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365体育投注Kayden Hoal, a 2019 Davis High graduate, is entering year two at UCLA. He is one of three former Blue Devil football stars competing in the PAC-12. Andrew Cho/UCLA Athletics

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PAC-12 Devils: Hoal set for year No. 2 at UCLA, while Tank heads to Colorado

This upcoming college football season will feature three former Blue Devils on PAC-12 rosters as Tucker Fisk (Stanford), Kayden Hoal (UCLA) and Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan (Colorado) each suit up for their respective programs.

A senior tight end for the Cardinal, 2017 Davis High graduate Fisk is entering his final season in Silicon Valley, while Hoal is itching to get back to Southern California for his second year in Bruinville. Now, Christian-Lichtenhan, a graduating senior, is set to join the fold in Boulder, having committed to take his talents as an offensive tackle to CU.

365体育投注Cooped up at home in Davis, working on classes remotely for the remainder of the school year, Hoal and Christian-Lichtenhan took some time to chat with The Enterprise about their thoughts heading into the 2020 fall season.

Here’s what the pair of DHS standouts had to say about the COVID-19 situation in relation to football and taking the next step in their athletic careers:

Playing alongside former UC Davis tailback Joshua Kelley365体育投注 (a recent fourth-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Chargers who transferred to UCLA in 2018), Hoal’s Bruins finished things 4-8 last fall. But the Boys from Westwood were a hot ticket item, scoring 30-plus points in six separate contests including a 67-63 barn-burning victory over Washington State — a win many college-football analysts ranked as the best comeback of the entire NCAA season.

365体育投注Hoal — who played both wideout and linebacker at Davis — settled into his defensive post from Day 1 in Southern California. The 6-3, 205-pounder described the atmosphere for that 130-point thriller in Pullman as nothing short of “insane.”

“The environment at those kinds of games is crazy,” the middle linebacker explained. “But that particular game, coming from behind to beat a top 25 team, with us being unranked … that was one of the top highlights of the year.”

365体育投注Heading into season No. 2 in two-time PAC-12 Coach of the Year Chip Kelly’s system, Hoal feels the Bruins are poised for a breakout campaign. Kelly, he says, runs a tight ship and complex playing scheme, something the team started to finally gel in during the second half of last season.

“We were a young team,” Hoal said. “And this past year we had a lot of moments of growth. Going from the high-school culture to Division I college football … it’s a super big leap.”

From the first moment he set foot on campus last summer, Hoal says his days, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., were scheduled down to the minute.

“I have an app downloaded on my phone,” he recalls, “And there’s never a moment where I don’t know what I need to be doing.”

Still working out twice a day, Hoal connects with UCLA’s linebackers’ core regularly. The group is led by former Cal assistant athletic director Don Pellum, whose work with Kelly dates back to their coaching days at Oregon when the Ducks appeared in four consecutive BCS bowl games between 2010 and 2013, including two Rose Bowls.

365体育投注And the Bruins have quite the track record when it comes to producing NFL talent at linebacker. Myles Jack (Jaguars), Kenny Young (Rams) and both Erik Kendricks and Anthony Barr (Vikings) are just a few UCLA products.

“The coaching staff and their football knowledge is crazy,” Hoal adds. “There’s no question they don’t have an answer to.”

Rocky Mountain madness

365体育投注Meanwhile, Christian-Lichtenhan’s team in Boulder has been put through the wringer the last three months.

Recruited by Mel Tucker, who after just a single season at the University of Colorado left to become the next coach at Michigan State, the 6-foot-9, 325-pound tackle most call “Tank” has had two different head coaches despite not having played a single game for the Buffaloes.

Tucker was widely criticized by Buffs fans for misleading recruits, donors and fans in the weeks and even hours prior to announcing he’d taken the Spartans’ head coaching position. At a booster event the day before he struck a deal with MSU, he’d repeated his commitment to the program for the future.

365体育投注His $5.5 million annual salary in East Lansing is nearly double what he was being paid in Boulder — a seemingly irresistible offer for Tucker who overnight went from being the ninth-highest paid coach in the PAC-12 to the 12th-highest paid football mentor in the nation, according to Sports Illustrated.

“It definitely caught a lot of us by surprise that he left,” Christian-Lichtenhan admits. “But I’ve gotten close with my new coaches over the last few months.”

Not unlike UC Davis and Sacramento State’s recent hires in which the schools brought back “old guard” in Dan Hawkins and Troy Taylor365体育投注 to guide their ships, CU tapped its former offensive coordinator Karl Dorell, to replace Tucker.

365体育投注And it just so happened that the veteran college and NFL coach had purchased a house with his wife just minutes from Boulder a few years back.

365体育投注“I didn’t pick (Colorado) for the coaching,” says Tank, who has interests in studying both business and education. “I picked it for the location and the community around it.

“But having a coach with community ties like he does, people are excited about it.”

Looking to help change the culture at CU, just like he did with the Devils in Davis — going from 0-10 his sophomore season to conference champions this past year — Tank will have a quick turnaround after graduation. His report date is set for June 14, just two days after DHS has its virtual ceremony scheduled.

365体育投注Christian-Lichtenhan has his fingers crossed that the Buffs will still get the chance to play this fall (and in front of fans at the 50,000-seat Folsom Stadium). Hoal’s Bruins often draw 70,000 spectators per game at the 92,542 capacity Rose Bowl.

“If it comes to (playing without fans), so be it,” says Hoal. “It’s certainly not my first concern. I’m at school to get my degree and then play football.”

365体育投注Echoes Tank: “Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But, right now, I’m just thankful for everything I have.

“I couldn’t have made it to where I am without the support around me and everyone that’s had my back throughout the years.”

Notes: Fisk’s Cardinal — which sports former UCD head football coach Ron Gould as running backs assistant — closed out this past season with an identical record to UCLA at 4-8. Stanford is set to face Hoal and the Bruins in Pasadena on Sept. 26 and host Christian-Lichtenhan and Colorado Nov. 14. CU finished 2019 at 5-7 overall.

— Reach Owen Yancher at [email protected] Follow him via Twitter at @530athletics.

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