BERKELEY -- Cal junior safety Avery Sebastian, one of the team's emotional leaders, will undergo season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a torn right Achilles tendon, coach Sonny Dykes announced.

"It's a pretty significant blow," Dykes said. "He's very disappointed."

It's the latest setback for Sebastian, who suffered a concussion during fall training camp and missed two weeks of practice. He was cleared in time to play in last Saturday's opener against Northwestern and had 11 tackles before being injured in the second quarter of the Bears' 44-30 loss.

"It's tough for him. Avery's a kid that loves to play football, has a tremendous passion for the game," Dykes said. "He's one of our leaders on a team that doesn't have a lot of leadership. I hate it for him.

"He'll be back better than ever."

Sebastian will be eligible to reclaim a year of eligibility through a medical redshirt.

Junior Michael Lowe will assume the starting strong safety job.

  • Linebacker Khairi Fortt, who suffered a head injury on Saturday, was cleared to practice Tuesday. Running back Brendan Bigelow, also sidelined by a blow to the head, was held out of practice pending clearance through concussion protocols but could play Saturday against Portland State.

    The status of defensive end Brennan Scarlett (hand) and linebacker Nick Forbes (back) remains uncertain, and it's almost certain neither will play Saturday. Dykes did not rule out the possibility either might eventually apply for a medical redshirt year but said that discussion is premature.


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  • Dykes said he'd like to see the NCAA enact rules that might prevent the kind of controversy that arose Saturday, when fans at Memorial Stadium booed in response to a series of Northwestern injuries they believed were fake in order to slow Cal's no-huddle offense.

    Dykes said nothing significant was said when he shook hands after the game with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, and he stopped short of accusing the Wildcats of unethical play.

    But, he added, "I think as a coach you don't ever want to be put into a situation where that thought even enters your mind that that's happening."

    As more college teams challenge defenses with fast-tempo play, Dykes said a potential solution is tied to player safety.

    "If (an injury) is severe enough that there's a stoppage in play, to me the medical staff has to have time to be attentive to that student-athlete's well-being," he said. "I think the best way to do that is to hold them for the rest of the series, hold them for a specific allotted time frame, (or) hold them for a number of plays.

    "But I do think it's something we need to take a look at."

  • Placekicker Vincenzo D'Amato said the Bears had only practiced once or twice the fake field goal he turned into a 10-yard touchdown pass to holder Jackson Bouza on the Bears' first series against Northwestern.

    "We used a volleyball," he said of the informal rehearsal.

    When the play came from the sideline Saturday to fake the field goal, D'Amato said he was totally surprised. "It happened so fast I kind of don't remember what happened," he said.

    A soccer player growing up, D'Amato said he'd never played quarterback at any level of football. He took teasing from his coaches about his passing form and a friend texted him, "Good job, Tom Brady."

    But D'Amato got the last laugh. He's 1 for 1 with an off-the-charts passer efficiency rating of 445.0.

  • Senior receiver Spencer Hagan, who scored a touchdown in the 2011 Big Game, has retired from football because of a knee injury suffered last season. Hagan will work this season as a team manager and will be given student coaching responsibilities.

    For more on Cal sports, see the Bear Talk blog at ibabuzz.com/beartalk. Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.

    saturday's game

    Portland State (1-0) at
    Cal (0-1), 2 p.m. Pac-12 Network