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Football: Gregory on Signing Day

Here’s more from my conversation yesterday with defensive coordinator Bob Gregory about the defensive haul the Bears brought in on Signing Day:

General thoughts:

“The plan from the start was that we need to get some athletic, fast guys in here, especially at the linebacker position because we need more linebackers on the field. It worked out that way.”

On the linebackers:

“We need them. Every one of those guys has an opportunity to help us as freshman. It obviously depends on how they handle the transition and all that, but they all have the ability to play for us right now. This is as good a linebacker class we’ve had since I’ve been here, that’s for sure.”

On linebacker Chris Martin:

“He’s everything you’re looking for. He’s a big guy that can run. He’s a guy that can also drop in space. But the first thing we’re looking for is a guy who can come off the edge and get pressure on the quarterback, which we need. We certainly have upgraded at the outside linebacker position.”

On the chances of the linebackers playing as true freshman:

“Those guys have a chance to come in and contribute very early. They’re all smart football players. They are all very good athletes. They all play at a very high level. Hopefully they will because we’ll take every one of those guys playing right now.”

On defensive end Gabe King:

“He’s what we’re looking for in terms of that defensive lineman rush guy. Even though we’re in the 3-4 and those guys kind of gobble up blocks, we still always want to have a Cam Jordan kind of guy that we can put on the edge as well. He’s a big strong powerful guy that can give us that on the defensive line. He moves well. He’s a very talented pass rusher. He has a chance to be that next defensive lineman pass rusher that we’re looking for.”

On cornerback Adrian Lee:

“He’s very raw in terms of experience. He’s the guy who’s furthest away, but he has a boatload of potential.”

On communicating to the players their chances of playing right away

“One of the things we tell recruits and our guys know is that every year, except for this past year, is that we’ve had a freshman either start or play for us in some kind of capacity since we’ve been here.  We have a pretty good track record. If you’re the best guy, and you’re a freshman, you’re going to play.”

On whether he feels any pressure to produce with all the new talent:

“I feel excited about it. I feel like these are the kind of guys that can push us to become a better defense. Some of the things that we didn’t do very well last year, like put pressure on the quarterback, these guys can help us do that. They can create some havoc in the backfield.

“We certainly need guys that can do the things that we’re looking for. I think these guys at some point, whenever that is and I do think it’s going to be sooner than later, can help us do that. We have to do a good job of bringing them along. We have to bring these guys along to help us. By no means, are we thinking these guys are going to redshirt. We want these guys to play.”

On last season’s failure to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks:

“We didn’t do it last year. I think what happened at times last year was the ball was out so fast at times that we didn’t blitz as much as we should have blitzed. That then gave the quarterback at times a little more time. And then there were times where we got good pressure on the quarterback and we didn’t make plays in the back end either. There were times when the pressure was great but we don’t make a play on the ball. It’s everything.

“Tyson did a nice job getting pressure on the quarterback. When we blitzed, it was generally pretty good. It’s the whole thing. We have to get pressure up front to get the timing off the quarterback. We have to play better in the secondary. It all fits together.”

On the new linebackers ability to play run defense:

“All those linebackers are going to keep our great tradition of run defense going. Those guys play the run very well. Those inside guys (Nick Forbes and Dave Wilkerson) are going to be great two inside linebackers for us. Gabe King as a defensive lineman can strike blockers and play the run. We’re excited about all of it. I think these guys give us a great bunch of guys for the future, there’s no doubt.”

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.