Ryan Gorcey / Scout.com

Cal football releases spring depth chart, still no clarity at quarterback

It's 144 days until California kicks off against Hawaii in Sydney, Australia, but the Golden Bears have released their first depth chart.

Although California has not practiced with several of its presumptive starters for 2016 -- receiver Kanawai Noa and left guard Chris Borrayo among them -- and there are several newcomers who will make their way onto the roster in the fall, including possible starting center Jeremiah Stuckey, the Bears did release their spring depth chart on Tuesday afternoon.

The biggest takeaway? There isn't a true quarterback depth chart. They're listed in alphabetical order. 


So, moving right along, we take a look at the top four (healthy) receivers. At X, the starter as of now is Patrick Worstell, who has had a very good spring, but he's listed as an "or" with probably the most athletic receiver on the roster, in Brandon Singleton, and the still-not-100-percent Vic Wharton, with Justin Dunn and Noa listed after that trio.

At H, no surprise, it's Ray Hudson leading the pack, followed by newcomer Jordan Veasy -- one of the most competitive receivers that I've seen this spring -- and Jack Austin, who's moved inside since the end of last season. 

The starting left side of the offensive line is no surprise at all. Aaron Cochran has been, plainly speaking, dominant. He is the left tackle the Bears need, and the one they expected when he came in. Gone is the out-of-shape Frankenstein-on-roller-skates young tackle. He plays with great pad level and aggression, and he uses his great leverage at 6-foot-8 to its fullest effect.

Next at left tackle is Patrick Mekari (who's played both guard and center, and though he's not listed at either of those positions, he's essentially the No. 6 lineman, who can play every spot up front), and then Vince Johnson and Henry Bazakas, a redshirt freshman out of Berkeley High School.

Left guard is exactly as we've seen it, with Borrayo starting, and converted defensive tackle Chris Palmer next up. Palmer has played left guard during contact work, while Borrayo, still recovering from a surgery, has been working with the first-team line during non-contact situations.

Behind Borrayo and Palmer is J.D. Hinnant, who offensive line coach Brandon Jones said has made great leaps this past year.

Center is probably not the most well-defined position, as Mekari has been getting a lot of reps there, but the starter is Addison Ooms, followed by last year's starter Dominic GranadoRyan Gibson and Benji Palu, who had a phenomenal day on the boards during drills on Monday.

Right guard is a tight race between JuCo transfer Dwayne Wallace and Semisi Uluave. Uluave needs to start using his hands more against defensive linemen, and right now, that's where Wallace has the edge -- he's much more active with his upper body than Uluave is, but Uluave has such a great build (one that's gotten even better since last year) that he's making a race of things.

Injured Jake Curhan is listed at third right tackle, behind starter Steven Moore and Kamryn Bennett. Bennett has been moving between guard and tackle, so this offensive line depth chart is a bit deceptive, in that the No. 2s and No. 3s at certain spots are starters or No. 2s at other spots.

"It's a good thing that the incumbents aren't comfortable right now," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "Some young guys are biting at their heels, and the new guys are pushing them and making them better, and that makes our team better."

The running back slot isn't surprising at all, with Tre WatsonVic Enwere and Khalfani Muhammad as the top three, but Patrick Laird, who had a fantastic scrimmage, and has shown a lot of burst hitting holes and a toughness while finishing runs, is fourth, followed by converted receiver Alex Netherda (who played both receiver and running back in high school), and then converted safety Billy McCrary III, who's been very explosive this spring.

In what's no surprise at all, Melquise Stovall is listed as the starting Y receiver, followed by Greyson BankheadBug Rivera and the injured Matthew Rockett. Stovall is the most explosive athlete on the roster, and has shown very sticky hands and a great suddenness when presented with defenders in his way. Behind him, Bankhead has used his year as a greyshirt to get bigger and stronger, and it's shown. He's easily the most underrated receiver in this group. Bankhead didn't practice Monday after getting banged up in the scrimmage, but he's expected back this week.

The most experienced outside receiver -- Chad Hansen -- leads the pack at Z, followed by physical, sure-handed Carlos Strickland, newcomer Jordan Duncan -- who's looked the most consistent of the early enrollees over the last several practices, when other receivers have fallen off -- and then Austin Aaron. Lots of different skill sets here. Hansen obviously has speed, Duncan is a tough match-up for smaller corners, and is too fast for safeties and linebackers, while Strickland is a big-bodied red zone threat and Aaron is sneaky fast, but also has the ability to be a physical bully, given his size.


Defensive line coach Fred Tate said that Noah Westerfield fell way back last season, and he's had to make up some ground. He's done that so far this spring, and is listed as the No. 1 left defensive end. It's hard to think that  Cameron Saffle won't contend at that spot, as he did even last year as a true freshman. Russell Ude has made big strides since last season, and he's listed third, but I still think he winds up as a defensive tackle down the road, at 6-foot-3, 260 right now. Kennedy Emesibe has had a poor spring, and during one-on-ones on Monday, he was sent away from the group to stand in a corner after a particularly poor rep. He's got ground to make up.

The two starters at defensive tackle -- James Looney and Tony Mekari -- are not surprises at all, and neither are their backups -- Luc Bequette and Marcus Manley. Manley is as seasoned as any of the defensive linemen, and Bequette has been one of the most physical, aggressive and improved lineman across the board. He's arguably having the best spring of anyone up front.

Newcomer Russell Becker is third behind Mekari and Manley.

Last year's starter DeVante Wilson is a rock at right defensive end, and two redshirt freshmen -- Zeandae Johnson and Trevor Howard -- back him up.

There are three linebacker spots listed, but I don't think we'll be seeing a lot of that alignment. Aisea Tongilava is listed as the starting SAM, followed by still-injured Hamilton Anoa'i (who has not practiced at all this spring), and walk-ons Harrison Mayo and Joe Castignani.

At MIKE, Hardy Nickerson is listed first, followed by Devante Downs, then walk-ons David Ortega Jr. and Drew Bryant.

At WILL, as expected, Ray Davison is listed first, followed by Derron Brown, who's been a revelation at linebacker, rushing off the edge -- something Cal has not had in several years -- and is listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, after converting from safety. He's going to be a terror rushing the quarterback if he keeps on the trajectory he's currently traveling.

"He's probably made as many plays as anybody, for us, defensively," Dykes said. "He's a guy who's shown up a bunch. I think it's a good position for him. We haven't had a guy that's been a great blitzed at that position, and he's got a knack for blitzing and being able to defeat some running back block, and has been explosive to the quarterback. It's been a real pleasant surprise in that regard. He's a good athlete, and a guy who's developing all the time, and he's got to keep getting bigger and bigger ... He'll be big enough to be an every-down guy, especially with all the spread teams we're going to see."

Cal lists the nickel backs as Cameron Walker -- last year's starter -- followed by the defensive back who I think could potentially be the best of the bunch, Trey Turner. Don't be surprised if Turner winds up getting just as many reps as nominal starting defensive backs, particularly if Cal goes into dime. Turner doesn't show up a ton in practice, but in scrimmages, he's everywhere, just like Brown.

Though this depth chart comes out after Damariay Drew went down on Monday with an apparent knee injury, it still lists him as one of two starting safeties (backed up by Khari VanderbiltJacob Anderson and David Garner), with the other starting safety being the long-armed Evan Rambo, backed up by the still-red-jersey-clad duo of Jaylinn Hawkins and Griffin Piatt

At one cornerback slot, Antoine Albert -- who's been the most consistent corner this spring -- is listed as the stater, backed by Malik Psalms and Chibuzo Nwokocha. At the other, injured Darius Allensworth retains his starting spot, followed by Ashtyn Davis and A.J. Greathouse.

"I've been pleased with the freshman group from last year -- the freshman group of safeties, in particular, has been really good," Dykes said. "Malik just gets better and better all the time. Those guys are working, they're still learning, but they're long guys, they're athletic, and they're starting to get more comfortable with our scheme. The more comfortable they get, the more plays they're going to make."

Special Teams

Noah Beito is listed as the top kickoff man, followed by Matt Anderson and Franklyn Cervenka. Anderson and Beito are flipped for placekicking duties.

Over the last several practices, onomatopoetic punter Dylan Klumph has been spanking balls all over the yard, with a lot of hang time and distance, really coming into his own. He's listed as the top punter, followed by Beito and rugby player Harry Adolphus.

Punt returns are no surprise, with the speedy Wharton listed as the No. 1, and the athletic Hawins and Singleton as the Nos. 2 and 3.

The kick returners are listed in pairs: First, Watson and Muhammad, and second, Stovall and Hawkins.


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