Cal has brought in several highly recruited offensive linemen in recent years, but Brian Schwenke may be standing out among all of them.
Schwenke got into one possession at right guard during the Bears' 45-26 win over UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. According to Jeff Tedford, Schwenke is the first player he's ever had as head coach to play along the offensive line as a true freshman.
Schwenke has seen time on offense in four of Cal's first six games and played on the field goal unit against USC. The UCLA contest marked the first time he received playing time while a game was still competitive.
Schwenke's ascension started when he impressed offensive line coach Steve Marshall during training camp. The team made the decision after the season opener against Maryland that he would not redshirt the season.
"He really showed a lot of promise through camp," Tedford said. "Coach Marshall really had a strong feeling that as the season went on, he would be making strides and earn some reps. He's very athletic, he's physical and a very powerful guy."
Although Schwenke isn't playing much, he and Tedford believe it's worth it for him to exhaust this year of eligibility because it will put him ahead of the learning curve. Schwenke has been taking reps with the second-team offense all season and has the playbook down. Had he redshirted, he would have played on the scout team this season and not have the same grasp of Cal's offense that he has now.
"If I were redshirting, I'd go into spring ball like I just got here," Schwenke said. "I wouldn't have that extra step ahead. That's why I like that I'm playing now, because next year there really shouldn't be anything to hold me back."