California will likely sign 20 total players by the time National Signing Day rolls around on Feb. 6, a number that has shot up because of roster attrition, and may now go up even more with other potential defections, which head coach Sonny Dykes addressed for the first time on Wednesday.
Dykes confirmed that quarterback Zach Kline and Freddie Tagaloa have been granted permission by Cal to contact other schools to seek a transfer.
There could also be others. BearTerritory has reported last month that Johnny Ragin and Chad Whitener would be seeking to transfer, but Dykes would not address players beyond those who had already put in transfer papers.
"I would think there would be more," Dykes said. "As of now, [Kline and Tagaloa are] kind of the ones that we know about. Really, that's all I can speak to, but this time of year, I would think, if you look around at college football programs across the country, this time of year, there's going to be two, three, four, five other guys transferring."
When asked if anyone else had requested a release, Dykes said, "That's a good question. Same deal. I don't know. I've been in contact with compliance, and I think there are some players who have gone down that have asked about it and haven't gotten the paperwork and stuff completed. Those are things I can't really talk about until everybody goes through the paperwork application."
Dykes said that Cal's policy is to not allow transfers to schools within the conference that the Bears will play. Tagaloa – who a source told BearTerritory has been to Hawaii and now Arizona – will likely be able to transfer to the Wildcats because after sitting a year before he becomes eligible, Arizona and Cal will not play for the next two seasons.
Kline, however, a source told BearTerritory, intends to attend a local junior college to complete his Associate's Degree, before transferring to Oregon State – a school the Bears play every year in the Pac-12 North.
Asked if there would be an instance where he wouldn't sign a release, meaning the player would have to sit out for two years, Dykes said, "I don't really want to talk about anybody specifically, but that's pretty standard operating procedure, so I think you could apply that to people. I don't know that. No one's told me. People say things, and sometimes, they're not true, believe it or not."
Dykes was pressed, and asked what would happen if a player wanted to transfer to a school in-conference and the Bears would not sign the release allowing it to happen.
"There's an appeals process that the student-athlete can go through to get a release if we don't sign it. Again, I haven't spoken to anybody specifically about any schools. It's pure speculation," Dykes said.
Dykes also confirmed that tailback Brendan Bigelow, inside receiver Richard Rodgers, linebacker Khairi Fortt, cornerback Kameron Jackson and safety Michael Lowe have all submitted paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board in order to ascertain their prospects for the annual 200-player selection, to take place this year May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall.
The board is composed of general managers and personnel directors from a number of NFL teams, along with the directors of the NFL's two scouting combines – BLESTO and The National. The panel issues an advisory opinion on whether the player in question has the potential to be picked in the first round, as high as the second round, as high as the third round, after the third round or in no round at all. The opinion can be as specific as telling a player that he will be drafted in the third or fourth round, or the first or second round – or a first-day pick.
The consensus from NFL executives, according to BearTerritory's source, is that all players who are thinking about coming out early need to stay in school for another year, save for maybe Rodgers, who "may be a sleeper."
"It's just like a lot of juniors do across the country – they put the paperwork in to see what their status is going to be, and I think they'll make decisions when those ratings come back," said Dykes. "I would expect those ratings to come back fairly quickly, and we'll have a conversation. You always want to do what's best for the student athlete. If it all comes back that they're going to be first-round draft picks, then I would suggest that they go to the NFL. We'll sit down and talk about what's important to them and what they want to do, and we're going to try and guide them to the best decision for them and their family."
On Bigelow, specifically, one NFL source said that Bigelow was looked at before the season as an exciting prospect, particularly with an eye toward how he would do in Dykes's system. As Bigelow showed little ability to make the second man miss or find the second level of a defense after his third knee surgery, interest waned, and now, the source says, Bigelow "would be lucky to be an undrafted free agent," and would have to have a very, very good training camp to make a team.
The same source said that having spoken to several NFL player personnel people, redshirt senior Deandre Coleman is also in the likely undrafted free agent pool, and CBS Sports lists Coleman as the 17th defensive tackle, and 195th overall player in the draft.
JuCo Signing Day: Talking Draft, Defections
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