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Eight Bears earn nine spots on Athlon Sports’ preseason All-Pac-12 teams

Big things have been projected for these Bears

NCAA Football: Colorado at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

With finals over at UC Berkeley, that means there’s officially nothing stopping us from looking forward to the 2019 football season and we do so thanks to Athlon Sports, who named their 2019 All-Pac-12 teams. Eight California Golden Bears have been recognized, including one player earning two spots.

There’s a good chance you know that Cal has struggled offensively—and that shows with these selections. The only Bear on offense who was recognized was OL Jake Curhan on the fourth team. After redshirting in 2016, Curhan has started all 25 games over the past two seasons at right tackle and twice earned second-team All-Academic Pac-12 honors; his own teammates awarded him the Andy Smith Award as a redshirt freshman for the most Big C playing time.

LB Tevin Paul earned a spot on their defensive fourth team, which is modeled more after a 3-3-5 defense. Also like Curhan, Paul will be redshirt junior next year. Paul has played in 24 games (including all 13 games from last season) with 9 starts (all of which were last year). Last year, Paul tallied 44 tackles, 2.0 sacks, three quarterback hurries, and two pass break-ups—and lead the team with 11.0 tackles for loss.

Washington State v California
Bequette will eat your quarterback.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

With no Bears on the third team defense, we’ve got three on the second team. Starting up front is DE Luc Bequette. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Bequette played in the first four games before a season-ending injury kept him off the field, but nothing’s been able to stop him since—he has started all possible 25 games in the past two seasons. Last year, he had 49 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss, but his biggest impact was in disrupting the game by breaking up a pass, hurrying the quarterback, recovering two fumbles, blocking a PAT attempt, and tying the team lead with 5.0 sacks. He was recognized with all-conference honors and named the team’s most valuable defensive lineman (Brick Mueller Award).

Three members of the Takers were named, which I see as a slight to Elijah Hicks and Traveon Beck for not being recognized. One of the second-team cornerbacks is Camryn Bynum; across his redshirt-freshman and redshirt-sophomore years, he started all possible 25 games. Last year, he posted 48 tackles, 10 pass break-ups, and 2 interceptions (tied for the team lead) and he also had DB coach Gerald Alexander’s favorite play.

Joining Bynum on the second team is Jaylinn Hawkins at safety. In his three non-redshirt years, Hawkins played in 36 games with 26 starts. Last season, he proved to be a ballhawk—he led the conference in interceptions (6) and interceptions per game (0.5), ranking among the top five in those two stats nationally. He also contributed significantly to the fame (read: notoriety) of the Cheez-Int Bowl by securing three interceptions (a record for that bowl game) and was named the Defensive MVP of the game and recognized on Sports Illustrated’s All-Bowl team despite losing.

The only Taker to make it to the first team is Ashtyn Davis. After redshirting in 2015, he has played in 37 games, starting 22 of them. From the safety position last year, Davis made 56 tackles (third on the team after the destroyers at middle linebacker), had 5 pass break-ups, recovered a fumble, and secured four interceptions—one of which he returned for a touchdown. He earned all kinds of recognition, ranging from Player of the Week to All-Conference honors.

NCAA Football: Colorado at California
Fear this man—Evan Weaver.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Our other first-team defender is LB Evan Weaver. He did not play in his first game as a true freshman, but has played in all 36 games since with 17 starts. I say this in the nicest possible way, but Weaver was a beastly terror last year. As a junior last year, Weaver made a monstrous 159 tackles—second in Cal’s record books for tackles in a season. He also made an impact with tackles for loss, sacks, and interceptions—one of which he returned for a touchdown in a stunning upset over Washington. Weaver also earned a bevy of recognition for his play last year and is on preseason watch lists already.

For special teams, we see a familiar face with Ashtyn Davis being named the second-team kick returner. The hurdler used his track skills to return 24 kicks for 629 yards; his average of 26.2 yards per return was second in the conference and he was one of just three Pac-12 players to score a touchdown on a kick return.

The last Bear to be recognized is punter Steven Coutts. Named to the first team, we saw Coutts’s boots in all 13 games last year, punting 72 times with an average of 41.5 yards per punt. His career longest punt was 73 yards and last year, he pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 37 times and forced 25 fair catches vs. just 2 touchbacks.

Congrats to these eight men—we look forward to great things from you in 2019!