Publish date:

Cal Football: Healthy Will Craig Solidifies Starting Offensive Line

New offensive line coach Angus McClure also like his group's young backups

Cal came out of its abbreviated spring workouts with basically four of five offensive line positions set.

Now, it appears, all five starters are pretty well established.

Sophomore Will Craig was listed as the No. 2 left tackle on the post-spring depth chart, but that may have been more a function of him battling back from a season-ending foot injury that limited him to a single game last fall.

Versatile senior Valentino Daltoso was penciled in as the No. 1 left tackle after spring ball, but Craig has come on strong, as expected.

First-year offensive line coach Angus McClure this week said competition is ongoing, it’s still early in camp and he is not ready to name a starting unit. And then he said: .

“If we lined up to play today, Will’s going to be at left tackle. I can tell you this, Val’s going to be at left guard and left tackle.

"We’re not ready to go out and take 85 snaps. So again, we have to have multiple guys ready to play that left tackle position.”

So here’s how it likely will look on Nov. 7 against Washington: LT Will Craig, LG Matthew Cindric, C Michael Saffell, RG McKade Mettauer, RT Jake Curhan.

Daltoso pretty much firmed up how things will unfold.

“Will Craig’s awesome,” Daltoso said. “Honestly, I think he’s going to be really strong there at tackle. I’ve been focusing more on the interior, but for me I always stay ready. Reallly, I’ve been honing in on that left guard spot.”

Craig told reporters Friday that he spent the post-pandemic spring months at home lifting weights and continuing to rehab his foot. By the time he was back on campus, Craig said his foot was completely healthy.

“So far, it’s held up well during these practices,” Craig said.

McClure, who tried recruiting Craig out of Granite Bay to UCLA, praises Craig’s athletic traits.

“I think he’s got extremely good feet. He’s got good awareness. He’s got natural hip bend, which really helps for pass protection. He has the ability to run,” McClure said. “So as an overall athlete, Will is excellent.”

Here’s more from McClure on Craig:

Craig is feeling much more in touch with the team again than after he was injured last fall. Craig talked having to move about on a scooter, and that it took him about 30 minutes to get from his residence to Memorial Stadium.

“It was tough sometimes. Obviously it sucked getting a little taste (of playing) and then having it taken away,” the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder said. “We’re still tight in the O-line room and we’re all such good friends. I still felt part of the team.

“Obviously, you never want to get injured. But it’s part of football. I’m just happy to be back.”

Craig said Daltoso’s presence is a great benefit to him. “Val’s awesome, a veteran leader on the O-line. Such a talented player. I think we have outstanding chemistry on the O-line.”

McClure is encouraged by the depth he expects the Bears’ offensive line to boast this season. Guard Gentle Williams, who went down with a season-ending lower-body injury last August before the opener, still is not healthy enough to play.

But McClure likes some of the Bears’ younger linemen. He talks in the video below about redshirt freshman Ben Coleman, redshirt freshman Brayden Rohme, redshirt sophomore Erick Nisich and redshirt freshman Brian Driscoll.

Another bright spot in camp has been true freshman Everett Johnson, aa 6-foot-7, 325-pound tackle. Johnson was a consensus 3-star recruit at Turlock High.

Here is McClure’s early analysis on Johnson:

.

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Cal Sports Report on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page