There's a reason that, as California focuses on shoring up its 2014 recruiting class, the Bears are also casting an eye to 2015, and that gaze has fallen squarely on Federal Way (Wash.) tailback Chico McClatcher.
While the Bears have yet to offer, it seems to be only a matter of time, as they like the 5-foot-8, 175-pounder's versatility, and the potential to use him at slot, running back, on kick and punt return, and just about any way that gets the ball in his hands.
McClatcher is explosive with the ball in his hands just about anywhere on the field, and while he isn't the biggest back out there, that shouldn't be a problem for Cal, what with diminutive freshman tailback Khalfani Muhammad leading the team with 445 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on 74 carries this season, to go along with 14 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown, as well as 46 kick returns for a total of 1,006 yards.
"I don't know much about their freshman running back, but I can tell that Cal likes to get their playmakers the ball a lot, if they have speed or not," McClatcher said. "It would be a good offense to be in, with my ability to catch the ball or run it. It seems like a good offense to be in."
McClatcher is a veritable Swiss Army knife of a player, not only playing both offense and defense (as a corner), but also splitting out wide almost as often as he takes the handoff in the backfield. This season, he piled up 2,400 all-purpose yards for the Eagles.
After spending one winter playing high school basketball, McClatcher now focuses on building up his body in the weight room during the offseason, also long jumping and running the 100m and 200m, which he intends to continue doing this spring.
McClatcher's personal best in the long jump is 22 feet, 2 inches, and his freshman year, he went to state, and placed fifth.
As for running, he laughs that he's better with pads on, when someone's chasing him.
"I'm an OK track sprinter. My fastest time last year was 11.2 (in the 100m), but I'm trying to reach it up to a 10.8 or a 10.7," McClatcher said. "I've got to work on my last 30 meters, basically."
The one McClatcher saw from the Bears this season was the Week Three contest against Ohio State, and he came away rather impressed by the Bear Raid.
"I saw them play Ohio State, and I thought that was a pretty good game, with both teams scoring. I liked how Cal was throwing the ball, and getting the playmakers the chance to get the ball and score. It seems like a good offense to be in," McClatcher said.
That said, his top two still remain Washington and Oregon, though he has yet to receive an offer from the Ducks. With the coaching upheaval in Seattle, though, McClatcher has remained steadfast. It's the school, the environment and the degree; "It's not the coach," McClatcher said.
"When Sark (former coach Steve Sarkisian) left, it didn't really impact me, or my choices," McClatcher said. "Just don't commit to a coach, because business is business, and anything can happen. It was a big deal, but it was not a big deal at the same time."
What kind of school would entice McClatcher? He says he's not a partier. He'd much rather be in the gym or watching the basketball team practice or trying to get stronger and faster than doing anything crazy.
"I'm just looking for a school that's a very chill school, they care about the athletes a lot there and academics," said McClatcher, who has a 3.2 GPA and will be taking the SAT this spring. "That's the one thing, when you go to college: I want to be a student-athlete, not an athlete-student. I just like a chill campus where I can get good study habits at, and a good work environment there for football, also."
McClatcher is already forming solid study habits, as he's taking Advanced Placement English: Literature and Composition.
"I wanted to take a more advanced class that makes you want to work at writing," said McClatcher.
One place that seems to fit the bill already is UCLA.
"UCLA's campus, when I went there last April, it was a very good campus to be at," McClatcher said. "No parties going on, so a very chill, relaxed campus."
With his grandfather residing in Bakersfield, McClatcher has seen both UCLA and USC campuses, but with his interest in and from the Bears rising, he may have Cal on his itinerary sooner rather than later.
"I'll probably go to California, because my grandpa lives down there, and we always go to campus and look at the campus of USC and UCLA, so I'll probably go down to look at Cal's campus," he said.
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