The 2020 California Golden Bears football season still remains intact and likely to happen. Without getting too much into the doubt, let’s take a look today at who the best returning players are for every team on the Cal 2020 football schedule.
Charles Williams, RB
Their run-first attack will obviously feature their running backs and RB Charles Williams is their top guy regardless. Williams ran for 1,260 yards last season and three touchdowns including 144 yards and two scores against Northwestern, their lone Power-5 opponent a year ago. Williams is a bruiser but also has some elusivity to his runs. The Cal linebackers will be tested early.
Trevon Moehrig + Ar’Darius Washington, S
Moehrig and Washington are perhaps the best safety, 1-2 combination in college football for 2020. They combined for nine interceptions last year alone as well as nearly 20 forced incompletions to boot. They don’t allow a lot of catches in their coverage but also have both documented sure-tackling skills. Chase Garbers and Co. will want to avoid them at all costs.
vs Cal Poly Mustangs
Jalen Hamler, QB
Hamler is a dual-threat at quarterback who also has a decent arm, throwing for 12 TDs against just five INTs last year. He scored a team-high nine touchdowns on the ground and combined for 1,689 total yards of offense last season. He returns as just a redshirt-sophomore in 2020.
vs Utah Utes
Brant Kuithe, TE
Kuithe has NFL written all over him and he fully seemed to realize that potential a season ago with Tyler Huntley throwing him the ball. It remains to be seen who is the QB here for Utah but they should have it figured out by the time they visit Berkeley, and Kuithe is definitely a factor into whoever is throwing it. He had 602 receiving yards a year ago with six scores as well as multiple first downs as a receiver and plus-blocking skills.
Abraham Lucas, OT
Like another program a bit further north than Berkeley, the Cougars best player resides on the end of the offensive line. Lucas is a stalwart in pass protection and perhaps one of the better unknown run blockers in the country. He has great movement for a man his size (6’7, 324) and should be a big factor come this meeting. He’s played nearly 1,000 snaps in each of the past two seasons and given up just three sacks in his career.
Kedon Slovis, QB
And I was higher on Slovis even before the J.T. Daniels transfer. Slovis hits all levels of the field and should be able to carve up most secondaries he faces in 2020. Health is his only concern because he can play inside structure and outside of it. Pressuring him seems to make him make some errant decisions but he has underrated athletic ability that he could utilize more this season if healthy.
vs Oregon Ducks
Penei Sewell, OT
A no-brainer. I didn’t even have to look at my notes. Sewell is the best left tackle in college football, the best offensive player in college football and perhaps could go down as the best left tackle in college football history. He’s that good. There is no one else in the country that can move the way he does at his size nor at his position. He will absolutely be a factor in this game, as he has been a factor in every single game he’s played in during his career. Pass protection is elite. Run blocking is superior to everyone. He has it all.
Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Edge
Rashed was a force last season with his 15 sacks, but those may be a bit noisy. They’re likely not to repeat if his previous season was any indication. Still, he represents a bully off the edge of the defensive line as well as a pretty stout run defender with great coverage skills if the play calls for it. Every opponent will be gameplanning around him this season.
Elijah Molden, CB
Perhaps one of the best pure cornerbacks in the entire conference, Molden locks down in the slot where coverage has become more and more valuable as every season passes. He recorded four interceptions a season ago but had 10 more pass breakups and was extremely stingy in allowing yards after the catch nor long receptions. He’ll lock down a slot receiver who’s shifty just as quickly as he’ll lock down a big tight end.
Jayden Daniels, QB
If you’re shocked at how few quarterbacks are on this list of best players Cal is facing this season, you are not alone. We’re finally here to the second (and last) in the slate of conference play. Daniels was absolutely terrific in most games last season, given his age and inexperience. Coach Herm Edwards got his youngster ready to play and play he did, tossing 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions last year. He also adds a dynamic element with his scramble ability as he’s deceptively fast and elusive for his frame.
Paulson Adebo, CB
Yes, 2019 saw some lows for Adebo, who was once a first-round lock for the NFL. Still, 2018’s highs were as high as anyone else in the conference and he flashed some great moments at times in 2019 despite the bad. If he returns to the 2018 form that saw him come away with double-digit plays on the ball, he vaults back into the NFL draft first round as well as top Pac-12 cornerback honors.
vs UCLA Bruins
Jake Burton, OT
Burton is a monster of a man, a stout 6’6, 312 pounds of lean, solid muscle. He occupies the right side of the Bruins offensive line and does it with terrific pass-blocking and run-blocking skills. After a shaky game against Cincinnati last year, he was pretty much a stalwart in pass protection (until he faced Cal in Week 14). He was always solid in run blocking a year ago and he’s likely to be drafted early in the NFL draft if he continues to improve the way he did in 2019.
So there you have it — my takes on the best players Cal is going to face in 2020 — who are you most scared of?