BERKELEY — When Cal loses Zack Follett, Anthony Felder and Worrell Williams after the season, it will be losing not only a trio of senior linebackers who have combined for 726 career tackles and 241/2 sacks, but the heart and soul of the team.
The linebackers have become a focal point of the Bears because of their on-field production over the years, but they've also emerged as team leaders. Follett and Williams have become the mouthpiece for the Bears' travails, while Felder has earned his teammates' respect in more quiet fashion.
That's why the trio will be hard to replace. And leading the charge to replace them are junior Eddie Young and sophomore Mike Mohamed.
Young is the fourth starter in the Bears' 3-4 alignment, and Mohamed, although technically a backup, arguably gets more playing time than any other linebacker because he is the primary backup at all four positions. No other returning linebacker comes close to the experience Young and Mohamed have, and the Bears are depending on them to anchor the group next season.
"We're going to be a pretty young unit," said Mohamed, the team's second-leading tackler with 80. "We won't have too much experience but Eddie and me. I'll have to step up a little bit and be more vocal and be a leader to these guys."
Mohamed figures to join Young in the starting lineup next season. Cal is high on junior Devin Bishop, who saw limited time this season. Other candidates to get more playing time next season are freshmen Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt and sophomore Charles Johnson.
"We just have to fill those big shoes that we have to fill," Young said. "We have to hold the linebacking corps down and keep that as a strong point of our defense."
Mohamed and Young aren't necessarily as outspoken as Follett and Williams, but part of that may be because of the presence of Follett and Williams. The Bears will be losing several quality leaders after the season in Follett, Williams, center Alex Mack and fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou.
"They don't express themselves now that way because the other guys are doing it," Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said of Young and Mohamed. "To be a leader, you have to lead by example, and both of those guys do. They like football, they practice hard and they're never on the sideline in a yellow jersey (injured). No question, those two guys have a chance to be good leaders for us."
Cal reportedly has received oral commitments from offensive tackle Charles Siddoway of Eugene, Ore., and junior college fullback Sean Quinn. Siddoway is considered one of the nation's top offensive line prospects. ... Miami coach Randy Shannon has suspended tight ends Richard Gordon and Tervaris Johnson, along with linebacker Jordan Futch for the Emerald Bowl against Cal. None of the players saw much playing time. Starting quarterback Robert Marve was previously suspended for violating team rules. The game is Saturday at AT&T Park.
— Jonathan Okanes