Khairi Fortt started just one game -- Illinois his true freshman year -- in his two seasons at Penn State and he’s listed as middle linebacker Glen Carson’s backup in the school’s media guide depth chart. That doesn’t mean his arrival at Cal won’t help the Golden Bears or hurt the Nittany Lions. Fortt's 2011 Iowa film proves as much. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, Fortt is quick enough to slip blocks between the tackles and closes well when chasing the run. He enters a wide-open competition for a starting job with the Golden Bears looking to replace both inside linebackers from last year and he has the natural ability to come out on top.
The question is whether Fortt can pick up Bears defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s base 3-4 scheme in time to make an early impact after playing in Penn State’s base four-man front. Fortt is expected to report to camp on Friday and start practicing on Saturday. That doesn’t give Pendergast and his staff much time. In addition, Fortt, who missed time with a knee injury in the spring, has to stay healthy. There is reason to be optimistic about his ability to make a smooth transtion. Fortt showed average to slightly above-average instincts in that Iowa game and his ability to line up on the outside in addition to the inside at Penn State is a testament to his football intelligence.