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Cal Football Pre-Game Notebook: Coaches Encouraged by Feme Oladejo's Promise

Freshman linebacker made five tackles against TCU last week in his college debut.

Freshman Feme Oladejo will play his final game as a 17-year-old today against Sacramento State. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound inside linebacker turns 18 on Monday.

Defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon reminds us there is one more aspect of Oladejo’s inexperience.

“All these players that are playing now who just joined us, not all of them had a senior year,” he says. “So the last time Feme really played, he was a junior in high school.”

The Elk Grove native made his debut last Saturday at TCU, was on the field for 42 plays and recorded five tackles.

“I thought he did a really nice job for his first live appearance,” Sirmon says. “There’s so many things that you learn from that first opportunity: anxiety, how you think about the game, how you handle yourself when you’re exhausted.

"All those different things really reveal themselves and I was pleased with how he played for that experience. He needs to improve, like all of us need to improve. Once his experience and his talent intersect with one another, I think we’re going to see a productive player who helps us win games.”

Oladejo, in the video above, calls it a “blessing” to get back on the field.

“It felt good to go out there and have fun. Got to play football, like I’ve been doing my whole life,” he said. “Got a lot to learn, obviously, so now I’ve just got to go day by day and progressing.”

Cal coach Justin Wilcox says he’s encouraged by Oladejo every day he watches him in practice.

“Feme is a very, very coachable guy, very eager. And he’s got physical tools. He’s big, he can run, he’s a very good tackler who’s got a great tackling radius with his length and his speed,” Wilcox says in the video above.

“So I think he’s got a really bright future. He’s just brand new. That was his first game and he got thrown into a tough situation but I thought he did a heck of a job.”

Asher O'Hara with former Cal coordinator Tony Franklin during their time together at Middle Tennessee

Asher O'Hara with former Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin

.HORNETS QB HAS BERKELEY LINK: Sacramento State quarterback Asher O’Hara has something in common with former Cal grad Jared Goff — both were coached by Tony Franklin.

Franklin was Sonny Dykes’ offensive coordinator for Goff’s three seasons in Berkeley, then left for Middle Tennessee to be closer to family.

In 2018, he saw a junior college quarterback from Rolling Meadows, Illinois, whose talents intrigued him.

"He had a special skill-set. He's got that unique ability,” Franklin said at the time. “In high school and junior college, he could make plays when things didn't go right.”

O’Hara spent three seasons at Middle Tennessee, moving into the starting lineup in 2019. A dual-threat QB, he piled up impressive numbers for the Blue Raiders: 4,690 passing yards with 32 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, along with 1,753 rushing yards and 17 more score.

In 2020, O’Hara accounted for more than 75 percent of Middle Tennessee’s offense.

After that season, O’Hara announced he was entering the transfer portal. He wound up joining younger sophomore brother Jace O’Hara, a nickel back, at Sac State.

Here’s how O’Hara said farewell on social media: “A huge thank you to my teammates and now my friends for life, coach (Tony) Franklin for developing me into a D1 QB and even more, a better man.”

Franklin announced his retirement from coaching a couple weeks later.

Cover photo of freshman linebacker Feme Oladejo (43) by Al Sermeno, KLC fotos

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