Much of the success of Cal's 3-4 defense is based on the ability of the nose guard to plug up the middle, occupy blockers and be a run-stuffer. Chris Palmer did not get much publicity, but the 335-pound Palmer was able to do what needed to be done at the position.
But he's gone.
The nose guard spot may be the most crucial position on the team next year, because no one has established himself as the starter at that position yet.
"Chris Palmer had a big role for us," Wilcox said.
Wilcox starts the video by talking about 305-pound Siulagisipai Fuimaona, but the coach's description suggests the team needs more than what Fuimaona has shown so far.
The other option at the moment is Aaron Maldonado, who would be a very different kind of nose guard from Fuimaona. Maldonado weights just 285 points, so he could not just hold the line of scrimmage like a bigger player, but he provides a little more athleticism.
"He's not as massive, but he's really quick and he's got a natural pass-rush," Wilcox said.
Maldonado was not available during the spring, but he could be a starter when Cal plays its first game next season.
Wilcox was also impressed with the work of walk-on Erick Nisich, a redshirt freshman who is listed as a defensive end, but possibly could be used inside.