Cal’s defensive line — perhaps the biggest area of need on the team — could soon get a boost of experience.
Luc Bequette, who played at Boston College last season after five years at Cal, is expected to rejoin the Golden Bears by taking advantage of a one-time NCAA exemption that provides athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It would be great,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said Thursday during a media Zoom call.
Wilcox said nothing is official and that Cal now awaits word from the NCAA to give Bequette final clearance to return. But he sounded entirely optimistic that it will happen.
“Everything is moving forward in the right direction and it’s in the hands of the NCAA at this point,” Wilcox said.
Bequette, who will turn 24 on July 1, played all three positions on the D-line for Cal — nose guard, tackle and end. He saw action in 42 games and started 38 times from 2016 through 2019 after redshirting as a freshman in 2015.
He totaled 130 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, including 10 sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered one fumble. He was good enough that Athlon magazine projected him last year as a preseason second-team All-Pac-12 selection.
Bequette was granted a sixth year of eligibility for the 2020 season after playing just four games in 2016 before being injured.
But when the conference announced in August that football would be suspended due to the pandemic, Bequette made the decision to transfer to Boston College, which played an 11-game schedule.
Bequette started all 11 games at defensive tackle for the Eagles, totaling 18 tackles, including three TFLs. He forced two fumbles and recovered one.
He did not participate in spring ball this year at BC but instead entered the transfer portal in late April.
Cal was thin on the D-line last year and it remains a position group with limited experience. An offseason car accident involving Brett Johnson left the program’s most talented and versatile lineman with a hip fracture that required surgery and will sideline him for the entire 2021 season.
Do the math: Bequette has played a total of 53 college football games, starting 49 of them, in his stops at Cal and BC. The six defensive linemen projected on Cal's two-deep exiting spring ball had a total of 26 games and three starts, and three of them have never played in a college football game.
Needless to say, the Bears will welcome Bequette’s return for what will be his seventh season in college football.
“Luc’s situation’s really unique,” Wilcox said. “That’s unprecedented, as a lot of last year was, to transfer when there was no (Pac-12) season or claimed there was going to be no season. Luc transferred. We fully supported him. The 180 that the conference made (to reinstate the season), and by that time Luc was playing at Boston College.
“He finished the season there and had an interest in coming back. We were all for it. Now it’s just the NCAA — that’s the final piece of the puzzle.”
The 6-foot-2, 290-pound native of Little Rock, Arkansas, comes from an athletic family. His father Chris is a former Arkansas offensive lineman, and cousin Jake Bequette played in the NFL. His mother, Debi Thomas, was a figure skater who won a bronze medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Cover photo of Luc Bequette by KLC fotos
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo