2022 Cal Football Positional Preview: Defensive Backs
The defensive backs have been a staple and mainstay during the Wilcox tenure. Daniel Scott is the lone holdover from the days of the OG Takers. The youth behind and beside him will hope to maintain that tradition and also build upon the reputation set by the multiple NFL draft picks before them. A good combination of experience, athleticism and youth makes this group one of the most intriguing groups on the team but also one of the hardest groups to pinpoint a floor or ceiling for the season.
S Daniel Scott - 6-2/215/6thYear/Redshirt Senior
S Miles Williams - 6-0/200/4thYear/Redshirt Junior
CB Lu-Magia Hearns - 5-10/170/2ndYear/Sophomore
CB Isaiah Young - 5-10/185/3rdYear/Junior
Nickel Collin Gamble - 5-10/185/3rdYear/Junior
The biggest dilemma in the starting backfield is the partner to Daniel Scott at the safety spot. Ultimately I think it will be Miles Williams, but you could easily make the case for Craig Woodson as well and I won’t have much rebuttal for the pick. There is talent and depth, particularly at the safety spot. Collin Gamble’s switch to the nickel spot has been a revelation both for him and the team. The Bears have not had a gamechanger at nickel since Traveon Beck graduated, but now they seem to have found a player who could can. The corner spot has the most questions. Lu-Magia Hearns was the biggest surprise of last season and is poised to continue his role as CB1. Can he build on a stellar true freshman year? Will he succumb to the curse of the Sophomore Slump? Isaiah Young had some moments in the latter half of the season in 2021 he’ll get the nod to start opposite of Lu-Magia, but there are some youngsters that look to be pushing for snaps at the cornerback spots.
S Craig Woodson - 6-0/210/4thYear/Redshirt Junior
S Raymond Woodie III - 6-0/200/4thYear/Senior
S Hunter Barth - 6-2/210/2ndYear/Redshirt Freshman
CB Jeremiah Earby - 6-2/185/1stYear/Freshman
CB Kaleb Higgins - 6-2/200/2ndYear/Redshirt Freshman
Nickel Dejuan Butler - 5-11/205/3rdYear/Redshirt Sophomore
The easiest conversation here is that the 3 safeties listed will play this season. They have the talent and different skill sets so that they can spell Scott and Williams for different looks and play calls specific to their ability. Woodson has done well to get to the level, if not better, of where he was last fall camp prior to his season-ending injury. Woodie is incredibly athletic and might have the best closing speed on the back end. Hunter Barth is the hardest hitter and an absolute ball hawk if thrown anywhere in his coverage area. As I said, all three will play. The first cornerback off the bench might be Jeremiah Earby. The freshman has skyrocketed up the depth chart and the staff looks to be getting him as many snaps as they possibly can. Kaleb Higgins has also made some great plays in the fall, but still lacks a bit of the consistency that Earby has shown this fall. How many teams in the conference can put out bigger and stronger corners as the backups to their starters? Not many.
There is a reason for optimism because of the starters, rotations guys, and their talent. Competition for snaps only raises the form of the starters and their peers. Let’s see if this brand new generation of Takers can take advantage of the best front 7 Coach Wilcox has in Berkeley.