August 10, 1998
BERKELEY, Calif. - Just a few days away from the start of fall camp in Turlock, Cal's offensive staff has revamped its plans along the offensive line due to a decision by senior offensive guard Yauger Williams to retire from football due to a chronic knee problem.
Williams, a 6-6, 300-pounder from Tacoma, WA, started seven games last season while battling knee problems. He sat out spring drills this past April following surgery on his knee, but was expected to contend for starting duties for the Bears this fall. He made the decision to retire last week after his knee did not respond to off-season weight-training and conditioning efforts.
"Yauger felt he just didn't have the mobility he needed to be a productive player for us," said head coach Tom Holmoe. "We would have loved to have him back in full health and we'll miss him, but it's better than we know now so we can focus on putting the right pieces together during our camp in Turlock. I believe we have enough talent along the line that we can come together and evolve into a very effective unit."
The Cal coaching staff has shuffled several players to different positions entering the pre-season practice sessions that begin this Wednesday. Massive Langston Walker (6-8, 340) has been moved inside to a guard position and will be given an opportunity to earn a starting spot. Walker, only a redshirt-freshman, spent the spring trying to earn a starting position at offensive tackle. However, the guard position should be easier for him to utilize his size. Later in his career, Walker could move back to tackle.
The other guard position could be manned by another redshirt-freshman in Brandon Ludwig, 6-4, 280, who has caught the attention of the coaches after moving over from defensive tackle last spring. He was originally scheduled to play offensive tackle.
The coaches have also moved John Romero from guard to center where he is expected to start. Romero, at 6-3 and 315 pounds, was originally pencilled in at a guard position. However, the coaching staff felt that he may offer more strength and stability at the center position. He'll be backed up by senior Caleb Brown.
While John Wellbourn, 6-5, 315, is set at the left tackle position and is in the best shape of his college career, the other tackle position figures to be a battle between several players. Junior Kevin Doherty, 6-5, 310, had a solid spring and the inside track but a number of players could contend for that spot during the Turlock camp. The man with the task of putting the offensive line together is coach Monte Clark who will need to call on all 18 years of coaching experience to piece together an effective unit in the time leading up to Cal's season opener against Houston on Sept. 5.
In other news, a pair of reserve players, fullback Josh Del Prado and offensive tackle Joe Major, have elected to leave the team. Del Prado, a junior from Antioch, wasn't expected to see much time behind Joshua White and Mike Freeman. Major, a redshirt-freshman from Redmond, WA, made the decision to retire from football and return to his home state in Washington where he plans to enroll at the University of Washington as a regular student.