Much of the 2017 team’s success came from its bigplay
ability on defense. Cal ranked among the nation’s
best for much of the season in nearly every defensive
category related to turnovers before nishing tied
for 21st in defensive touchdowns (4), tied for 27th
in fumbles recovered (10), tied for 29th in turnovers
gained (24) and tied for 32nd in passes intercepted
(14). Cal’s seven takeaways in a 37-3 win over then No.
8/9 Washington State equaled the second-most by
an FBS team in 2017 with the Bears’ 9.0 sacks in the
contest the most by a Cal team since 2005. The 2017
Cal defense had better total numbers and rankings than
the 2016 squad in 14 of the primary 15 team defensive
statistics tracked by the NCAA. Even more impressive
was the Bears’ average improvement in the national
rankings of just under 40 spots per category in those
15 defensive statistics.
Ross Bowers, Laird, Kanawai Noa, and Vic Wharton III
led Cal’s 2017 offense with Bowers throwing for 3039
yards to rank sixth on the Bears’ all-time single-season
list, Laird (1127 yards, 8 TD) becoming the 16th Cal
player to rush for 1000 or more yards in a season and
Wharton III (67-871, 5 TD) and Noa (56-788, 4 TD) were
the top two receivers.
Laird was also one of 10 national semi nalists for the
Burlsworth Trophy, earned honorable mention All-
Pac-12 honors and was a rst-team Pac-12 All-Academic
pick in addition to nding a spot on the CoSIDA
Academic All-District® 8 squad.
Prior to becoming Cal’s head coach, Wilcox spent
the previous 11 seasons as a defensive coordinator
most recently for Cotton Bowl champion Wisconsin in
2016 following previous stops at Boise State (2006-
09), Tennessee (2010-11), Washington (2012-13) and
USC (2014-15). Over his rst 16 seasons in collegiate
coaching as an assistant, Wilcox was a member of staffs
that coached teams to 14 bowl games, ve conference
or division championships and compiled an all-time
record of 150-58.
Wilcox also spent three seasons as Cal’s linebackers
coach from 2003-05 in his first position as a fulltime
A 1999 graduate of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree
in anthropology, Wilcox is the son of Dave and Merle
Wilcox. Dave was a Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker
who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1964-74.
As a collegiate student-athlete, Wilcox was a safety and
cornerback at Oregon (1996-99), helping the Ducks to
three bowl games.
outside linebackers coach Tim DeRuyter. Laird was
a nalist for the Burlsworth Trophy given to the top
player in the country who began his career as a walk-on
and the Senior CLASS Award as well as a member of
the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team®. Kunaszyk was
one of eight national semi nalists for the Lott IMPACT
Trophy, which honors a defensive player for character
and performance. DeRuyter was a semi nalist for the
Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Kunaszyk (SI) and Weaver (PFF) are both second-team
At the conference level, Kunaszyk led six Cal players on
the All-Pac-12 teams with a rst-team selection while
Weaver was voted to the second team with Luc Bequette,
Camryn Bynum, Steven Coutts and Ashtyn Davis receiving
honorable mention honors. In addition, 11 football
student-athletes were named to the Pac-12 All-Academic
teams, including rst-team selections in Laird, Michael
Saffell and Steven Coutts. Bequette, Coutts, Davis and
Weaver also each received Pac-12 Player of the Week
honors over the course of the season.
The highlights of Wilcox’s rst season as the head
coach in Berkeley in 2017 included a 3-0 start and nonconference
wins over Power 5 programs North Carolina
and Ole Miss, as well as a 37-3 victory over then No. 8/9
Washington State in an ESPN nationally-televised Friday
night home game. The victory against the Cougars
snapped Cal’s 17-game losing streak to top-10 teams,
was the Bears’ rst victory against a top-10 team since
2003 and only its second top-10 win since 1977.
Cal nished 5-7 overall in his rst season as the head
coach, adding a Pac-12 victory over Oregon State
while taking three conference squads down to the nal
moments before falling by a combined total of seven
points to Arizona, and in its nal two games of the
season at UCLA and Stanford.