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Cal football has a top 25 transfer class, but did all roster needs get addressed?
The Bears added talent all over the field, except perhaps at the positions of biggest need.
Image via @Calfootball on twitter
Although the spring transfer portal entry window has closed, and players no longer can add their name to the transfer list, efforts to recruit free agent players will continue well into the summer. We won’t know Cal’s final roster until . . . well, probably a few days before fall camp opens.
But by now, the highest impact transfers have mostly made their choices, and we have a pretty good idea of who will be competing for playing time next season.
As of Sunday night, Cal has the 15th ranked transfer class in college football, and it’s not hard to understand why. Two quarterbacks! Four running backs! Five receivers! Two linebackers! Four defensive backs! The sheer volume is impressive, and most of the transfer classis made up of guys who got significant playing time or with a strong recruiting ranking.
But you may notice a gap in where Cal was able to bring in talent. The biggest weaknesses in Cal’s roster last year were on both lines. Currently, Cal has added two offensive linemen and zero defensive linemen. Cal’s additions along both lines:
OL Matthew Wycoff, Texas A&M (three years of eligibility left)
OL Martin Tine, East Los Angeles College (two years of eligibility left)
Let’s start with the good news: Wycoff is almost certainly going to be an instant starter somewhere along the line - anybody who gets all SEC freshman recognition should be expected to be a plus player in the Pac-12 as a sophomore. Adding an impact player like Wycoff is a major coup.
But the larger impact is murkier. Cal came into the off-season desperately needing tackles; remember that Cal was so bereft of tackles on last year’s roster that they attempted to transition Ben Coleman to tackle, which went so poorly that they eventually returned him to left guard, and then Coleman transferred away. I can’t say how Cal’s new offensive coaching staff evaluated the offensive line roster but I would have guessed that they would want to have added at least three players just at tackle alone.
Well . . . Wycoff was an interior offensive lineman at A&M. Now, his recruiting profile indicates that he’s a bit of a tweener and could play up to right tackle, and I’m sure that Cal plans to play him as such, but it’s not a guarantee that the position switch will go smoothly.
Meanwhile, Tine did play left tackle , and his size (6’6’’ 310) would indicate that he might be able to stay at that position at the power conference level. But the transition from community college ball to Pac-12 ball is significant and expecting anybody to make a big year 1 impact is dangerous.
The loss of Houston left tackle transfer Trevonte Sylvester to Louisville was a strong indication that Cal still sees offensive tackle as a position of need, but if Cal’s biggest target still left was a guy who only started receiving back-up snaps last year, that’s a solid indication that major impact players just aren’t available anymore through the portal this late in the cycle.
In short, the linemen currently on the roster are likely the players Cal will enter 2023 relying on. Fans hoping for a major turnaround at offensive line will have to hope that: 1) Matthew Wycoff is ready to be a solution at tackle from the jump 2) last year’s roster was so badly coached and badly deployed that one off-season of competent coaching and development will lead to major on-field progress.
And on the defensive line, where Cal hasn’t added through the portal a season after finishing 111th in the nation in total sacks and 122nd in tackles for loss? Just whisper a prayer to yourself as you fall asleep: “Brett Johnson is coming, Brett Johnson is coming, Brett Johnson is coming . . .”