California will not have the services of outside linebacker Michael Barton next season, as the redshirt junior has elected to go elsewhere as a graduate transfer. That, coupled with the loss to graduation of fellow veteran Jalen Jefferson, puts a lot on the shoulders of Hardy Nickerson (reigning team defensive MVP), Ray Davison (26 tackles this season), Aisea Tongilava (hurt for the entire season), Hamilton Anoa'i (five tackles in seven games), Jake Kearney (17 tackles in nine games) and Devante Downs, as well as linebacker commit Cameron Goode. It's also possible that senior Nathan Broussard will return for a sixth year.
Beyond those athletes, Cal also has David Ortega Jr., son of Cal's all-time tackles leader and Cal Athletic Hall of Fame member. Ortega, Jr., earned second-team All-East Bay and All-East Bay Athletic League honors as well as honorable mention All-Bay Area and Scholar-Athlete recognition as a 2013 prep senior when he had 104 tackles, three interceptions that he returned 75 yards, 2.0 sacks and two pass breakups for a 14-1 Concord (Calif.) De La Salle team.
Also in the wings is walk-on Harrison Mayo, out of Pleasanton (Calif.) Amador Valley, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder with a lot of athletic upside.
Barton missed the final two games of the regular season, and will miss the bowl game with injury. He tallied 25 tackles, after registerring 80 last season, and 63 the year before.
"We support Michael, and are proud of the hard work and dedication he has put in at Cal, both on the field and in the classroom in order to be on track to graduate from Cal next May," Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement late Wednesday night. "We wish him the best of luck and look forward to watching him continue his academic and athletic career."
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