Cal's highly regarded 2010 class of linebackers suffered a messy divorce, and as one of the principal characters, Cecil Whiteside was frustrated.
The Bears had the No. 2 class of incoming linebackers in 2010 according to rivals.com, but only two of the five prospects made it onto campus last fall. Five-star recruit Chris Martin transferred to Florida before training camp began, and Whiteside and Chris McCain ended up grayshirting to get their academics in order.
Whiteside wanted badly to keep the group together.
"That was one of the things I was most upset about," said Whiteside, who is now enrolled at Cal and participating in spring practice. "We all talked before we committed that this was going to be our class and by the time we are juniors and seniors we were going to be one of the top defenses. We wanted to all come in as a unit and feed off each other. It just wasn't our time. We can still do it, but it's going to take a little more time."
Actually, it might not take as long as Whiteside thinks. Martin is permanently gone, but with McCain also now in classes and officially on the team, four-fifths of that heralded linebacking class is now in Berkeley and could make an impact sooner rather than later.
Dave Wilkerson, who along with Nick Forbes arrived in Berkeley as expected last fall, was playing outside linebacker with the first-team defense before suffering a hip flexor last week. Whiteside is taking second-team reps at outside linebacker, and McCain was getting a look with the second and third teams on the outside before suffering a concussion last week. Forbes also has been rotating between the second and third teams at inside linebacker.
"When we're on the field together, we're all pretty hyped," Whiteside said. "It's a lot of fun."
All five came out of high school with lofty recruiting rankings, but with Martin gone, Whiteside is the headliner. Rivals.com ranked him the 38th-best overall player in the country coming out of Newport Harbor High.
Whiteside needed to complete some classes before getting eligible at Cal. He did so but after the deadline to attend the school's Summer Bridge program. The university doesn't allow athletes to compete if they don't attend Summer Bridge.
"I was really upset at the time," Whiteside said. "It was a humbling experience. You can't really take anything for granted."
"He's done great," Tedford said. "He has to keep getting better every day. He plays very fast. He's a very good tackler in the open field. When he brings it, he's not shy. He comes to hit you. He's going to be a very good player for us."