Cal Football: Bears Safety Ashtyn Davis Won't Play in Redbox Bowl

Jake Curtis

Safety Ashtyn Davis, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection and a key component of Cal’s defense, will not play in the Redbox Bowl because of an injury that required minor surgery.

Cal coach Justin Wilcox noted after Friday’s first postseason practice that nearly all Bears players will be available for the bowl, and presumably that means wide receivers Jeremiah Hawkins and Kekoa Crawford, who missed the finale against UCLA, will play in the Dec. 30 game againt Illinois.

“There’s one that won’t [play],” Wilcox said in the video above, “and that’s Ashtyn Davis. “Ashtyn had to have a procedure done. It’s a minor procedure, but it’s something he had to have done. It’s something small, but it had to be done.”

Wilcox did not specify the procedure that was performed, but he did confirm that Davis will not play in the Redbox Bowl.

Davis officially saw action in all 12 games, but he was not in the starting lineup in several late-season games, and he barely played at all in those games. He was back in the starting lineup in the regular-season finale against UCLA, but he did not look to be 100 percent.

Nonetheless he finished as Cal's fourth-leading tackler, and tied for the team lead in interceptions with two. He also forced two fumbles and broke up four passes. He had four interceptions in the 2018 season.

Ashtyn Davis
Ashtyn Davis (27) puts a hit on Oregon receiver Jaylon Redd. Photo by Troy Wayrynen - USA TODAY Sports

Davis is expected to be the first Cal player taken in 2020 NFL Draft, projected to be a second- or third-round pick who might be able to move into the first round if he performs well in pre-draft workouts.

It has become common in recent years for some players with pro potential to skip their bowl games to avoid injury or to protect their draft status. But Wilcox said that is not the case with Davis.

“I’m not sure it was avoidable,” Wilcox said of the surgery. “He had to have it done. We are all behind Ashtyn.”

Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette were among the high-profile players who skipped their teams’ bowl games to save themselves for the NFL Draft, and 247 Sports identified several players who already have said they will not play in their bowl games this season.

Wilcox said no Cal players have opted out of the bowl game yet, but did not dismiss the possibility that some Cal player might opt out before the game on Dec. 30. 

“Currently no,” Wilcox said when asked whether any Cal players will skip the bowl game. “Guys have to make decisions for themselves. So . . . not yet.”

All coaches presumably would want their players – especially their best players – to remain with the team for a bowl game, but Wilcox was reluctant to let his feelings known on the issue.

“That’s a touchy one, to be honest,” he said. “Ultimately it has to be in the players’ hands. I can talk to them about their decision and offer insight. I know how I feel, but it’s ultimately up to the player.

“I know it’s become more commonplace in this day and age, but it’s a touchy subject.”

Davis, linebacker Evan Weaver and safety Jaylinn Hawkins are the most likely players to be taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. Cornerback Cam Bynum also might be drafted if he opts to give up his final season of college eligibility and enter the draft.