The utility player in football — an individual who can ply his trade across multiple positions and scenarios — is a coach’s dream and can add an unbelievable amount of depth and talent to any team.
Thirteen days into fall camp, Cal football’s defensive end Luc Bequette has adopted this utility role, seeing the majority of his practice reps at nose guard as sophomores Aaron Maldonado and Siu Fuimaono have remained away from camp for personal reasons.
Fortunately, defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter has a plethora of multifaceted athletes at his disposal, which is part of the reason why the defense’s national rank hasn’t faltered in the wake of these position changes.
“We’re planning on playing our first game with the guys who are practicing,” DeRuyter said. “We hope to get those guys back as soon as possible. But in football, you never know when there’s going to be an injury. We have a next-up mentality, and the guys that are repping, we expect them to play against UC Davis.”
Outside linebacker Kuony Deng and defensive end Tevin Paul are other notable pieces of this unit who have taken a majority of their reps out of position. As a former basketball player and proven pass disrupter, Deng epitomizes DeRuyter’s vision of a versatile player.
“He’s a really hungry football player,” DeRuyter said of Deng. “He’s got a really big upside, and the only thing is, we wish we could put some more weight on him because he’s still pretty thin. But he’s becoming more of a complete football player and can play a dual role for us.”
On the offensive side, redshirt junior quarterback Devon Modster was on the practice field Friday, but he did not participate in any offense-defense drills, wearing a headset on the sidelines while redshirt sophomore Chase Garbers, redshirt freshman Robby Rowell and freshman Spencer Brasch took reps on the field.
Questions have been raised over Modster’s eligibility for Cal’s first game against UC Davis on Aug. 31, although nothing has been confirmed.
Receivers Nikko Remigio and Jeremiah Hawkins have been the primary culprits of big plays that the offense has generated thus far in camp. As Cal’s new-look receivers core continues to seek out the long ball, the new-look defense has been ready to apply the pressure right back.
“We got our offense in a bunch of third-and-long situations,” DeRuyter said of recent live situations. “When you do that, you have a pretty good chance to have a good day. I just like the mentality of our guys, that they came to compete and set a standard and held themselves to that standard.”