BERKELEY -- California kicked off spring practice on Monday without one of the would-be anchors of the defensive line in Brennan Scarlett, who has graduated, and is going to be playing next year at another program. The defensive end is likely headed for Stanford, sources say, to join up with his younger brother Cameron Scarlett -- a soon-to-be freshman running back for the Cardinal.
“Gone,” said head coach Sonny Dykes. “DeVante Wilson’s here. We kind of thought that might be a possibility, and that’s why we took him.”
As for Scarlett staying in conference, Dykes said, “Don’t know anything about it. Don’t care. Don’t know.”
[MESSAGE BOARDS: More from Day One of Spring Practice]
Also gone is safety Avery Sebastian -- who will continue his career at Notre Dame – and in his place, wearing the No. 4, was Derron Brown, who looked to be one of the more stout defensive backs in a group that will grow by five to six players once fall rolls around, thanks to the new recruiting class.
Also in the mix at safety is Luke Rubenzer. The sophomore – who spent last season as backup quarterback – flipped sides of the ball, at his request.
“I just felt like I could help them on that side of the ball more, this year, than I could on offense,” Rubenzer said. “It’s not necessarily a 100 percent permanent thing, but for this year, I’ll give it a shot, and if I can help them, then I’ll help them. I’m just trying to find a way on the field and get some stuff done and find ways to win.”
Rubenzer played safety in high school, and was quite the hitter, but the college game is a bit different.
“It’s familiar,” Rubenzer said. “Obviously, high school defenses are not so complex, but cover-6 is cover-6, cover-8 is cover-8, cover-4 is cover-4, so the coverage is there, it’s just putting the verbiage to the stuff I already know. Then, there’s a lot more blitzes and more rotational things. A coverage is a coverage, so it’s how you run it, how the coaches want you to run it here.”
After the season, Rubenzer went out with teammates and ran routes and got into his backpedal to knock the rust off, just to stay in shape.
“Ultimately, it was just to get faster,” Rubenzer said. “I didn’t know what I was going to be doing, come spring, whether it was playing defense or playing some slot or playing quarterback or running back. Whatever it was, I just wanted to be fast. I felt like getting some work at backpedaling and flipping my hips would help me get faster, whether I was playing defense or offense.”
The staff – which recently scored a commitment from four-star-to-be Armani Rogers and brought Ross Bowers in early (“He looked composed for his first time out,” Dykes said) -- now has quite a deep depth chart at quarterback, with a much-improved Chase Forrest taking second-team snaps, so a redshirt option was discussed with Rubenzer.
“They brought up maybe redshirting next year, and, ultimately, at the end of the day, I just wanted to play,” Rubenzer said. “I think it would be really hard to do that after playing as much as I did last year. I just think it would be really hard to sit out a year, so I said I wanted to play, and coach [Tony] Franklin said that coach [Art] Kaufman wanted me at least to try defense for a little while, so that was the route we took.”
More to come from Monday’s practice later on Tuesday.