With California safety Stefan McClure graduating and signing with the Indianapolis Colts, and safety Damariay Drew going down with a knee injury this spring, the Golden Bears' secondary had gotten even thinner than last season, but, as a team source told BearTerritory, that situation has become even more precarious, as veteran safety Griffin Piatt has elected to medically retire.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder had come in to Berkeley as a walk-on wide receiver, but injured his knee early in 2013. He then turned into a starting safety in the wake of 2013 injuries and departures. The Moraga (Calif.) Campolindo product had three interceptions in the first six games of the 2014 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury, tearing his ACL against Washington.
Piatt played in seven games -- missing the first four, and the final two -- of the 2015 season, recording one interception. After offseason knee surgery, Piatt was in a red no-contact jersey for much of spring football, and did not participate in any meaningful way with the defense in full-contact work.
With Piatt and Drew -- anticipated to be the two starting safeties this season -- now injured, the middle of the Cal defense is in flux.
Quarterback-turned safety-turned quarterback-turned safety again Luke Rubenzer moved back to safety this spring after trying his hand at the quarterback competition. He had 43 tackles, 2 interceptions and one breakup last season.
With Derron Brown -- who played safety last season -- moving to linebacker, the only other scholarship defensive backs left with game experience are Evan Rambo and Khari Vanderbilt. Freshman Jaylinn Hawkins was listed as the No. 2 behind Rambo in the spring depth chart, with the still-not-100% Piatt listed third. Vanderbilt was listed as the No. 2 behind Drew at the other safety spot.
Rambo played in 11 games, with eight tackles. Vanderbilt played in 11 games with 17 tackles, and 0.5 tackle for loss. Hawkins missed all but one game last season with a shoulder injury, recording a single pass breakup against Grambling State.
Quentin Tartabull is listed as a nickel back, but should be able to slide back over to safety. Tartabull has had his injury troubles, as well, missing all of last year, but should be healthy come fall camp.
JuCo defensive back Marloshawn Franklin was supposed to come in the spring, but had to take care of a class at Mesa Community College in Arizona, so didn't arrive on campus until the summer. At 6-foot-1, 185, he can play either corner, or safety.
One-time Stanford commit Nygel Edmonds can also answer the bell at safety, and has speed to burn with a 4.45-second 40 time. He plays big receivers very well, and excels when playing off. He's not great at any one thing, but he's very good at a lot of things, a very technically sound defender with a nose for the ball.