Berkeley – Jared Goff was Cal’s quarterback when Luc Bequette arrived on campus as a freshman in 2015. Barack Obama was still president. Many of Baquet’s current teammates were in middle school at Berkeley.
“It seems like every day I hear something new and crazy that shows how long I’ve been in college,” said Bequette, 24.
But it’s not the years that separate Becquet, the 6-2,295-pound defensive end, who will start for the Bears in the 124th big game at Stanford Stadium on Saturday.
Here’s the resume: Baquet is in his seventh season of college football and will play his 62nd career match on Saturday.
“I dreamed I actually cursed myself for traveling for seven years because when I tweeted mine I said, ‘I’m excited to go to Cal for the next 3 to 5 years.’
“And I feel like I locked myself in a box like that bothered me. It’s a good jinx, though.”
College athletes are typically given five years to play four seasons. Baquet was given an extra year due to an injury. And number 7 came courtesy of COVID-19, with the NCAA extending each athlete’s eligibility for compensation by one year.
“He’s just a nice guy to be around,” said Cal coach Justin Wilcox, whose tenure began in Year 3 of the Bequette era. “Good for our schedule, good for the young players. Yeah, he’s here. Has been a very long time. . . probably longer than any player has ever been at Cal.”
Becquet moved to Cal from Little Rock, Arkansas in 2015 and played for the Bears until 2019. When the Pac-12 decided to cancel the 2020 season due to the pandemic, Becquet was transferred to Boston College, where he started all 11 games. Eagle. After receiving an additional “COVID year,” he found his way back to Berkeley. (Jared Folks, a linebacker at East Tennessee State, is playing his eighth college football season, having served twice with injury exceptions.)
Becquet has been invaluable as a veteran on the defensive line, having lost his top player, Brett Johnson, for the season due to a hip injury in a car accident.
The 2021 season didn’t go the way the Bears had hoped. He started 1-5, found a rhythm with back-to-back decisive victories over Colorado and Oregon State, then was hit by a COVID outbreak that forced 24 players – including Baquet – to join Arizona two weeks ago. In a game to remember.
Cal lost to an Arizona team that hadn’t won a game in more than two years — a Pac-12 record 20-game losing streak — then had to postpone its game against USC last week when the virus struck 44 players, coaches. Spread and staff.
Becquet, who has been cleared to play this week, said the Big Game means more than ever given the circumstances of the year. And win on Saturday? “After a disappointing start, it will mean a lot to fans and the community.”
Although he grew up in Arkansas, Becquet had a sense of the Cal-Stanford rivalry as a youth. His uncle and a few cousins Cal attended, and his mother is Stanford graduate Debbie Thomas, a San Jose native who became world figure skating champion in 1986 and Olympic bronze medalist in ’88. She eventually earned her medical degree at Northwestern and a surgical residency in Little Rock, where she met Luke’s father, Chris Bequet, a former offensive lineman at the University of Arkansas.
Stanford’s influence was profound at home. “I hate to say it but I used to have a Tiger Woods Stanford golf shirt and hat,” Bequet said. “I got rid of it once I committed.”
Baquet says that when her mother shared old college stories, she was too young to understand the details of the rivalry. “Now I feel like I’m one of the biggest Cal fans on the team,” he said. “Once I’ve played I’m going to join the message board.”
Although she won’t be on hand on Saturday, Debbie Thomas saw her son play in the 2019 Big Game.
Becquet’s relationship with his mother is somewhat distant. He left the family when Luke was 13 years old and lived with his father at the time.
Washington Port wrote a detailed story about Thomas in 2016, detailing his life in a trailer in the impoverished coal-mining community of Richlands, Virginia. Out of work and forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of two divorces, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the newspaper reported, which Thomas disputed.
Baquet says he recently spoke with his mom, who joked about the Big Game rivalry. They meet on the phone “sometimes”, and Becquet only has good things to say about her.
Parts of her story, “have been blown out of proportion,” said Bequet, in which she lived with her father through high school. It was about dad becoming more familiar with football, he said.
“I think it was hard at first,” Baquet said, speaking generally about her relationship with her mother and separation from family. “At this point I’ve gotten over it. I just look forward to the future. I think she’s doing great.
“I never really worried about her. I knew she’d be fine.”
Baquet’s future is on a good track. He has a Cal degree in legal studies and will be completing his postgraduate certificate program next month. He wants to continue playing football, but has finished professional real estate classes, is ready to take exams and already has a job.
After so many years, life without football and college would be both scary and exciting, Bequet said.
And not just for him.
“When he’s not here anymore,” said Wilcox, “it’s going to feel weird.”