Cal Football Spring Practice Report No. 3

The Bears are bulking.

Monday’s interviews brought Justin Wilcox’s second interview of spring camp, as well as an introduction to new tight end coach Geep Chryst.

Head coach Justin Wilcox

The Golden Bears want to be putting on the gains this season after a limited offseason in 2020, and the gains are coming. Wilcox noted a cumulative gain of 647 pounds (admittedly, over 100 players) in the past several months.

Wilcox said there’s a sense of normalcy starting to return to football routines that just wasn’t there in 2020, and it’s allowing for the coaches to start accelerating practice work (i.e. everyone getting as many reps as possible simultaneously) to make up for the lost year.

  • One redshirt freshman getting pub is defensive back Collin Gamble, who has alternated between nickel and corner. Wilcox noted his twitchiness, allowing for quick acceleration and some flexibility in the position he could play.

  • Trey Paster’s move to inside linebacker allows for more positional switching between outside and inside for Kuony Deng. Deng’s gains size-wise have allowed for this, as he’s now able to take on more versatile assignments.

  • True freshman tight end Jermaine Terry is coming along. He noted his physicality and growth mindset, believing he has what it takes to be a great player.

  • The wide receivers have taken a jump, with Wilcox noting redshirt freshman Jeremiah Hunter in particular.

  • Wilcox emphasized that a defensive back coach announcement is coming. But Wilcox would prefer to make the right hire rather than rushing into a decision, and that he will still be involved in coaching the position. Could this mean a younger hire?

  • Defensive lineman Brett Johnson is getting a chance to experiment outside of nose guard, as both Stanley McKenzie and Ricky Correia are making noise on the interior. Johnson is now able to play as both a defensive end and a three-technique defensive tackle.

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  • Several Cal players are currently out for spring camp: Nose guard Aaron Maldonado, defensive end Ethan Saunders, offensive lineman Gentle Williams, outside linebacker Curley Young.

  • Cal players still cannot access the locker room or cafeteria normally due to indoor restrictions.

Tight end coach Geep Chryst

  • Although Chryst had some time off, between his brother Paul being the head coach at Wisconsin and his sons playing at Stanford and Oregon State, he doesn’t feel too out of the loop.

  • Chryst also commented on Terry, who despite his weight (268 pounds!) moves particularly fluidly down the field. Chryst noted his heavy hands when he’s blocking, able to push his defenders back on their heels.

  • Chryst has seven tight ends in his rotation, and is aiming to get reps for all of them to keep this group as ready as possible for the fall.

  • Chryst’s last job was with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave with the Denver Broncos, noting that now with one year in the offense, the entire team should now be able to advance more of the concepts.

  • Chryst talked a little bit about his experience with running a sports analytics company, and how important it is to know when and where to go for it on 4th down. Can Cal improve its 4th down decision-making this season?

  • Chryst’s last college game was the 1990 Copper Bowl at Wyoming, where Cal beat the Cowboys 17-15.

Linebacker Trey Paster

  • Paster has loved the transition to the linebacking position, getting more physicality. It’s his first time playing linebacker.

  • Of the linebackers he’s played with, Evan Tattersall, Mo Iosefa, and Blake Antzoulatos have all impressed Paster in particular.

  • Paster feels pretty comfortable with his coverage ability, and now is trying to improve his run reads.

Defensive back Josh Drayden

  • With Wilcox now coaching the defensive backs directly this year, the team is now on edge, looking to perform as best they can under the head man’s eye.

  • Now that Drayden has graduated, he’s working in a graduate program focused on entrepreneurship. It’s been a lot of hands-on activities.

  • Drayden is getting a chance to play both nickel and corner, although he still prefers the nickel spot to get a better chance to be close to the football.

  • Drayden has been mentoring some of the younger players in his sixth year in the program, now that the game has slowed down.

  • Drayden praised the intelligence and work ethic of true freshmen Hunter Barth and Kaleb Higgins, also talking about their length and ability. Higgins is particularly tall for a corner, and Barth reminds Drayden of Daniel Scott.

Wide receiver Nikko Remigio and offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso

  • Daltoso is playing at right tackle. sliding into Jake Curhan’s position. In his sixth year at Cal, he’s now getting his masters in public health.

  • The offense was particularly condensed in 2020, so things will be a bit more complex. Remigio noted that the wide receivers have a bit more flexibility post-snap compared to last season.

  • Players that are standing out among the youngsters: Ryan Lange and Bastian Swinney at offensive line, Jeremiah Hunter, Aidan Lee and Justin Baker at wide receiver, Akihli Calhoun and Patrick Hisatake at linebacker, Collin Gamble at defensive back.

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