If there were one position that Cal fans can point to and feel confident about the depth and production, it would probably be the defensive line. Lead by the always-enthusiastic DL Coach Tosh Lupoi and senior defensive end Cameron Jordan, the Bears feature a unit that is deep, experienced, and thoroughly talented.
But there is another name you should remember heading into the 2010 season Kendrick Payne.
The name is fitting.
Payne, a sophomore nose tackle out of Houston, measures in at 6-foot-2 and 299 lbs. As the 2009 season wore on, Payne became a bigger force with every game, culminating in three tackles – two for loss – in the Poinsettia Bowl against Utah.
Payne carried his play into the spring, being noted as one of the Bears most improved defenders among all positions. One week into fall camp, Payne has established himself not only to be a regular part of the rotation, but also to be an absolute force in the middle of Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast's 3-4 scheme.
But don't tell Payne that.
“Right now, nobody has any status,” says Payne. “We're all moving around. I'm playing on every package, every position.
“There's a lot more to learn [in Pendergast's system] as far trying to learn what the offense is doing, instead of just what [the defense] is doing. Just knowing different clues [will help us prepare for the season].”
Payne credits a lot of his improvement to Coach Tosh Lupoi and senior nose tackle Derrick Hill. Their mental approach to the game and attention to detail has helped Payne learn on what it means to be a successful defensive lineman in the conference.
“D-Hill is my brother,” says Payne. “I respect him a lot, and I respect him enough to go right after his spot. I remember being a freshman, thinking I was going to come in, with everybody working for themselves. But he really looked out for me and all the other [players], and taught us a lot. He's a team player, trying to help the freshman.”
As for coach?
“'Lup' is a soldier. I wouldn't have anybody else lead me out on the battlefield every Saturday. I feel like he definitely does his all to prepare us for the other team that we're competing up against, or even just going out day to day for practice. I appreciate him and I love him as my coach.”
Payne's future is bright. He still has three seasons of eligibility, which means more time to improve upon his game, get stronger, and get more experience in Coach Pendergast's 3-4 defense.
Oh, and he has more opportunities to inflict his name upon his opponents.
Practice News & Notes
Head Coach Jeff Tedford was satisfied with the first double day officially being in the books. Likewise, Tedford also was satisfied with the first week of camp being over. “The guys are working hard, we've been very physical. I'm pleased with the effort and enthusiasm. That's why we practice.”
Tedford said that junior running back Shane Vereen is “moving along” and that he is starting to increase his workload on a daily basis. Tedford is hopeful that Vereen will be able to see the practice field by Tuesday.
In related news to the running backs, sophomore Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson returned to action on the practice field on Saturday. Tedford hinted that, with the emergence of sophomore Isi Sofele and freshman Dasarte Yarnway, Deboskie-Johnson has some work to do to get back into the thick of things, but now has the opportunity to do so.
More players suffered injuries during the double day, including sophomore tight end Spencer Ladner (back), junior safety Sean Cattouse (hamstring), and Derrick Hill (knee).
Tedford also noted how pleased he has been with the play of sophomore fullback Eric Stevens, who has been taking reps with the first team in place of junior Will Kapp (concussion). “Versatile,” said Tedford. “He's a guy who can run, catch a ball in space... he's just a versatile football player.”
Tedford mentioned how pleased he has been with the development of the secondary, given the newfound speed of the wide receivers. “The speed of our receivers have been good for our DB's to work against,” said Tedford.
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