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2021 Fall Camp Kicks Off For Bears

August 6, 2021
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BERKELEY -On a picture perfect morning in the low 70s, at long last, the Bears kicked off a normal, non-restricted fall camp practice at Memorial Stadium Friday. 

“Oh man, it’s been a couple years since we’ve had a team meeting pre-practice, go through the practice schedule, break into position meetings pre-practice with the whole team out there. That was a really nice moment for everybody to go through that,” head coach Justin Wilcox said. “But after we acknowledged that, we got right to work.

“As you would expect, every first practice has great energy and enthusiasm. A lot of chatter and that’s a good thing.

“Even the veterans having a team meeting last night and the newcomers from last year, this was their first time around. You heard a lot of comments -the meals with the entire team -the things you’d normally have taken for granted two years ago.”

The field was full, with nearly the full roster practicing as full participants, including several who were injured and missed some or much of spring ball, such as TE Jermaine Terry, OT Brayden Rohme, DTs Stanley McKenzie, Rickey Correia and Aaron Maldonado, DEs Ethan Saunders and Jaedon Roberts and more. Wilcox confirmed that DE Brett Johnson, ILB frosh Kaleb Elarms-Orr and frosh OLB Patrick Hisatake have longer term lower body injuries and that sixth year OG Gentle Williams is a medical retirement.

The return of so many recently-injured players speaks highly of the staff’s ability to help players overcome injuries and get and stay healthy.

“Our sports med staff and strength and conditioning group did a really amazing job this offseason,” said Wilcox. “We were early spring ball, which gave us a lot of time post-spring ball to not only work out and train but also to get healthy. I think both those units did a great job working together. There’s still a few guys working their way back into it (including DBs Daniel Scott and Tyson McWilliams) but for the most part, we had most out there.

“Unfortunately, Gentle Williams is a medical retirement. We love Gentle. He’s been through a lot with the injury bug at Cal but he's just an awesome guy. We appreciate everything he’s done for the program. He’s a great leader on the team and he's a person that a lot of the younger guys look up to. So we'll miss him.”

Wilcox also noted that transfer QB Ryan Glover will be in camp in a few days and will be full-go. When asked about frosh QB Kai Millner, Wilcox noted that he's been studying hard and has shown talent since arriving on campus. Millner and backup center Bastian Swinney struggled a bit on snaps under center, though Millner did have a couple nice completions during 7-on-7s. Wilcox noted that the first week is very install-heavy so the importance of the players being dialed in and focused is at the forefront.

Seventh-year defensive lineman Luc Bequette, who’s back at school and enrolled in one of their new credential programs, was on the field in full participation. Wilcox said he did not expect any problems with NCAA regarding Bequette’s eligibility. He transferred to Boston College and played there last season. BC is helping Cal in the process. Bequette is one of nine “super seniors” back for an extra year of eligibility with last year’s covid-limited season not counting against their eligibility.

“You could really see the joy on their faces last night when we came in for the first meeting,” said Wilcox said of the veteran players who made their return. “I think Luc’s older than half you guys.”

Senior receiver Nikko Remigio was asked if it felt extra special to return to a normal routine after a year and a half of disruptions on and off the field.

“I think for everybody across college football, but especially us at Cal, Covid really kept us from being able to do what we needed to do, even down to the little things like bonding and camaraderie,” said Remigio. “We really didn’t have many opportunities to build on that and develop that so to be back in the meeting rooms and the training rooms and the cafeteria together, being able to meet all the new faces and just rekindling a lot of the old relationships is just an awesome feeling. That’s what the sport of football is really about and that big team dynamic is what we live for.

“Just walking into the locker room, I was greeted at my locker by a bunch of offensive linemen and they were all in crop top t-shirts. That was a highlight, just walking in. You could really feel the energy, everyone in there talking, building relationships. It was an awesome feeling.”

Remigio likes what he sees in the young receivers so far.

“They’re really developed for incoming freshman, I think a lot more developed when I got here,“ said Remigio. “Just from the little bit I've seen of them, they have a lot to offer to the program and Cals fans have a lot to look forward to with those two.”

Ditto with early entry frosh tight end Jermaine Terry, who rebounded from an ankle injury in the spring game to have a solid practice, including laying out for a ball near the sideline and hauling it in.

Cal's offense never really had a chance to get untracked last season with only four games and very limited spring practice, a disrupted fall camp and lots of extended offensive and defensive line absences due to covid. 

“It's night and day," said Remigio of the difference between then and now. “We took a really conservative approach to the offense last year. We did not even tap into even half of the playbook. This year, we dove headfirst in. I think that’s a tribute to the amount of older guys we have on the team and on the offense and we're able to really expand the offense. The nuance, conversions, Chase having a bit more authority back there on what he wants to run. Just having a full offseason to rep the offense and just being able to grasp and hone in on those little details I think has made a huge difference. Even today, we were able to do a lot of the conversions and audibles we weren't able to do last year. Really having a lot of time to develop and perfect everything has helped.”

Remigio noted that the transition to new strength and conditioning coach Brian Johnson and staff has been a smooth one so far.

“I really like the staff that Coach Johnson has put together," said Remigio. “The strength and conditioning staff has really put together workouts that develop our strength and conditioning but the difference with this staff is the corrective type stuff and the mobility stuff. They really get with you individually and hone in on the little things. If you have hip issues or shoulder issues, they'll get with you after every single lift and every single run and try and do some type of corrective stuff to fix that. And I think that translates when we go out there and play.”

The Bears will be back on the field Saturday morning at 9:30. The practice will be open to the public, as well.

Other stories:

Tonges Leads Talented Group of Tight Ends

Bear Insider Ultimate Insider Podcast With Mike Pawlawski -Episode 1

Discussion from...

2021 Fall Camp Kicks Off For Bears

2,774 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by UrsineMaximus
Nasal Mucus Goldenbear
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AunBear89
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Rushinbear
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Did I see the name Gabe Cherry dropped somewhere?
UrsineMaximus
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Rushinbear said:

Did I see the name Gabe Cherry dropped somewhere?
Transfer portal reports he stayed at Cal and IIRC another publication confirmed that. Although, I'm not sure that I see him on the roster (perhaps it hasn't been updated, dunno).
BearGreg
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Staff
UrsineMaximus said:

Rushinbear said:

Did I see the name Gabe Cherry dropped somewhere?
Transfer portal reports he stayed at Cal and IIRC another publication confirmed that. Although, I'm not sure that I see him on the roster (perhaps it hasn't been updated, dunno).
Gabe is no longer with the team. There was some confusion as his name was on a locker in a photo taken earlier this Summer before the locker names had been updated.
Rushinbear
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BearGreg said:

UrsineMaximus said:

Rushinbear said:

Did I see the name Gabe Cherry dropped somewhere?
Transfer portal reports he stayed at Cal and IIRC another publication confirmed that. Although, I'm not sure that I see him on the roster (perhaps it hasn't been updated, dunno).
Gabe is no longer with the team. There was some confusion as his name was on a locker in a photo taken earlier this Summer before the locker names had been updated.
Thought it had been something like that. Would have heard about him before now, if he had somehow reentered.
UrsineMaximus
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BearGreg said:

UrsineMaximus said:

Rushinbear said:

Did I see the name Gabe Cherry dropped somewhere?
Transfer portal reports he stayed at Cal and IIRC another publication confirmed that. Although, I'm not sure that I see him on the roster (perhaps it hasn't been updated, dunno).
Gabe is no longer with the team. There was some confusion as his name was on a locker in a photo taken earlier this Summer before the locker names had been updated.
Thanks for confirming. Too bad he's no longer with the team, it would have been good for the younger players to have an additional veteran around.
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