Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez credits former Cal coach Jeff Tedford with an assist.
“Coach Tedford called me. He’s a good friend of mine,” Rodriguez said. “He said, ‘Hey, a really good linebacker who played for me is maybe interested in transferring to Arizona.’”
That linebacker, David Wilkerson, ended up in Tucson.
Wilkerson, who is paying his own way as a walk-on, could be a key addition when he gets eligible in the 2014 season. His college career has been interrupted by injuries, but he’s a former four-star recruit who showed flashes at Cal, starting three games in 2011, when he made 17 tackles, including 5.5 for loss and four sacks.
He was granted a medical redshirt for the 2010 season and missed last season because of an ankle injury. Wilkerson has been dealing with a shoulder problem lately.
He decided to transfer after slipping on the fall camp depth chart under new coach Sonny Dykes.
“I’m excited about it. I think he’s a good football player,” Rodriguez said.
“He had a little bit of a shoulder injury, so he has a chance to get his shoulder strong, get a year ahead academically and then I think we’ll get a couple of good years out of him.”
Wilkerson has one year of eligibility remaining but should qualify for an addition season because he missed two seasons because of injury.
“I think he’s hungry to prove himself,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said Wilkerson (6-2, 238) could end up as a hybrid linebacker/rush end.
“He’s a big dude,” said senior linebacker Jake Fischer.
“I haven’t been able to see what he can do yet because he’s been injured … but it’s a great addition. I can’t wait to see what he can get out and do. He’s smart and he’s a good dude.”
Wilkerson adds to Rodriguez’s impressive list of transfers who will be eligible next season, joining a trio of sophomores — quarterback Connor Brewer (Texas), receiver Cayleb Jones (Texas) and receiver/returner Davonte’ Neal (Notre Dame).
The Wildcats also have commitments from former Boise State defensive tackle Jeff Worthy and ex-TCU defensive back Jamie Byrd. Both are spending this season in junior college.