College football never sleeps. With Signing Day behind us, it's now less than a month before the Golden Bears head to spring camp to lay the groundwork for their 2016 campaign. How will Sonny Dykes reload his roster? Who will make his case to be Jared Goff's replacement? Where will Luke Rubenzer pop up next? Here's a preview of the most contentious position battles on the horizon.
The Jared Goff era couldn't last forever. For the first time since 2013, Cal fans face uncertainty at the quarterback position. The presumptive favorite is redshirt sophomore Chase Forrest, who served as Goff's backup last season. Forrest, who looked capable in his garbage time appearance versus Grambling State (10-17, 162 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), will nonetheless have to defend his head start against a few other contenders.
Those challengers include redshirt frosh Ross Bowers and the two new arrivals in Max Gilliam and Victor Viramontes (once Viramontes arrives in the fall). Forrest and Bowers have the advantage of time spent practicing the Bear Raid system, as well as the extra years of physical development, but Gilliam and Viramontes should still have plenty of chances to state their case. The other question mark in the QB drama is Luke Rubenzer, who had some memorable moments at quarterback in 2014 before transitioning to the safety position. With the need for help in the secondary, however, I'd expect him to stay put for now. For a deeper breakdown of the candidates, check out Avi's breakdown here.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
A new quarterback won't be the only change to Cal's passing game. Gone are Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, and Darius Powe. Gone are Stephen Anderson, Trevor Davis, and Maurice Harris. Gone are 75% of last year's targets, 88% of passing touchdowns, and 100% of Kenny Lawler's highlight reel catches.
Amazingly, there is still some returning experience on this roster. Chad Hansen and Raymond Hudson made an impact towards the end of the season, and should help to anchor the new additions. Guys like Kanawai Noa, Brandon Singleton, and Carlos Strickland will get their chance now that the receiver logjam has cleared up. The Bears also netted a big collection of wideouts in their recruiting class; Melquise Stovall, Jordan Duncan, and Jordan Veasy will be on campus in time to participate in spring ball.
If you're into depth chart battles, keep an eye on the defensive line this spring. The most pressing concern is how to replace sack leader Kyle Kragen at defensive end, but there are tons of opportunities for guys to make moves up the depth chart. DeVante Wilson should hang on to his starting spot at DE after starting eight games last season. Beyond that though, it's an open competition between guys like Noah Westerfield, Cameron Saffle, Trevor Howard, Luc Bequette, and others. JuCo transfer Rusty Becker could also make an appearance in the rotation.
The situation at defensive tackle isn't much clearer. James Looney and Tony Mekari combined for 17 starts in 2015, but many of the other contributors (David Davis, Mustafa Jalil, Trevor Kelly) are gone. The question is how the rotation will develop behind them. Russell Ude is a name that comes up often as a possible contributor, as well as Marcus Manley who got his first start against Arizona State.
The questions in the secondary mainly revolve around the departure of safety Stefan McClure. Damariay Drew will be back as a senior, but the rest of the rotation is up for grabs. Assuming Luke Rubenzer stays put he'll be in the mix, along with Griffin Piatt, Derron Brown, and the rising sophomore trio of Evan Rambo/Trey Turner/Billy McCrary.
The cornerbacks will have to replace Darius White, Cedric Dozier, and Joel Willis. That said, the Bears have possible contributors in Jaylinn Hawkins and Antoine Albert. They've also got quite a few young cornerbacks in the 2016 recruiting class, with Marloshawn Franklin enrolling early.
This would appear to be an open and shut case if Sonny's comments are to be believed. Dylan Klumph will be the guy, unless someone else makes big moves.