Elijah Hicks has started 27 games for Cal, all at the cornerback spot. He has never played safety at Cal. That is likely to change on Monday against Illinois in the Redbox Bowl.
Because of an injury that will sideline starting safety Ashtyn Davis and an unspecified reason that his backup, Trey Turner III, will not be available for the game either, Hicks is likely to get playing time as a safety alongside the other starting safety, Jaylinn Hawkins.
Hicks will probably begin the game at his customary cornerback spot opposite Cal's other starting cornerback Camryn Bynum. Daniel Scott and Hawkins are listed as the Bears' starting safeties.
But at some point in the game, look for Hicks to move to safety.
When Hicks shifts to safety, Chigozie Anusiem will likely man a cornerback spot. Cal can make this move because it has some depth at the cornerback spot. Nickel back Traveon Beck and Braden Smith could also play corner.
Bynum could also get some time at safety, but Hicks has been getting more work at safety in the practices leading up to the Redbox Bowl.
Playing safety may have a bonus for Hicks and Bynum. Showing the versatility to play both cornerback and safety could enhance their status in the eyes of NFL scouts. Bynum is a redshirt junior who is deciding whether to enter the 2020 NFL Draft or return to Cal for his final season of college eligibility. He has until January 20 to make that choice.
There are certain skills necessary to play corner in the pros, and the ability to play more than one position is always attractive to NFL teams limited to a 53-man roster.