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Football: Spring practice preview — defensive line

RETURNING STARTERS: Cameron Jordan, Derrick Hill

WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR: DeAndre Coleman

POSSIBLE SURPRISE: Keni Kaufusi

THE BREAKDOWN: No player will be harder to replace this season than defensive Tyson Alualu, who not only was one of the Pac-10′s top defensive linemen but a player who commanded respect among the team. There should be some good competition to replace him.

Junior Trevor Guyton figures to be the next in line. He was the next defensive end off the bench last season and held his own when he got his chances. But it also isn’t like he clearly proved he is Alualu’s heir apparent.

Ernest Owusu had a sensational season-opener against Maryland with two sacks, but you didn’t hear too much from him the rest of the way. But Owusu still got consistent playing time in a backup role and that experience should help him moving forward.

The wild card in this mix could be redshirt freshman DeAndre Coleman, a 6-foot-6, 309-pound man with the athletic ability to play outside. He will be given every opportunity to compete with the others in the spring, and the coaching staff is excited about his potential.

The Bears pretty much have their depth established at nose tackle, and with Derrick Hill’s injury history, that depth has been needed in recent years. Hill, who has been limited at times the past two years with knee and stinger injuries, says he’s in great shape and feels 100 percent healthy heading into spring ball. Kendrick Payne and Aaron Tipoti each saw extensive playing time last year to spell Hill and should be called upon again to play a vital role.

Despite that depth, redshirt freshman Keni Kaufusi should get a hard look during the spring. He isn’t a realistic possibility as a starter, but could work his way up the depth chart.

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.

  • Eric

    More of a LB issue, but the story copied below is cool – Scott Fujita was an awesome player on some pretty crappy teams, and he deserves recognition:

    Scott Fujita knows the right way to leave a city
    By MJD

    It was heartwarming when the long-downtrodden Saints won the Super Bowl. It didn’t get any less heartwarming when Drew Brees(notes) made the media rounds in the weeks after the game, establishing himself as the sweetest and most humble man in America.

    Apparently, everyone on the entire team was an absolute ray of sunshine.

    Scott Fujita(notes), a somewhat unheralded linebacker on that Super Bowl team, recently signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Browns. Before leaving town, though, Fujita did one more thing for the people of New Orleans: He gave half of his Super Bowl check to charity, half of that going to relief efforts in Haiti, and the other half going to coastal restoration in New Orleans. From nola.com:

    “The people of this city and region have been so good to me and my family that we just felt strongly about doing something to protect the city we have come to love so much, ” Fujita said. “And helping on the coastal issue has been on the back of my mind since I first got here.”

    Take note, other free agents. That’s how you leave a city. So far, the bar has been set at “hold a tearful press conference” or “thank the fans in a full-page newspaper ad” for a classy exit. Scott Fujita just raised it.

    Anyway, he’s Cleveland’s now, and if he’d like to continue his streak of doing charitable things for cities in which he plays, I’m sure he’ll find an option or two in Cleveland.

    Gracias, The Huddle.

  • Robert

    J.O.

    As the spring goes on, can you let us know what is new or different on the defensive side with the new DC? One thing I’m interested in will be how the D-Linemen are asked to play. If they are asked to play a certain way, who on the Bears does that benefit?

  • Dan

    Eric-

    Well done. You beat me to the punch. I came here to post the same article.

    Scott Fujita is a classy, classy Golden Bear. Excelling and winning is important, but what is more meaningful and valuable than what Scott Fujita did? Nothing is in my book.

    From the picture that accompanied this article of him on the field right after the Super Bowl victory with his beautiful family, he is a man who is clearly blessed and knows and appreciates it.

    Well done Scott Fujita- you have done the Golden Bear Nation proud, and you make us all proud to be associated on any level with such class.

  • GC

    Aaron Tipoti is a physical duplicate of Tyson-let’s hope he can duplicate Alualu’s efforts at CAL.

  • CruzinBears

    Eric & Dan – Agree, Scott Fujita was always a class act, from a walk on during the Holmoe years to Super Champion, he has always stuck up for the disenfranchised whether it is donations to New Orleans/Hatian relief to openly supporting gay rights.

    A much classier fellow than that other New Orleans Saint that backed out on several of his charitable scholarships he had set-up, I think his name was Reggie something, Buss? Bish? I forget but it will come to me