California coach Justin Wilcox, who rose to prominence as a defensive coordinator, is making a key hire for his defensive staff.

Sources tell FootballScoop that Wilcox is working to finalize a deal for UNLV cornerbacks coach Tre Watson to join the Golden Bears’ defensive staff.

Watson will work with Cal’s secondary.

Watson’s got strong PAC-12 ties; he served two years as a defensive graduate assistant at rival Oregon before he joined the Runnin’ Rebels’ staff as cornerbacks coach a year ago.

Wilcox has revamped his defensive staff after losing coordinator Tim DeRuyter to the Ducks earlier in this coaching cycle.

Peter Sirmon was elevated to lead the Cal defense as coordinator after DeRuyter’s departure. The former NFL veteran and SEC assistant Sirmon has carved a strong reputation as a defensive mind.

Watson’s impressed coaches since his playing days. He began his career at NCAA Division II program Central Washington but, per a Las Vegas Sun feature story, was so determined to play for the Washington Huskies that Watson continued to show up to UW’s practices.

He spent one year as a walk-on, earned a scholarship and immediately transitioned into coaching.

Since then, Watson has been on a rapid ascent – and now he’s on the verge of stamping his arrival with an on-field assistant position at a major Power-5 program.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest news and notes in football.

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John Brice has covered college football, mostly in the SEC as well as covering Notre Dame and Ohio State, for more than 20 years. He's a former Tennessee Vols football sideline reporter and believes life should be spent traveling or planning the next trip.