Familiar Face Returns to Practice for Cal

BERKELEY -- With fall camp now formally over, Cal splits into scout teams and adds some familiar names missing from the camp roster ...



BERKELEY -- With the first day of classes upon the California football team, the Bears split into scout team and active offense and defense for the first time on Wednesday.

“Usually, the first day, when you split up and go scouts, it’s a little bit rough around the edges,” said head coach Sonny Dykes. “I thought today was actually really good. I thought our guys were really focused. You could tell that they upped the intensity a little bit today, which we needed to do, getting into game prep. I thought, mentally, we were really good. The intensity was there, the pads were popping, guys were working hard, and we got a lot of work done.”

Wednesday saw the return of several names missing during fall camp, including defensive tackle Trevor Kelly.

The 6-foot, 300-pound senior had missed all of fall camp dealing with a personal issue, but worked with the defense on Wednesday.

“Good, it was good to see him back,” Dykes said. “I thought he looked fine. He’s a little bit rusty. The good thing is, his conditioning’s good, and it’s good to see him back out there.”

Once Kelly can shake off the rust, he’s going to be a big contributor on the defensive line, behind James Looney and Mustafa Jalil. Last season, Kelly racked up 21 tackles – third most by a defensive lineman on the team – and played in all 12 games with two starts.

Also back in action was redshirt freshman wide receiver Erik Brown, who missed fall camp while getting academics in order. He’s switched jerseys from No. 11 to No. 13. He’s got a lot of ground to make up, as a duo of freshman wide outs have made big moves up the depth chart -- Kanawai Noa and Brandon Singleton.

“He’s got some catching up to do,” said Dykes, who coaches wide receivers in addition to his head coaching duties. “Any time you miss 20 practices, you’re behind. That’s an entire spring practice and five practices, so he’s got some catching up to do, but he’s got a great attitude. He knows he’s got to catch up, and I thought he made the most of his reps today, and he’s got to keep improving.”

Singleton, Noa and Malik McMorris worked with the offense against the scout team, but some of their fellow freshmen – including all of the freshman defensive linemen -- have moved to the scout teams, though Dykes said those decisions are in no way permanent.

“That’s just what we have right now. I tell those guys all the time that they’re a sprained ankle away from being backups, so they’ve got to do a lot of work,” Dykes said. “They’ve got to come out here and service the starting defense and the starting offense, but they’ve also got to make sure that they’re up to breast on what we’re doing with the game plan and getting their work done. We work our guys on the scout team quite a bit. We get them a lot of reps in skelly and a lot of reps in one-on-one, a lot of competitive drills they can improve in. It’s a good opportunity to get some of those guys better and make a move, and hopefully, move up on the depth chart.”

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Safety Quentin Tartabull, who tore his ACL almost exactly a year ago, was not in fall camp, but did hit the field with the scout team defense on Wednesday, sans his bushy rehab beard.

“He’s a little behind in his rehab,” Dykes said. “His rehab is probably a little further behind than we wish it was at this point, but I think he’s stronger than he has been, and is feeling better. We’ll bring him along slowly. You don’t want to try and do too much. We’d like to see him start getting back in the mix, getting stronger, and we’ll see what he can do at that point.”

Safety Griffin Piatt -- who scored three picks in his first three games last season, but went down with a torn ACL while tackling Washington’s Cyler Miles – is also a bit further away than fellow knee injury veteran Stefan McClure -- who’s practiced with very little restraint over the last week.

“They said that they put him through some testing today, and he responded really well,” Dykes said of Piatt. “We just kind of wanted to see where he was at, and as of right now, it’s about building confidence. He’s had a revision – it’s his second ACL in that knee – so those, you’ve got to be extra careful with.”

Dykes said that Piatt will “probably not” be available for the first week against Grambling State.

•••••

Freshman defensive end Trevor Howard hit the field for the first time, but in a red jersey. It’s likely that he will redshirt after injuring his knee in the second game of his senior season for Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian. He was not in fall camp, and will likely redshirt.

“Yeah, I would think that would be our plan right now for him,” Dykes said. “Some of the guys’ rehabs go as planned. He’s probably a little bit behind in his rehab, and that’s why he didn’t report to camp. He was just a little behind when he reported, and couldn’t do much, so we substituted for him in camp. He’s gotten much stronger, with more stability and more confidence in his knee. He’s a little bit like Tartabull – he’s got some catching up to do.”

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