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Early spring pecking order

Cal has released its spring depth chart and there are some notables on it. The most intriguing is in the secondary, where, as of now, Bernard Hicks is slated to replace Thomas DeCoud at free safety. Previous discussions I’ve had with some of the coaches and players made me think that the Bears would keep both Hicks and Marcus Ezeff at rover, and perhaps give Brett Johnson or D.J. Campbell as shot to replace DeCoud. But Cal’s sports information department released this depth chart after consulting coaches, so Hicks is the man at free safety right now.

Hicks doesn’t have the size or speed that DeCoud had, so it will be a noticeable change for the last line of defense. But the bottom line is it gives defensive coordinator Bob Gregory a chance to get Hicks and Ezeff on the field at the same time — they competed all last season for playing time at rover, sharing time while the each battled injuries at certain times.

Chris Conte is listed as the new starting cornerback opposite Syd’Quan Thompson. This doesn’t come as a complete surprise because Conte started three games last year. But Darian Hagan started to come on at practice near the end of last year and could push Conte for that spot.

On offense, Michael Calvin and Jeremy Ross are slated as the starting wide receivers. Even though Calvin hasn’t played a single down in a college game yet, he could become the Bears’ go-to receiver immediately. He came into the program with big press clippings and didn’t disappoint as a member of the scout team last year. Nyan Boateng, the ultra-talented transfer from Florida who sat out last season because of transfer rules then was suspended after running into legal trouble, is listed as a backup.

Nate Longshore continues to be listed as the team’s starting quarterback, but as most of you know, the position is up for grabs. Longshore, Kevin Riley, and even Brock Mansion will each get a chance to make a bit for the spot, starting with spring practice (which is only 11 days away, believe it or not).

The Bears need to replace the left side of their offensive line. Chet Teofilo, who started at left tackle late in the season when Mike Gibson was out with a concussion, is slated to start there. Mark Boskovich, who started sharing first team reps at right guard at practice with Noris Malele near the ned of last season, is penciled in as the starting left guard. But Cal has several talented young linemen and I was told that the complexion of the line could change once spring begins.

Thompson and Shane Vereen are slated to take over for DeSean Jackson as the team’s punt returner, while Vereen, James Montgomery and Jahvid Best are all listed as kick returners.

There are no other real surprises. Alex Mack, Malele and Mike Tepper make up the rest of the offensive line. Cameron Morrah takes over for Craig Stevens at tight end and Will Ta’ufo’ou remains the fullback.

Rulon Davis, Cody Jones, Derrick Hill and Tyson Alualu are listed as the starting defensive linemen while Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder make up the linebacking corps. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the possibility of the team switching to a 3-4 defense, something that worked wonders in the Bears’ win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. That was partially due to the Falcons’ option offense, but the strength of the defense is in the linebackers, and a 3-4 would give Gregory a chance to get more of his best players on the field. Gregory has acknowledged it’s something he’s going to consider more strongly this season. The spring will give him more of a chance to determine just how much he wants to incoporate it into the team’s philosophy.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • dball

    JO, your enthusiasm for the season to start is contagious, this is good stuff!

    I searched the CC Times site for updates on Memorial Stadium and didn’t find much other than the UC police recently took down some things from the treesitters. Have you heard anything about the court ruling that the treesitters need to vacate at this time? No progress yet on the other court rulings? Reading the notes on Scout.com from Tedford’s interview, its clear that this issue is really causing him some pain and frustration.

  • Tyler M.

    This is a great blog and, like Dball already stated, gets people excited for the season.

    Out of the five new receivers, which one has the best chance of suiting up this upcoming season?

  • http://www.umich.edu/~sjmoura Scott M

    Thanks for the update JO! Can you provide a link to the depth chart?

  • Dan

    Would love to see Tyson move inside and start Cameron Jordan at the other D end position.

  • Marin Bear

    I hope the safetys can do some hitting this year. They sure didn’t in 2007. Syd Quan Thompson was a steady cover corner, but Ezeff was the only playmaker in the secondary. He made a huge tackle in the Oregon game, and was injured for the most part after that.
    Does anyone remember a big hit in the Cal Secondary, last year? (Crickets) Opposing receivers will continue to go across the middle at will if someone doesn’t step up. I don’t think its Hicks. My guess is Ezeff if anyone.

  • Steve in Concord

    How about the Rb sitution? Best and Montgomery got limted carries last year. Are Vereen and Slocum serious contenders for the starting spot? Looking forward to Spring Practice reports. P.S. Will Aaron Rodgers finlly break the “Tedford Quarterback” jinx?

  • Tim T

    Jonathan,
    Thanks for all the updates. I too would like to see this depth chart. Could you please post the link or print the depth chart here? I’m mostly interested in the Oline depth. Thanks again.

  • morencsarecoming

    Steve in Concord

    The “Tedford Quarterback” jinx is more fact than fiction. That is because we are talking about a kid becoming a product of a system. Kyle Boller is the perfect example. He was having a very difficulot time making his reads and so Tedford cut down half the field for him. That may work in college but it won’t work in the pros. Pete Carroll is acutally the QB guru. Carson Palmer won the Heisman and is succeeding well in the pros. Matt Leinart won the Heisman and I know the people down in Arizona are very high on him. John Booty will be one of the big surprises this coming year. Why? Because he is used to playing under pressure of antagonistic fans and the spotlight of the media. Some NFL team will be picking up a future Pro Bowler. I predict we will have two more Heismans over the next 4 years. Mustain will win one followed by Barkley. I predict Barkley may win two. Don’t tell me that our QBs are good because we have greeat WRs. Look at the WRs this year for Berkley and I didn’t see any Heisman candidate at QB. In fact I didn’t see a QB that would be the starting QB on any of the Pac 10 teams.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    DBall, I’m sure you saw it by now, but we had a Page one story on the trial in today’s paper.
    Tyler, I’d have to say Marvin Jones. He’s the most highly regarded among the incoming group. I think JC transfer Verran Tucker or Jarrett Sparks also could be in the mix.
    Scott, I don’t believe the depth chart is posted on Cal’s website, at least for now. It was part of the hard copy of spring notes I received (I don’t believe the version of the notes that are posted online includes the depth chart).
    Steve, the running back situation is a little unsettled. Best is out for the spring and Montgomery is going to be limited in the spring because of a minor surgery he recently had. It certainly will be a chance for Vereen and Slocum to get some reps and make an impact. But if everyone is healthy in the fall, it’s hard to imagine that Best wouldn’t be the starter.
    Tim, I will see about getting the depth chart posted on here.

  • Big D

    I’ve noticed that Longshore is listed this year as #6 and Felder is listed as #7. Verren switched to 34 from 24. Any reason for the number changes?

  • Mustang man

    Hicks started at FS in 06 and was awesome, I’m glad to see him moved back.

  • CalAlum97

    Moroniscoming, it always surprises me how you can function with such a warped sense of reality! Are you SERIOUSLY putting Lienart and Booty up as as good QBs? HA! You’ve got to be kidding! Stop making me laugh and squirt my soda out my nose! Lienart sucks and Booty is still unproven in the pros, but his college career speaks for itself (pew, he’s stinky!). Palmer has had a few good seasons lately, but he’s no Tom Brady or Peyton Manning…not even in their league oh-delusional-one! And if you go back and check both seasonal and career stats, Boller has Lienart BEAT! HA! Truth hurts doesn’t it Amy? Carroll a QB guru, WHAT A JOKE!! EVERYBODY KNOWS CARROLL IS A DEFENSIVE-EXPERT, NOT OFFENSIVE! You don’t even know the facts about your own coach…what a joke you are Amy. Get your facts straight before opening that blow-hole you call a mouth!

  • morencsarecoming

    CalAlum97

    Yes I am seriously putting both Leinart and Booty up as good QBs. THEY BOTH MADE THE PLAYS NECESSARILY TO WIN CONSISTENTLY so that our teams could always be in position to win the national championship. From the perspective of our fanbase that is what makes for a good to great QB (something which your program knows very little about). On top of that, our QBs received national prominence such as 2 out of our last 3 QBs won the Heisman trophy and unanimous All American honors.

    The last time I looked a stinky John David Booty led USC to two consequtive Rose Bowl wins and two Pac 10 championships. If that achievement had happened in your program you would have sainted the guy and called him the greatest QB in your program’s history.

    What you should see is that the line of very good to great QBs starting with Palmer then Leinart and then Booty happened under Pete Carroll’s watch. I don’t care who developed them. The point is it happened while Carroll was the Head Coach. The last time I looked the Head Coach is responsible for putting his best players on the field so that the team can have a chance to win games (something which both your Head Coach and your program fell greatly shortly of this past season). Is Carroll a defensive specialist 0 absolutely. Is that all he is? Evidently not.

    Finally it is laughable how you have already determined that Leinart sucks after 1 full year of as a pro QB. What does that make Rodgers out to be who in 3 years actually played one half of one game showing a little promise? Furthermore what does that make Klye Boller out to be who in 4 non memorable years has made himself out to be a royal bust of huge proportions. That’s a fact.

  • morencsarecoming

    CalAlum97

    BTW where a person is drafted is the truly the luck of the draw and based so much upon the quality of the player compared to others available at his same position and/or the need of the team. For instance the year Carson Palmer was drafted as the 1st QB in the draft was the same year Kyle Boller was drafted. The difference in career achievements is painfully obvious. The fact is Palmer was the only real great QB of that draft and yet at least 4 other teams needed QBs (Baltimore being one of them). Just because Boller got drafted in the first round is no indication of how really good he was. It spoke more of the need of the Ravens to draft an unproven but hopefully promising talent who could have a huge upside. In effect Boller was a “sleeper”

    Unfortunately as we all know some sleepers never wake up.

  • Jan K. Oski

    Booty put $C in a position to win the NC? What planet are you from, Amy? UrANUS? Bootylicious and his gang played crappy Illinois from the crappy Big Ten. They didn’t have a prayer for the NC. The spoiled children also didn’t have a chance at the NC in 06, so where you are you getting your facts? From your own entrails? Let’s see where he goes in the NFL draft.

    Then, which old man replaced Leinart last year? That has hope written all over it! Pathetic!

    Unfortunately, Rodgers won’t be able to school both Leinart and Palmer in head to head battles in the coming year, but it’s obvious he’ll be preparing for the playoffs, while they consider their vacation locales.

    Oh yeah, Gotta love the continually quality of $C players. Be sure to send milk and cookies to Maurice Simmons c/o of California Penal System. What were you saying about Pete’s noble work with underprivileged kids? Does he have a mandatory policy of giving them scholarships, if they are gangstas? Very generous!

  • FedUpBear

    Longshore as starting QB? Sigh. You know, it’s almost like Tedford *wants* to lose.

  • morencsarecoming

    Jan K Oski

    I find it hard to reason with someone who follows a team that had the worst collapse in college football history. It tends to make you blind to the mold growing in your own domicile. However unlike you I will leave names out but know this – take the log out of the eye of your own program before you try to take the speck out of ours.

    Rodgers just like Boller just like Akili Smith, Trent Dilfer, Joey Harrington and David Carr are “Stepford” QBs. They were schooled by Tedford in his system most highly suited to succeed in the college ranks. Take that one to the bank. Better yet, take that one on the same level of my pre season prediction for your team, a prediction that turned out to be perfect even while the most of the media were pumping your team into the NC game.

    BTW I have yet to see a preseason poll with your program in the top 25. How the media darlings of 2006 and 2007 have fallen!

  • dball

    JO, thanks for pointing out the article on the stadium project trials, I hadn’t seen it until you mentioned it. For anyone looking for it on the CC Times site, here’s the link: http://origin.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_8487690

    Its a sad situation, too bad we can’t just lease space at the Oakland Colesium for our Saturday home games…then the issue around the proximity of the athletic center wouldn’t be as relevant.

  • CalAlum97

    Moroniscoming, why are you talking about Lienart and Booty’s COLLEGE careers when you were CLEARLY making an argument for their PRO careers? Tell me, what have they done that’s so spectacular in the PROS?! Like I said, oh-delusional-one,
    “Lienart sucks and Booty is still unproven in the pros. Palmer has had a few good seasons lately, but he’s definitely no Tom Brady or Peyton Manning…not even in their league! And if you go back and check both seasonal and career stats (in the PROs), Boller has Lienart BEAT!”
    So like I said, the truth hurts, doesn’t it Amy? And don’t change the subject to college. Lienart sucks as a PRO QB and Booty will most definitely suck! And before you throw out that hiesman junk, winning the hiesman don’t mean squat in the PROs! Out of the 26 QBs that have won he hiesman since 1938, only 3-4 have made it big in the NFL. Nuff said!

  • Jan K Oski

    Hey Amy,

    I made a mistake in an early post. I thought you had a sophomore high school education, but you’re beginning to remind me of 2 year olds who repeat themselves in order to learn the language. Do you realize that you have repeated yourself dozens of times with the same boring post about ex-Tedford QBs? Is that all you have to annoy us? It ain’t workin, lil missy.

    I like how you avoid responding to parts of our post with the typical sissy, “I’m not going to play.” It shows an utter lack of creativity on your part.

    Here’s an example of a comeback for you. Preseason polls are nonsense, and we all know it. Michigan taught us all that lesson last year, but you obviously have no clue about parity in college football. Cal’s depth will match $C’s this fall, and you’ll be dialing 1-800-SUICIDE after the game.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Tim, I was told the depth chart I received was tentative. It was made available to some of the media just for general info. Once the depth chart becomes more solid, I will post it.

  • RollOnBears

    j.o. what was the RB depth chart? assuming best recovers 100% is he meant to be an every down back, or a 3rd down specialist?

    and i don’t want to get into the flame war above, but not recogizing norm chow in discussions about palmer and leinart is an insult to what chow did for USC.

  • BlueNGold

    Hey morefoolsarecoming- Kyle Boller was coached by Tedford for one year. Before that he was coached by horrible Tom Holmoe. Calling Boller a ‘Tedford QB’ is not only not accurate, it reveals how hopelessly stupid you are about Cal football.

  • Al

    what’s going to suck this year is that tickets in the gold and blue zones are going to be reserved…the seats will be assigned which could cause a lot of problems for people that get there early to pick the seats that they like…bad idea!