It was a play the Cal defense never would have made last season, but the Bears’ long-dormant recruiting Class of 2011 came to the rescue.
With the Bears leading 7-0 midway through the first quarter of their opener at Northwestern three weeks ago, the Wildcats’ Warren Long took a handoff into the line on fourth-and-1 from Cal’s 22, and was stuffed for no gain.
Defensive end Brennan Scarlett and safety Stefan McClure got credit for the tackle that helped propel the Bears to a 31-24 victory, but teammates point to tackle Mustafa Jalil, who shoved the Northwestern guard back into the ball carrier.
“He basically stopped the whole play,” linebacker Jalen Jefferson said.
Did the Bears ever make such a timely play on defense last year, when they allowed nearly 46 points per game and went 1-11? Of course, Jalil, Scarlett and McClure — all part of a heralded 2011 recruiting class — never were on the field together last fall.
Injuries dismantled the Bears, with Jalil, Scarlett, McClure, safety Avery Sebastian and linebacker Nathan Broussard — all potential starters — combining to play six games in 2013.
Two years earlier, those players arrived at Cal with big dreams, part of what Scout.com rated as the 16th-best recruiting class in the country. The class also included Jefferson and five-star defensive tackle Viliama Moala, who turned pro after his junior season last fall but went undrafted.
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