2022 Cal Football Positional Preview: Outside Linebackers
Pass Rush & Set the edge
Gone are the days of Cam Goode and some mainstays under the Wilcox Era, and in comes the new talent, names and depth for the glory position on this defense.
2 Deep +1
Xavier Carlton - 6-6/270/3rdYear/Junior
Odua Isibor - 6-3/260/6thYear/Redshirt Senior
Braxten Croteau - 6-5/245/4thYear/Senior
Orin Patu - 6-4/235/4thYear/Redshirt Junior
Myles Jernigan - 6-3/245/4thYear/Redshirt Junior
The stand-out name here has to be Utah Transfer Xavier Carlton. The Bears were a strong contender when Carlton was coming out of high school and maintained that relationship to pull him to Berkeley once he had entered the portal. He has been impressive. The length and speed alone are a terror off the edge. He plays the passing lanes well and also has an arsenal of moves for him to slide into the backfield. The strength is impressive but his fluid ability to get pressure into the backfield is what stands out for a guy his size. UCLA Transfer Odua Isibor is another transfer that the staff has been raving about. Moving outside, after playing mostly inside at UCLA, has been natural to Isibor. his experience inside helps him to be able to work the inside and outside gaps and is naturally more instinctive about where the space might open up for him. It also helps the man has some insane burst off the ball. I got to see him and Xavier work on some pass rush techniques after practice against one another, coaching themselves up. Iron sharpens iron.
Braxten Croteau aka The Croteau-Type is the best plug-and-play outside linebacker that’s on the roster. He has game experience. He has the technique. He has unique size. There really isn’t much that he does not do well. In FIFA terms, he’s a member of the 80s club. Every applicable stat probably holds above 80/100 in his ratings. Every team wants one, but they come few and far between. He could start, he could spell, he could play every down, or he could play specific situations. Any of those decisions are smart and I would have no problem with.
Myles Jernigan and Orin Patu have both come a long way for their moment to shine. Both guys have been here for 4 years biding their time to get a chance to play significant snaps. That patience looks to finally be paying off. Patu has always been a guy that we expected to blow up at some point. His speed in the pass rush was there and his technique was solid. The consistency in play was the issue and this fall seems to be where the light turned on. He’s been immensely effective in the pass rush and taken advantage of his 1-on-1 opportunities with guys like Carlton and Isibor manning the other side of the line demanding attention. Jernigan also has had a rise in his stocks. He plays fast off the line and uses strength in his rush technique. The different styles and skill sets will be interesting to watch as they find the best combo for opposing offensive lines.
Curlee Thomas IV - 6-3/250/1stYear/Freshman
Moso’oipala Tuitele - 6-4/245/1stYear/Freshman
Myles Williams - 6-3/250/2ndYear/Redshirt Freshman
Nate Burrell - 6-2/245/1stYear/Freshman
Outside of Myles Williams, I would be very surprised if we saw these guys getting playing time beyond the 4 game limit to maintain their redshirt. That being said the young guys are very talented and some of them have already played their way out of the developmental period set aside for newcomers. They have a bright future for the defense and might have to play significant roles starting next season. Myles Williams, on the other hand, might have an argument to be listed with the list above. Ultimately I left him on this list since he doesn’t have much game experience, but he’s one that has pushed his way into the conversation of being a part of the rotation. He currently falls right outside of the 2-deep +1 but if we were needing of another body due to an unforeseen reason, I would think he’s the first name to be pushed up the depth chart