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Cal football fall camp position battles to watch
Which are the big storylines to follow this fall practice for California Golden Bears fans?
There’s still a lot of unsettled space as to who will be starting for Cal this season. Life is change and the portal is making sure we feel that regularly.
Let’s take a look at some of the prominent position battles.
QB1: There will be many words spilled in the coming weeks about the battle to be the next signal-caller at Cal. All signs point to Sam Jackson being the presumptive starter, but Fernando Mendoza had his moments in the spring and Ben Finley will bring an additional dose of experience.
It would not be a surprise to see Cal name a new starter sometime early in the fall practices. It would be even less of a surprise to see multiple Cal quarterbacks see the field in meaningful action this year.
The backup running back: Who will be getting the bulk of snaps behind Jaydn Ott? There is a host of options with the transfers in Oregon vet Byron Cardwell, Tennessee youngster Justin Williams-Thomas, Purdue grad transfer King Doerue, and Montana State stalwart Isaiah Ifanse. It all might depend on who is the healthiest. All four have had injury issues, so this battle isn’t going to be easy to settle.
The fourth wide receiver: Jeremiah Hunter is locked at WR1. Taj Davis is expected to take J.Michael Sturdivant’s role in be the second outside guy. Mavin Anderson remains the dependable inside slot presence. But when Cal goes into four verts, who is their second WR? Monroe Young? Do they go with a tight end and put J.T. Byrne, Asher Alberding, or Jack Endries out there to catch? Or is a transfer like Brian Hightower and Marquez Dortch finding their spot?
Cal’s other offensive tackle, plus a close battle on the interior: Four starters seem locked in. You’d expect returning center Matthew Cindric and guard/center Brian Driscoll to resume their roles, and it’s possible Siaope Vatikani also factors in. Power five transfer guard Matthew Wykoff and tackle Barrett Miller are also favorites to start and hopefully upgrade what was a very poor Cal offensive line last year. So the fifth lineman likely comes down to tackle. Will it be Brayden Rhome or TJ Session? Could JUCO transfer Martin Tine get in there? Does Everett Johnson make the leap?
Who starts on the edge? Jackson Sirmon and Sergio Allen are expected to man the inside linebacking spots, with Nate Rutchena and Muelu Iosefa likely to grab any leftover snaps. But then the outside is less settled. Xavier Carlton is probably a presumptive favorite on the edge and Myles Jernigan has plenty of experience. Florida transfer David Reese is also expected to get in on the action.
A pitched battle at cornerback and nickel: Newcomers (and Mountain West standouts prior to transfer) Patrick McMorris and Nohl Williams will likely be slotted into starting roles at safety and cornerback respectively. With Craig Woodson returning, that means Jeremiah Earby, Lu-Magia Hearns III and Isaiah Young are likely battling for that other corner spot. Collin Gamble is the prohibitive favorite at the nickel spot, but there is some buzz about JUCO transfer Matthew Littlejohn.
Cal fans, what position battles are you watching out for this fall?