California should probably send a ‘Thank You' note to South Bend, Ind., because without an official visit to Notre Dame, Fontana (Calif.) Summit wide receiver Erik Brown may not have flipped his commitment from Washington to the Bears.
"What opened his eyes was, he went to Notre Dame and had a great visit to Notre Dame. That, in turn, got him and his family – his family went to Notre Dame with him – that got his family thinking solely about education and alumni base and where he's going to be at, after football," said Brown's seven-on-seven coach, Armond Hawkins. "Washington and him would have their meetings, they'd meet with him once a week for the past four weeks, so what happened was, they ended up coming back to Cal, because he was really just considering Notre Dame, Nebraska and Washington, but when he found out he could get a better education than all of them, with what Cal brought to the table, and stay at home, and get the ball 50 or 60 times like Bryce Treggs or [Chris] Harper, then that's pretty much a no-brainer."
The Fighting Irish, though, only get credit for an assist. The real score came at the hands of wide receivers coach Rob Likens, who, despite Brown's commitment to the Huskies, continued to recruit the 6-foot-2, 175-pound four-star even though he wasn't getting his calls returned. That persistence paid off when Likens scored an official visit from Brown on Nov. 8.
"His mother is heavily into the academic thing, and the family, as well. They all realize that Cal is one of the premier academic institutions in the country," Hawkins said. "That speaks for itself. They've been building a great relationship with coach Likens, and I think the main thing is coach Likens, once he's given the chance to deal with these kids, he's able to put his personality on the kid and it starts to rub off. It's definitely rubbed off on me as his seven-on-seven coach, so he's moving in a great direction with Cal."
While academics and Likens were of course the biggest considerations, the way that Washington is playing on offense actually wound up helping the Bear Raid.
"He flipped not only because of academics – Washington does not necessarily fit him, passing-wise, because they're changing their offense, and now their receivers are doing more what Oregon is doing, which is blocking, and Erik is a pure receiver, not really a blocking receiver," said Hawkins.
The relationships, though, are of paramount importance, and it certainly seems as though Likens has opened a door, what with the offers out to fellow Ground Zero seven-on player Malik Lovette, and visits from Maurice McKnight and Elijah Jones.
"It's about relationships, so I'm looking for him to go there, Elijah Jones – one of my top corners on my seven-on-seven – he came up to visit last week and hung out with coach [Randy] Stewart, so that's looking good," Hawkins said. "My 2015 kids are all looking good for Cal, because their parents – all of these kids are 3.8, 4.0 students, so their parents are all strictly academics, and they don't care about the glitz and glamor and the this and that. It's what's going to happen after football.
BEYOND THE COMMITMENT: Thank the Irish?
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