Brock Mansion found out last year that you go can from the backup quarterback to the starting quarterback in a hurry. That knowledge has helped ease the pain of not earning the starting job for the 2011 season.
Mansion started the final four games of last season after Kevin Riley went down with a leg injury. Mansion was ineffective, completing just 47 percent of his passes, throwing for an average of only 126.3 yards per game and tossing five interceptions with two touchdowns. The game experience wasn't enough for him to beat out junior transfer Zach Maynard in the spring. Mansion is now battling sophomore Allan Bridgford for the backup job.
"I'm not going to stop competing," Mansion said. "I'm going to get better every day just like we are all trying to do. When I look back at what I got from last year, it would be just to keep pushing, keep plugging. Everybody plays a critical role."
Mansion was a highly regarded high school prospect coming out of Dallas in 2007 but had to wait behind Nate Longshore and Riley before finally getting an opportunity last season. He's now a fifth-year senior and faces the prospect of possibly ending his career on a rather quiet note.
"I've always been a big team player and I understand you have to do what's best for the team," Mansion said. "It's hard but you start looking at the big picture. We all want to be that guy. But if my role right now is to help make sure (Maynard) is prepared every week, then that's what I'm going to do."
With the 2011 season just three weeks away, McCain is poised to make the biggest impact of any of them.
McCain has been the star of training camp, using his combination of length and athleticism to be a force in Cal's defensive front.
McCain has been getting his share of first-team reps and could wind up as one of the Bears' starting outside linebackers when the season begind on Sept. 3 against Fresno State.
"Everybody can take it how they want to. I never let other stuff outside of football and class get to me," McCain said. "I just brush that stuff off. Everybody looked at me as being too skinny, but right now I'm running with the (first team)."
At 6-foot-6 and 213 pounds, McCain could stand to bulk up, but his build hasn't prevented him from making play after play so far during camp. He grayshirted last fall but enrolled in school in January and went through spring drills with the Bears.
"He's really rangy and he can run," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He knows what he's doing. He's going to play."
Wilkerson is projected to start at Cal's other outside linebacker spot.