuels finding their way onto the field often at cornerback when five defensive backs are needed. Also, if Sebastian heals fully by the fall, he will almost certainly be the starter.

Special teams
Kick returners: Khalfani Muhammad, another receiver (Trevor Davis? Kenny Lawler?)
Punt returns: Chris Harper or Bryce Treggs
Kicker: Noah Beito, Matt Anderson
Punter: Cole Leninger

Big question marks here. Just hoping for average at every position (and something below dead last from punt returns).

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