Cal outside linebacker Kuony Deng will miss his third straight game when the Bears host Washington State on Saturday afternoon, and it is unclear whether he will return this season.
"Kuony will be out for the near future," Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said Tuesday, "and I can't give you a timeline because some of it is just unknown based on his rehabilitation and work with our sport med."
Deng suffered an unspecified leg injury against TCU, and Wilcox is calling Deng's status a week-to-week situation. The Bears have a bye after the Washington State game, so his progress next week will be key.
Wilcox stated rather emphatically that Deng has not been ruled out for the remainder of the season, but the possibility that he will not play again in 2021 brings up an intriguing question:
Would Deng return for a seventh season in 2022 if he does not play again this season?
Deng is a super senior this season, having taken advantage of the rule that allows players who participated in games in the pandemic-affected 2020 season to have another year of college eligibility. Since he was injured early in the Bears' second game this season, it is assumed he would be granted a medical redshirt, allowing him to return to college for another season if he chose to do so.
That would be a difficult decision for Deng. As it stands now, he probably would not be taken in the 2022 NFL draft if he does not play again this season, so he might want to return to gain more exposure. But would he want to play another season of college ball?
The issue becomes moot if Deng returns at some point this season, which is entirely possible.
This week Marqez Bimage and Braxten Croteau are listed as the co-starters at Deng's outside linebacker position
Cal has other injury issues involving starters. Wide receiver and returner Nikko Remigio left Saturday's overtime loss to Washington after taking a big hit, and nose guard Stanley McKenzie and tight end Jake Tonges left that game with apparent leg injuries. And running back Damien Moore was slow to get up after taking a big hit that caused him to fumble the ball at the 1-yard line on the final play of Saturday's game.
Wilcox could not say definitively that all of them would be ready to play against Washington State,
"I anticipate those guys being back with us, but it's still early in the week," Wilcox said.
Their status may not be known for certain until Friday or Saturday, but all four are listed as starters on the Cal depth chart released Tuesday.
Cover photo of Kuony Deng by Kelley L. Cox, USA TODAY Sports
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