AN EARLY DEPTH CHART - DEFENSIVE BACKSCal will be reshuffling the cards in its secondary this off-season. Fortunately, there's a lot to work with, and for the most part decisions are being made from a position of strength. The rumored move - of Thomas DeCoud to corner - is driven by the emergence of Bernard Hicks and Brandon Hampton more than any weakness on the corner. The Bears lose Lott Award winner Daymeion Hughes, but return a unit that overall should be as strong as the one in '06.
CB: Syd'Quan Thompson (Sophomore)/Darian Hagan (RS Freshman)
Others: Brandon Jones (Sophomore)
Has any Cal player made more improvement during a season than SQT? Great games against SC and Stanford, a deserving freshman AA. Hagan will compete with Peele to be the fifth DB; he was one of two top recruits last year and could press for starting time elsewhere. Jones was highly regarded out of high school; a pretty good third guy.
CB: Thomas DeCoud (Senior)/Robert Peele (Sophomore)
Others: Charles Amadi (RS Freshman)
Scuttlebutt is that DeCoud will switch here unless Peele makes a big leap in '07. He's tall and great in run support, but we worry a bit about position changes, especially to corner. Peele looked a lost at times this year, but should improve with experience. He saw quite a bit of the field this year, which shows that coach Littlejohn likes his game. Jones was highly regarded out of high school; a pretty good third guy.
ROV: Brandon Hampton (Senior)/Marcus Ezeff (Sophomore)
Others: Brett Johnson (Sophomore)
Another returning starter, Hampton had 58 tackles and two picks in '06. Not bad for a walk-on running back. Ezeff is a nice #2, a super special teams player and good tackler.
FS: Bernard Hicks (Junior)/DeCoud
Others: Gary Doxy (Sophomore)
Hicks started the last nine games of the season and played pretty well. He seems to have pretty good ball instincts, though he could use some work in the run game - too many times he goes for a knockout and doesn't wrap up. We're guessing that Doxy fits in as a depth guy here, but who knows.
Summary: No unit is less settled than the Cal secondary, which is actually not a bad thing. Cal returns lots of talent and experience, and some of it is interchangeable, allowing Tedford, Gregory and Littlejohn the flexibility to adapt to different situations (schemes, injuries, etc). This unit could further be shook up depending on whether Cal lands any one of three outstanding recruits - JC safety Terry Mixon, JC corner Chaz Thompson, and HS corner Donovan Warren.