Wilkerson feeling and playing better inside

A position change and new fitness routine have reenergized redshirt sophomore linebacker David Wilkerson.

BERKELEY, Calif. – The sight of a hulking 6-foot-2, 230-pound young man with long hair and a unkempt beard walking into a yoga studio would cause heads to turn in most places.

Not in Berkeley, not when California linebacker David Wilkerson steps through the door.

"There are a couple yoga places down on Telegraph," he said. "Really anytime I can get to yoga classes I do it."

The redshirt sophomore turned to yoga and Pilates this summer at the suggestion of strength and conditioning coach Mike Blasquez, looking for ways to avoid the kinds of nagging injuries that all but kept Wilkerson out of spring practice.

Combined with improved eating habits, the approach seems to be working for Wilkerson, a product of nearby Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista. In the first week of fall camp, he worked as a starter at inside linebacker next to redshirt senior Robert Mullins as the Bears look to fill vacancies at both spots.

Even though Wilkerson started in three games and appeared in seven others last season playing outside, making 5.5 tackles for loss with four sacks, he pushed for and welcomed the move.

"I definitely really wanted to come back and play middle because it felt more natural. Just been playing it my whole life," Wilkerson said. "Yeah, it's a 3-4 and I'm more used to playing a 4-3, but it feels the same."

Wilkerson believes he will be more productive there, both for Cal and his own future. But after playing both positions, it also would give the team greater flexibility. For example, Wilkerson could replace projected starters Brennan Scarlett or Chris McCain on the road when travel rosters are limited.

It gives an already-overloaded position group just one more option to consider. When asked which linebackers are standing out, Wilkerson named almost everyone.

"We got Nick Forbes, we got Jalen (Jefferson)," he said. "We got Hardy Nickerson stepping up. We got little Bart (Michael Barton) from De La Salle stepping up.

"We got depth everywhere at linebacker this year, outside and inside. We'll be good whether someone goes down for one week, two weeks, whatever, at any position."

Not that Wilkerson will need to be replaced if his new fitness routine continues to be so effective.

Harper, Treggs Make Their Move
Bryce Treggs arrived on campus as the next big thing, the five-star centerpiece of Cal's 2012 signing class. Chris Harper was something of an afterthought, a solid three-star recruit ranked No. 81 nationally at his position.

But after one week, the two freshmen that arrived with entirely different expectations find themselves in the same position.

"Those two have a step up right now. It would be fair to say they'll be in the rotation," head coach Jeff Tedford said Monday.

The Bears need at least two of their five newcomers to play immediately, with Harper and Treggs answering the challenge so far.

"They are very talented. They run really well, they catch the ball really well," Tedford said. "They still have to continue to learn what they are doing and the speed of the game, but I think with each day that we practice they are more comfortable with the speed of the game and the understanding of what we are trying to get done."

Bears Beaten Up
With injuries beginning to accumulate after five days in pads, seven practices total in that span, Cal will work only in helmets Tuesday ahead of its first scrimmage. Tedford had already backed off in the late workout Monday.

Among the players that did not participate were wide receiver Maurice Harris (sore knee) and tight ends Richard Rodgers (shoulder) and Spencer Hagan.

Hagan will play Wednesday "for sure," Tedford said. He was less firm on Rodgers' status.

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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