The offensive line: Some players we know. Addison Ooms will start at center. Patrick Mekari is the left tackle. Jake Curhan is favored to be the right tackle. But the guard battle is far from secure. Valentino Daltoso and Tanner Prenovost have been plenty impressive. Expect Semisi Uluae and Kamryn Bennett, but don’t bet on it.
The defensive line: Luc Bequette, Tony Mekari and James Looney appear to be the clear starting three, with Bequette the likeliest to battle challenges. But it’s not even quite clear what position they’re playing, as the 3-4 appears to be an interchangeable group of athletic defensive ends with no true nose guard anchor. There will be rotation at this position, so don’t imagine this will be a stable place.
The second cornerback besides Darius Allensworth, and the third, and the fourth: Feels like Marloshawn Franklin will hang on here, but there is tons of push at a very talented position. Traveon Beck, Camryn Bynum, Josh Drayden, Elijah HIcks have all flashed talent this offseason.
The runners-up in this battle still have plenty of opportunities to succeed too. Their positioning will be more likely to be in the nickel and dime spots in pass defensive packages.
- Better late than never for Coutts [Ryan Gorcey]: “Two weeks ago, California punter Steven Coutts was at his home in Australia, waiting for his student visa to come through. Now, he's battling for a starting spot.”
- The Great Shuffling Experiment: Cal Experiments with Position Changes [Trace Travers]: “When Justin Wilcox came in back in January, one of his edicts was to put players in a position to succeed. It's a 180 degree shift from the previous group of coaches (at least on the offensive side of the ball), where the system was in place and talent was expected to fit into it.”
- Happy-go-lucky Hawkins [Tim Miguel]: “The Cal football team looks to have added another talented receiver in Jeremiah Hawkins. One of those older guys that Hawkins is motivated to hold his own against in practice is his nephew sophomore safety Jaylinn Hawkins.”