Much of the focus of Cal's spring practice is on former scout team players who are finally getting reps with the real offense and defense. But it's two guys who saw game-action last year who could be changing the depth chart. Sophomore nose tackle Kendrick Payne and senior linebacker Jarred Price are currently getting first team reps after previously playing backup roles. Payne had a terrific day at Saturday's practice and appears on his way to seriously challenging incumbent Derrick Hill for a starting role.
"He's right there in the mix to start," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's played really, really well." Payne played in Cal's first two games as a true freshman before a knee injury ended his season. He ended up redshirting and came back as a key reserve last year, although he was limited by a foot injury. "Everybody wants to start, but me, Aaron Tipoti and D-Hill could all start and do just as well," Payne said. "We can take somebody out and put somebody in and be just as good." Price came to Cal last season as a transfer from Blinn College in Dallas and was used strictly as a third down pass rusher. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's philosophy calls for a more attacking style, and Price's skills are more suited for him to play on all downs. "The defense Coach P. brought in is more aggressive," Price said. "It's kind of like what we ran at Blinn. It's like second nature to me. Right now, I'm with the (first team). Hopefully I can carry that over into fall camp."