HELPED HIS CAUSE: Michael Coley. The redshirt freshman has taken advantage of some of the departures Cal had from its secondary since last year. Gone are NFL draft pick Chris Conte, Bryant Nnabufie and Darian Hagan. Josh Hill, a part-time starter last season, missed the spring to focus on academics. Coley was given an opportunity and played well as the nickel back. Coley was a well-regarded recruit coming out of high school in 2010 and could make an impact as the first defensive back off the bench, even when Hill returns in the fall.
WORK TO DO: Adrian Lee. Another redshirt freshman, Lee benefitted from a lot of reps in the spring. He’ll need that experience when fall camp arrives because he’s going to face some stiff competition from newcomers Stefan McClure, Kameron Jackson and Joel Willis to get into the playing rotation. Coach Jeff Tedford has said from the outset the three incoming corners are going to be given every chance to be in the rotation. Lee needs to use his experience to gain an edge.
WHERE WE STAND: While the linebacker corps may be the deepest position on the team, the secondary’s starting unit is at the same level. Cornerback Marc Anthony, following up his first season as a starter, had an excellent spring. He and Steve Williams give the Bears potentially one of the top corner duos in the Pac-12. Sean Cattouse is experienced, talented and a leader, and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has to be comforted by the senior’s presence on the back end. D.J. Campbell, now a fifth-year senior, appears to have locked down the other safety spot after seeing time as a backup last season. With Coley, C.J. Moncrease and Alex Logan, and possibly even freshman Avery Walls, the Bears appear to be in pretty good shape at safety. The only question in the secondary is the depth at corner. Cal can use Hill there, but don’t be surprised if another incoming freshman cracks the two-deep in the fall.
MOVING FORWARD: The Bears could really see some playmaking Cattouse this season. The fifth-year senior has a better grasp of Pendergast’s schemes and is on the radar of NFL scouts. Anthony could emerge as one of the conference’s better corners. He is a pretty good cover man and displayed excellent open-field tackling during the spring. Hill can backup at both safety and corner, so would he be a better candidate to play nickel? His absence this spring certainly gave Coley a boost. The biggest developments this fall will be at backup corner. Out of the three incoming freshman, McClure is considered to be the one with the most potential.