SANTA CLARA -- Monday is not merely the first day of football training camp for Cal. It's a reunion of sorts for a handful of the Bears' best defensive players who missed most or all of last season.

Defensive end Brennan Scarlett, tackle Mustafa Jalil, linebacker Nathan Broussard and safeties Stefan McClure and Avery Sebastian combined to play just six games last fall when Cal's defense surrendered nearly 46 points per game.

All of them have recovered from injury and they figure to dramatically improve the Bears' defense.

"Seeing these guys in summer workouts, how strong and fast they're looking, I think when we all get together on the field it's going to be something special," said Scarlett, sidelined all of last season by complications from a broken hand.

Coach Sonny Dykes, speaking at Bay Area College Football Media Day at Levi's Stadium, shares Scarlett's eagerness, but also is a bit anxious.

"It's going to be fun seeing them all lined up out there. It certainly hasn't happened yet," he said.

Will they all be on the field for the Aug. 30 opener at Northwestern?

"That's the goal," Dykes said. "To have those guys out there, we'll actually look like a good football team, a team that's ready to play some good defense and have some experience and some size and some strength."

Broussard, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in camp last August, has been moved from outside to middle linebacker.


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"We think Nathan Broussard's got a chance to be really good," Dykes said. "You throw him into the mix and you can make the argument that maybe five of the top six or seven guys (on defense) didn't play last year or played very little."

Scarlett agreed. "I think Broussard will be a big surprise for people. No one's seen him play inside linebacker."

Jalil, highly rated out of high school, returns after a nagging knee injury that kept him sidelined all of last season. Dykes' only up-close impressions of him so far came during 2013 spring ball.

"He's like a phantom. You hear about him and you think he really exists, but you're not quite sure," said Dykes, beginning is second season in Berkeley. "In the spring (of 2013), the offense really had a hard time blocking him."

  • Three new defensive players have enrolled and will join the team for workouts Monday, Dykes confirmed.

    Cornerback A.J. Greathouse is a freshman from Chandler, Arizona, linebacker Jake Kearney is a sophomore from Livermore by way of College of San Mateo and linebacker Arthur Wainwright is a junior from College of the Sequoias.

    "We recruited them all because they're very good athletes. I know they can run fast, physically they look good, they've been productive," Dykes said. "How do they fit, what kind of shape are they in? We'll know more Monday, but we'll really know a lot more the following Monday.

    "A couple of them will really jump off early, then kind of get overwhelmed and take a step back. So it's really a week in before we can say we're going to get something out of this guy."

  • Dykes said he doesn't expect sophomore defensive tackle James Looney to be granted a transfer waiver to be immediately eligible. A week ago he was hopeful Looney, from Wake Forest, would be cleared.

    The younger brother of 49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney is enrolled in school but will likely have to sit out this season.

  • Nearly four months after his death following an offseason training run, Ted Agu continues to inspire his teammates.

    "It's crazy how something like that can really bring a group of people together. Because it's hard to shoulder something like that on your own," Scarlett said. "It'll be huge for us, one of the biggest motivational factors for out team. I don't think it will fade away for years to come."

  • All but one of Cal's seven scheduled practices at Memorial Stadium next week are open to the public. The Bears will work out from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Thursday's session is closed. Friday (3:30 p.m.), Saturday (noon) and Sunday (3:30 p.m.) are open.

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