Starters Lost: Copeland Bryan
Key Returners: Jason Parker, Michael Shelton
Others Lost: none
Key Newcomers: Louis Holmes (tentative), Ricky Elmore, D'aundre Reed, Braylon Broughton (tentative)
Coach: Joe Robinson (3rd season)
1. Johnathan Turner 6-3 250 So. Corona, Calif. (Corona)
Turner got a second crack at a freshman year last season and made the most of it as he was awarded Freshman All-American honors. Turner had 27 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season, but will need him to be a better pass rusher this season. He's a tall, athletic, yet strong end.
1. Marcus Smith 6-5 280 Sr. San Diego, Calif. (Mission Bay)
the Cats have starting experience returning in senior Marcus Smith, who successfully petitioned the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility due to injury early last season. Smith is a big, potentially physical end who has yet to maximize his potential. Smith has always been a solid player but has not been the dominant performer that many feel he could be. If Louis Holmes becomes eligible, expect Smith to slide inside occasionally as the Cats try to put their best players on the floor.
2. Louis Holmes 6-6 270 Jr. Scottsdale, Ariz (Scottsdale CC)
IF Holmes becomes eligible he will probably assume a starting role a few days into camp. Holmes is one of the biggest recruits in recent memory, but even if he plays to the best of his ability, he may not be able to live up to the hype that many have heaped upon him. Holmes is a massive, strong defensive end who runs like a linebacker. He's just an intimidating presence in person and can be even more scary when you see him motor. As of the publication of this story, Holmes was still finishing up a class but expected to be in camp by next week.
2. Jason Parker 6-3 258 Jr. San Diego, Calif. (Mission Bay)
Parker had a great spring camp. Overlooked among the ends, he's another tall, athletic end with decent size. He played in 11 games a year ago and had a sack among his seven tackles. If Holmes does not make it, Parker becomes a more important player in the defense.
3. Mike Shelton 6-3 230 So. Compton, Calif. (Dominguez)
Shelton was pressed into duty last year because of injuries to Smith and Copeland Bryan and that hurt his development a bit. Shelton is very fast but still needs to get stronger. He has a knack for getting to the passer as he two sacks in just seven games a year ago. If all goes well the Cats would love to redshirt him to further develop his body.
3. Ricky Elmore 6-4 235 Fr. Simi Valley, Calif. (Grace Brethren HS)
Elmore did not get a ton of recruiting hype in the recruiting process but the Wildcat coaches feel that they have a steal. He is seen as a solid pass rusher and was recruited to fill that need. He played at a small school but was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State small schools first-team defense as well as being a CIF Southern Section/AAF first-teamer, and CIF Division XI first-teamer.
4. D'aundre Reed 6-4 215 Fr. Moreno Valley, Calif. (Rancho Verde HS)
Reed is a very athletic defensive end who is also very raw. The team loves his speed and athleticism but know he needs to work on technique. He's got a great competitive side and is not afraid of a little hard work. He's a likely redshirt but could also be moved to linebacker down the line.
4. Braylon Broughton 6-6 240 Fr. Dallas, Texas (Hillcrest High)
Broughton may have more upside than any of the newcomers but at the time of this story he was still trying to get his paperwork in order to enroll. One Wildcat coach said that he has never seen a more impressive highlight tape from a defensive end than the one they got from the Texan. Down the line they envision Broughton as a big, fast end in the mold of Holmes.