Cal Baseball: Brandon McIlwain -- No Second Thoughts About Leaving Football

Jake Curtis

Maybe Brandon McIlwain could see the writing on the wall. Maybe he could see more clearly where his future lies. Whatever the reason, he decided at about this time year ago that he would give up his effort to play both football and baseball at Cal and focus solely on baseball.

Now, with the Bears season opening baseball game Friday night after spending an entire fall focusing on baseball instead of playing football, he says he has no second thoughts about his decision.

(Cal loses opener in 13 innings.)

"No, no second thoughts, he said last month. "I love football. It's got me to two colleges with scholarships, and it's been something I have been doing for my entire life.

"But especially as I got drafted last year [in the 26th round] and I got to go through a full college season, I really see that baseball is what I love. Baseball is what I enjoy, and it's really where I want to make my career, so at this point, I am excited to be able to do that."

McIlwain's scholarship has been changed from a football scholarship to a baseball scholarship, although it's a little unclear how that baseball scholarship works out for him. Division I schools are allowed 11.7 baseball sholarships doled out to a maximum 27 athletes.

At any rate, McIlwain could see by the end of the 2018 football season, that baseball might be his sport. He started two games at quarterback for Cal in 2018, and played in eight others, completing 62 percent of his passes and rushing for 403 yards. But by the end of the season, Chase Garbers, then a redshirt freshman, had seized the starting job and McIlwain's position was changed to a hybrid receiver/running back spot. Everybody put a good face on the move, but he did not get much playing time and his football future was cloudy.

So he took off on baseball, although his 2019 baseball season was cut short by a broken foot. He is scheduled to be Cal's regular enter fielder in this season, which begins Friday night at Long Beach State.


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