Sept. 1, 2000
Berkeley - Cal's opening day line-up for the 2000 season will be announced publicly for the first time on calbears.com on Labor Day, Monday, September 4 at 2:00 p.m. (PDT).
Head coach Tom Holmoe said he was meeting with his staff on Monday morning and would announce his team's starters in the afternoon. He will have comments on various position battles and his decisions on the official Cal website on Monday.
While there are many positions that are set with returning starters and clear-cut decisions, there are many others that remain very competitive as the team enters the final week of pre-season.
Among the most interesting are who will start at the defensive end position opposite All-American Andre Carter. Sophomore Tully Banta-Cain entered the pre-season as the favorite for starting duties, but he is being pushed hard by Shaun Paga, a 245-pound senior who has been out of football for the past two seasons competing for Cal's national championship rugby team.
Other decisions of interest are who sill start at inside linebacker where players such as Chris Ball, Matt Nixon, J.P. Segura, Jason Smith and John Klotsche are have made bids for the starting two spots. Junior Scott Fujita will clearly start at the outside linebacker position as soph Calvin Hosey continues to be hampered by a sprained football that was caused when a teammate stepped on his foot during a drill in Turlock. Hosey claims he will be back practicing next week and ready for game action, but the coaches are less optimistic, believing he's more likely back at full strength for game number two at Illinois.
Much of the interest in the starting line-up is at the wide receiver position. There are numerous candidates for starting status. Those include a trio of junior college transfers, Chad Heydorff, Charon Arnold and Derek Swafford, veterans Sean Currin and Philip Pippersburg, redshirt-freshman James Smith and a pair of impressive incoming freshman in Chase Lyman and Geoff McArthur.
Swafford is a savvy 25-year-old sophomore who has returned to football after spending five seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He has showed well during the pre-season, but a back problem may put him on the shelf for the first game of the season. Heydorff looked very sharp during informal workouts during the summer, drawing significant praise from Cal's secondary. However, he has been set back by a hamstring injury that bothered him during the summer and was tweaked during the Turlock camp. He's expected back in practice next week, but is unlikely to be named the starter due to his recent activity.
The safety positions also has created some interest as soph Bert Watts is pushing hard for significant playing time at the strong safety position as junior Dewey Hale has been slightly slowed by a lower hamstring pul.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the placekicker position. Head coach Tom Holmoe has taken over many special teams coaching duties this season and he has a very tough decision in naming a starting placekicker. The returning starter is Mark-Christian Jensen, but it's been a vigorous pre-season competition that has seen redshirt-freshman Tyler Fredrickson and soph Jeremy Hershey all enjoy great results in scrimmage situations.
While Holmoe said his decisions aren't "cast in stone," it will give Cal fans a very good idea of who the stalwarts will be this coming season.