California Golden Bears Position Preview: Defensive Line


Before the football season starts, lets look at how the California Golden Bears are doing at each position entering the spring, and see where there are potential position battles. With a squad that’s returning 17 of 22 starters from a year ago, we might not see a lot of new faces in the starting lineup, but it doesn’t hurt to know who’s new, and who’s backing up those 17 returning starters.

A Year Ago…

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Another group that struggled for the Cal defense last season, the Bears’ defensive line simply could not get pressure on opposing team’s quarterbacks. Some of the blame for the lack of pressure could be put on the injury to defensive end, Kyle Kragen, who was down for most of the season because of it. That led to the Bears starting a number underclassmen who had little game experience.

Some of the blame could also be put on the Cal coaching staff, who did little to help a struggling line. The coaches called precious few blitzes, preferring to sit back in coverage, hoping that their defensive backs could cover opposing team’s wideouts. While this wasn’t a very successful tactic, their were some bright spots on the defensive line last season. Brennan Scarlett had a fantastic season at defensive end, and other young players seemed to show some development toward the end of the year.

Saying Goodbye:

New Faces:

  • DeVante Wilson, 6-5, 255
  • Luc Bequette, 6-2, 285
  • Trevor Howard, 6-4, 235
  • Zeandae Johnson, 6-5, 250
  • Cameron Saffle, 6-4, 225
  • Russell Ude, 6-4, 250
  • Cody Bickham, 6-4, 250

Current Roster:

2015 Preview:

Oct 24, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman (21) is tackled by California Golden Bears defensive tackle Trevor Kelly (91) in the first quarter at Levi

The biggest story on the defensive front this year is the loss of Brennan Scarlett, who transferred to the arch-rival Stanford Cardinal. With the loss of Scarlett on the defensive line, other younger players will need to step up this season.

However, through the entirety of spring practice, the defensive line has looked to be the most improved of any of Cal’s position groups from a year ago. Kragen, now a senior, has managed to stay healthy this spring, and Wake Forest transfer James Looney has received rave reviews from reporters and the coaching staff for having a fantastic spring.

At 6-3, 285 lbs., Looney has the size to dominate offensive lineman in the Pac-12. He looks to start among a group that last season, could not get pressure to the quarterback. With Looney’s size and skills, the Bears coaching staff is hoping that he can occupy two blockers, and free up blitzing linebackers such as Devante Downs.

Other seniors Barr, Johnson, Kelly, and Jalil, all look to impress as one of the most experienced groups on the defensive side of the ball. Other starters for the upcoming season look to be Barr, and Jalil, who also contributed heavily last season, and look to further improve an ailing pass rush.

Next: California Golden Bears Position Preview: Wide Receivers