Cal football: Spring review — linebackers

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Mychal Kendricks. Many thought this would be the opportunity for Kendricks to make an impact, and that’s exactly what has happened. Kendricks flashed gobs of potential last year as a true freshman and now it appears he’s locked into a starting job on the inside. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory used Kendricks on both the outside and inside this spring before finally settling him inside. That comes as a bit of a surprise with Kendricks’ speed, but Gregory said he has all the tools to be a very good inside linebacker.

WORK TO DO: Devin Bishop. This is not an indictment of how Bishop played this spring. He played well. But when Kendricks ultimately wound up inside, Bishop wound up outside. Bishop ended spring as the starting weakside outside linebacker, but that’s a position he’s expected to get competition from junior college transfer Ryan Davis in the fall. Bishop will have to continue to improve in the fall to hold off Davis, who is believed to have lots of potential as a rush linebacker.

WHERE WE STAND: For the first time in a couple years, there are no Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder to hold down the linebacking corps. Obviously, the Bears have some major players to replace, but Gregory is confident in his young linebackers. Mike Mohamed, who backed up all four positions last year, may have been the team’s best linebacker. He’s now going to start inside with Kendricks. Mohamed and Kendricks potentially give Cal a dynamic due of inside backers. Eddie Young maintained his job on the strong side outside.

MOVING FORWARD: The biggest question in the fall will be the weakside outside spot. Gregory was happy with how Bishop played at the end of last season and in the spring, but Davis deserves a look. The Bears also have to consider where D.J. Holt fits in. Despite playing through a shoulder injury this spring, Gregory repeatedly praised Holt for his play. If nothing else, he gives the Bears some depth on the inside.

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.

  • Jan K Oski

    JO, you seem to be really high on Davis, but what about the other two JUCO recruits, Meadows and Price? Is it too early to tell on them, or are the coaches simple silent about them? Thanks again for the in depth report!

    Go BEARS!

  • Lawrence

    I honestly can’t remember a Cal team this loaded in terms of depth. Even in the bad years, we’ve always had talent at the ones, but the twos and threes were where we lost. Now, we’ve got depth and that bodes well for the season.

  • Boris

    Talent and depth everywhere but at QB…

  • wehofx

    Thanks, JO, the entire Review has been excellent and the football fix is much appreciated.

    Lawrence, couldn’t agree more.

    Boris, don’t give up on KR. They’re still kids. Look at the difference 1 year made for C McCoy at Texas. I also have high hopes for B Mansion and B Sweeney. Seems like they both raised their games significantly during Spring practice.

    Go Bears!

  • Jethro

    I’d like to hear more about Chris Little, the 6-2, 224 redshirt freshman who moved from safety to 2nd team OLB behind Bishop. He sounds like he was making plays during the spring. If he can’t start at LB, he seems like he should be on the field as a SS, crackin’ heads like (dare I say it) numbnut Taylor Mays, if Little has any speed at all.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Jan, from what I hear, I think they are looking at Price more as an inside guy. Meadows supposedly isn’t up to the same level as Davis.
    Jethro, Little opened a lot of eyes with his play during the final scrimmage. But he still is very new to the position and probably is a little ways away from getting significant playing time. If he continues to soak up the playbook and get comfortable with the position at a reasonable pace, it sure looks like there is some potential there.

  • locamotiion

    Jo. Does our defensive playbook seem to be thicker with more zone blitzes and things of that nature. How creative did our system look?

  • jpf

    Watching the Linebackers fly around during scrimmage was awesome. It was really not fair to evaluate the QBs this spring because the LBs, plus the DBs, and the DL were really pushing the offense. And it wasn’t just the 1s. Agreed that depth looks awesome for Cal this year. Very few “super-stars” compared to years past, but this is football a true team sport. I think Ted Miller’s assessment that Cal has the potential to win the big enchilada is spot on. They just have to catch fire.