Dave Wilkerson wants to carry the torch for Cal's fractured incoming linebacker class. It looks like he'll be carrying it sooner rather than later.
He's one of only two linebackers left in training camp out of the five who signed in February. Coach Jeff Tedford has already said Wilkerson will not redshirt and will be in the playing rotation this season.
"He's physical," Tedford said. "High school kids, when they come in, mentally, physically and emotionally have to be ready to play. The physical part of it is definitely there for him. He can do a lot of things, on special teams and on defense."
Wilkerson was rated as one of the top 10 inside linebackers in the country coming out of Monte Vista High. He was supposed to be joined at Cal by Chris Martin and Cecil Whiteside. Martin was rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the nation by scout.com but transferred to Florida before camp began. Whiteside was ranked the No. 10 outside linebacker by ESPN but is grayshirting, meaning he won't enroll at Cal until the spring.
Another recruit, Chris McCain, also is grayshirting.
"It's annoying," Wilkerson said. "We were coming in, we all talked to each other and were excited about it. We were ready to go. Everything just kind of went downhill. You can't let that faze you. You just have to play."
Wilkerson and Nick Forbes, rated the No. 2 inside linebacker nationally by rivals.com, are the only two linebackers from the class of 2010 in camp. Forbes has a good chance to play this season, as well.
Although recruited as an inside linebacker, Wilkerson has been moved outside because the Bears are thin at that position.
"The depth at the outside backer wasn't great," Tedford said. "When you look at the guys we had available to go out there, he was the best fit. He'll play outside and maybe later on in his career move inside. But right now, that's the fastest way to get him on the field."