The losses of Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder will be felt in the locker room just as much as on the field. All three guys, especially Follett and Williams, were team leaders and arguably the heart and soul of the team.
But there is another linebacker who is relishing the chance to be a leader — Devin Bishop. Now that he figures to start, the already outspoken senior should command even more respect from his teammates.
“You can be a leader in your own way, but you can’t really be a vocal player unless you play,” Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. “He’s still kind of waiting on that part of it. It will come at the right time.”
That being said, Bishop himself says he already sees himself as a leader and he would speak up whether he plays or not. He already started exhibiting some of that side of him last year as a backup.
“Being a vocal leader is very important and something we need,” Bishop said. “It’s good to lead by example, but sometimes it’s even better to hear a strong voice. Sometimes that’s what people need. I did it a little bit last year, even though I didn’t play that much. It’s just my personality.”
Bishop’s older brother, Desmond, was a respected leader when he played linebacker for the Bears. But Desmond was the quiet type, which really made teammates listen when he actually said something.
“They’re different personality-wise,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “Desmond was very quiet. He was a quiet leader. When Desmond said something, people really paid attention to what was going on because he didn’t say much. He really led by example more than anything.
“Devin is more of a guy who is vocal, and it’s in a good way. It’s enthusiastic and it helps the team get motivated every day. He really plays an important role.”
On the field, Bishop has been getting reps at inside linebacker on the strong side, but Gregory said he’d like to see him on the outside as well. Same goes with Mychal Kendricks, who has been playing strong side on the outside, but could see reps inside as well.
“We’re trying to find a home for (Bishop),” Gregory said. “He has work to do. He knows it. He has to get better. I think he has all the tools to be really good. He’s a really good athlete.
“We’re trying to find the best place for him. We don’t want to keep moving him around.”
While Kendricks’ speed is what stands out, Gregory said he still has the skill set to play on the inside as well.
“We want to get him a spot, get him coached up so he can play,” Gregory said. “I think he has some speed to be a guy to play outside, but I also think he has some tools to be an inside linebacker.
“It’s up to us to find those guys a home that they can best excel.”