Cal Football: Cornerback Camryn Bynum Wants to Play -- `I'd Be Willing to Risk It'

Jeff Faraudo

Cal senior cornerback Camryn Bynum has no idea whether the Pac-12 Conference is about to cancel the football season, but he’s ready to go full speed ahead.

“Personally, I’d be willing to risk it and play football, just because of my love for the game,” Bynum said in an interview Monday afternoon. “I don’t think there’s any running from COVID. I think it’ll be here for a while.”

What happens next is uncertain, Bynum admits.

“As of now, I’m confused about what’s happening because I see more and more people canceling their seasons and pushing it back,” he said. “The trend lately, everything’s been a domino effect. I’m worried that’s going to happen now.”

Bynum says he’s confident players can be protected from the virus and expressed his trust in Cal’s medical and training staffs in a Twitter post.

Camryn Bynum tweets his thanks

He also indicated he’s not willing to forfeit his final season if the #WeAreUnited group does not get what it wants from the Pac-12 Conference. The player group issued a list of demands a week ago, ranging from issues related to COVID-19 to social injustice to player compensation.

When asked specifically what portions of the #WeAreUnited platform he embraces and what aspects he does not support, Bynum said he respects the position of all of his teammates but places one issue above the rest.

“First and foremost, I want to be a good teammate to everybody on my team and a good colleague to everybody playing football,” he said, declining to speculate about how many teammates might be willing to boycott if the Pac-12 doesn't fulfill their demands. “I support everybody and I respect everybody’s point. And I respect why they feel certain ways and why they’re asking for certain things.”

*** Here's my full interview with Bynum: 

For Bynum, the most pressing issue is the question of getting a year of eligibility back if the season is canceled or a player opt-outs for any reason.

“The only thing I’m focusing on, because it directly affects a lot of people I’m close to, is the eligibility standpoint. I for sure think people should get their eligibility back . . . I know of a lot of my teammates, friends, would need that extra year, trying to achieve their dreams.

“Overall, losing a year of football and not getting it back would be sad. There’s people's livelihood on the line, there’s people's fun and escape from other things in life. So football is needed, in my opinion.”

A three-year starter, Bynum would love to have one more season to impress NFL scouts but is confident he has enough game tape to show what he can do.

The key to safely making a season happen, Bynum suggests, is better testing. He said he and his teammates are tested each week. For him, it’s been six tests, six negative.

He hopes that eventually there can be same-day testing to safeguard players at practice. “I just think we’ve got to come up with more solutions more than bringing up problems,” he said. “It can be done.”

In the meantime, Bynum agrees with those, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who have argued that athletes will be safer staying with their team, practicing and playing, than they would if set free or sent home.

“One hundred perfect agree,” he said. “Say you send us back home or we don’t have a season, everybody’s just waiting around. You’re back in the general population with people who aren’t taking it as serious as football players. If you’re with your team and with people who are constantly getting tested, you know you’re safe and you have something to look forward to.

“It kind of gives you an incentive to be more cautious at what you’re doing outside football. Just live a cleaner lifestyle than you would back home if you’re with friends and family that maybe have to go to work every day and they’re exposed to a lot of people with the virus. I think football is the best thing for everybody right now.”

Bynum said he underwent minor knee surgery just as spring football was being shutdown and he’s fully recovered.

“All good now. I feel better than I ever have.”

In fact, Bynum called quarantine “the best thing that’s ever happened” for him.

“I’m a homebody and an introvert so it’s kind of given me an excuse not to go out of the house,” he said, laughing.

With his extra time, Bynum took up the piano in April. “I’m trying to become a master of that within a year,” he explained. “That’s kind of my new craft besides football. I’m three, four months in now, so I’m getting pretty good. Not there yet.”

The discipline learning a musical instrument requires has side benefits, Bynum believes.

“I feel like it translates to football -- the mental game, the patience on the keys, just focusing on that,” he said. “I feel like it’ll help me with football.”

Whenever that happens.