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Cal Football

Meet the New Cal Football Position Coaches

February 9, 2020

In addition to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, Cal has added three other position coaches to its football staff.:, runnings back coach Aristotle Thompson (above) offensive line coach Angus McClure and defensive backfield coach Marcel Yates Here is an up-close look at each one.

Thompson, 41, is a 2001 graduate of Boise State, where he also began his coaching career alongside Justin Wilcox. The two were on the Boise coaching staff again in 2007-2008. Thompson comes to Cal after 11 years as running backs coach at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

“Cal is a special place, the top public university in the country,” Thompson said. “And where the football program going under Coach Wilcox was intriguing. Cal has always had a history of good runners in the program. To have an opportunity to grow this program and help these guys be what they aspire to be is exciting.”

Thompson is actually switching jobs with Nicolas Edwards, who coached the Cal running backs last year. Edwards left Cal to join former Bears offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who took the head coach job at Cal Poly. Thompson left San Luis Obispo for Berkeley.

“I did talk to him,” Thompson said. “I have known Coach Edwards for a while. We have built up a relationship over the years.”

It is timing,” he said of the unusual  switcheroo. “Timing is everything. You never know if an opportunity like Cal is going to come open for you. But if you continue to be the best you can where you are at, then good things are going to happen for you. I am going to own it where I am and I am not looking around to see what else is out there.”

Cal Poly employed an option offense, which is different from what Musgrave will be running at Berkeley. Thompson doesn’t believe he will have any difficulty meshing his coaching style with Musgrave’s system,.

“When you really look at it, football is football,” Thompson said. “When you understand what power is regarding your running game, whether you are running an option-based scheme, whether you are running the West Coast offense whatever it may be. You understand what power is and you are going to teach it.

“I look at myself as a football coach and a running back coach, not as an option coach. I never recruited players to play in the option. I recruited the best running backs I could get to our program. And taught them how to perform in the option.”

And he walks into a group that he seems to like. “It is a really good group of guys. I am really excited about seeing them on the field, I am just getting to know them, build relationships with them. I am just learning how they do things You have great guys in Chris Brown, DeShawn Collins, Carlos Brooks, Marcel Dancy, just a number of great performers and they carry themselves in a good manner. 

“When you walk into a group that has a combined GPA of 3.0 things are going good already. Not a lot of issues there, knock on wood, as long as I don’t mess that up. It’s a great group of guys, watching them on tape they're a lot of fun. I am excited to help them grow, help them be what this team is going to be, what this university is going to be.”

Brown, who led the Bears with 914 yards in 2019, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, including a superb night in the Redbox Bowl against Illinois with 120 yards, has certainly caught his new coach’s attention. 

Thompson will take “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with Brown, although he did say he will encourage Brown to be a little more physical, something along the lines of ‘You're a big-body running back, so if you get those little corners that are coming at you, it's OK to make them pay a little bit.’

A four-year letterman as a running back at Boise, Thompson helped the Broncos to bowl victories in his last twp years.

McCllure 51, is a 24-year veteran of college coaching, including 11 at UCLA (2007-17) and the last two at Nevada. He replaces Steve Greatwood, who retired.

Although happy at Nevada, the Bay Area native jumped at the chance when the Cal position came open. “I am super impressed with Coach Wilcox,” McClure said. “I have known him through the years. I have coached against him, I have recruited against him. When the opportunity came open, we had some great conversations and I’m here today. I really like the direction of the Cal program. I have always watched the program closely even when I was down at UCLA. I always kept my eye on Cal.”

In some ways, McClure is coming full-circle. His first collegiate allegiance was to the Bears.”I grew up in San Rafael. My dad went to USF so we were Cal fans for football,” he said. “I grew up coming to games here. We would sit in the family section in the end zone. We had some great times. I’ve always been a Cal fan and I’m just real excited to be back here.”

Except for a year at Buffalo and two at Nebraska, McClure’s work has been done in the Far West. He had two stints at Nevada (2006 and 2018-19), seven years at his alma mater Sacramento State (1997-2003) and the 11 at UCLA. He is therefore familiar with the Northern California area where he will ply his considerable recruiting skills. 

“I have been fortunate to stay in the West,” he said, “I have recruited in the West and I have coached a lot of the high school and junior college coaches in the area. I have a lot of connections in recruiting NorCal and the Bay Area.”

In fact, McClure is being reunited with several players who resisted his entreaties from Nevada and chose Cal. “I recruited a lot of guys who are here at Cal and it’s nice to be reunited with them,” he said.

Besides familiar faces, McClure sees ability.”I have been watching a lot of film with Justin and BIll and the coaches of the last few games. I have been meeting with them individually,” McClure said. “I have been talking with them. It’s been great I am excited to work with this group.

"I'm impressed. They got a lot of great experience last year, they won a lot of big games, I really like their effort. I've been watching a lot of the winter workouts in the morning and they're working hard. They seem very dedicated.I'm very excited about this spring. I think the spring is going to be huge for the offensive line."

McClure has specific attributes he looks for in his charges. “I start from the bottom up,” he said. “I am going to look at feet,. I am going to look at ankle flexion I am going ti look at shin angles, I am going to look at knees and hips ... And then I want to make sure of flexibility.

A good athlete in any sport has great change of direction, great balance, and they don’t bend at the waist.” 

After lettering in four sports (football, baseball, basketball, and boxing) at San Rafael High, McClure was a four-time football letterman as a lineman at Sac State. He helped the Hornets advance to the NCAA Divison II national semifinals in 1988.

Yates, 44, is a 19-year coaching veteran. He spent the last three and half seasons as defensive coordinator at Arizona before he was abruptly fired in October by coach Kevin Sumlin. Prior to his time in Tucson, Yates coached two tenures at his alma mater Boise State (2014-15 and 2003-11), two years at Texas A&M (2012-13), and two at Montana State (2001-02).

When he was let go at Arizona, the Wildcats’ defense ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in total defense and 12th in points allowed.

That does not seem to matter to Wilcox. “The staffs he has coached on have won a lot of games,,” Wilcox, who was Boise State’s defensive coordinator from 2006-09) said when Yates was hired. “And Marcel has a tremendous skill set as a coach, teacher, and top recruiter."

Yates, who worked with Sumlin at Texas A&M, was one of two assistants retained when Sumlin took the UofA job last year. He says that despite his unit’s struggles, he did not see the firing coming, but he is dealing with it as one of the downsides of his chosen profession.

“Coach Sumlin wanted to take the defense in another direction,” Yates said. “He made his decision. You don’t harp on it, you learn from it. You move on to the next job and try to do better. That’s in the past. The rearview mirror.”

What lies ahead is working with a relatively experienced collection of DBs

“I think as a group, they seem eager to learn,” Yates said. “They do things right in the classroom. They do things right on the field. I watched them on the field the other day in the morning and I loved the way they worked.

“Talent-wise it is a good-looking group. I have been able to watch film on them. Cam Bynum, Elijah HIcks, Daniel Scott, those are guys I have been able to get a good look at.”

Yates’ defenses have always been known for their ability to generate takeaways. He obviously does not want his DBs to be passive, but the style of play will vary. “It kind of depends on the defense that is called,” he said. “You can play off-man, you can play press or more of a Cover-2 or Cover-3 scheme. It kind of depends on the defense that is called. But  I have done it all, I have played it all I can coach it all.”

A four-year letterman at Boise, Yates received the team’s Denny Erickson Award for Valor following his senior season.

Because of his previous association with Wilcox, Yates had been paying attention to the Bears since the head coach arrived three years ago. So when the offer to join the staff came, he was ready. 

 “I have been watching Cal ever since Coach Wilcox came,” Yates said. “So when there was an opening I was excited to be here, be part of it. I am just learning the campus, I know the basics. I coached against Cal in this stadium. It is a good atmosphere, of course, we won the game so that made it better.”



Offensive Coordinator Musgrave Will Make Changes








Discussion from...

Meet the New Cal Football Position Coaches

5,259 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by dbush518
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Welcome, AT! Good decision coming here, he will add a lot of value. Like the idea of Brown punishing some corners. Will see a lot of that this year. Exciting times!
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When you walk into a group that has a combined GPA of 3.0...
I hope he meant average or minimum? :-)
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bluehenbear said:


When you walk into a group that has a combined GPA of 3.0...
I hope he meant average or minimum? :-)
Not to make too fine a point but the A in GPA stands for average.
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