For a team not getting a ton of hype this offseason, the California Golden Bears are getting quite a bit of player recognition on preseason watch list. And it isn’t just offense, as defenders from a bad Cal defense are getting their fair share of recognition. Cal might have aways to go depth-wise, but there will definitely be talent available for new coaches to play around with and mold their expectations.
This time around it’s Devante Downs, as the linebacker made the Butkus Award watch list that awards the best linebacker in college football. Downs has struggled with injuries and consistency. Is this the year he puts it all together and makes a big leap in the Justin Wilcox defensive scheme?
Downs has played in 33 career games with 13 starts over his first three seasons at Cal from 2014-16 and heads into his 2017 senior season as the Golden Bears' active career leader in tackles with 147 while he also shares the team's active career lead with 5.0 sacks (-26 yards). He has added 9.0 tackles for loss (-35 yards) as well as three interceptions that he has returned for 20 yards, three pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble, as well as two kick returns for eight yards. Downs led Cal with a single-season career-high 84 tackles as a 2016 junior.