BTC: Porchivina Can Do it All

Is John Porchivina better than Elijah Qualls in the backfield? Petaluma (Calif.) Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog talks in-depth about the Bears' newest commit, plus how Andy Buh and Tony Franklin were able to pull off the flip.

HIGHLIGHTS: Porchivina Offense and Defense Flash Plays

Petaluma (Calif.) Casa Grande head coach Trent Herzog calls John Porchivina -- who flipped to California from Fresno State on Sunday – the running back you get once in a career. This is coming from the coach that once had Elijah Qualls in his backfield.

"He's a better overall runner," Herzog said of Porchivina. "Elijah's just a freak of an athlete, and Elijah's size is unbelievable, but Porch has the strength, the size and the speed to break away. Elijah was just an athlete you get only once in a lifetime, but Porch might be the running back I get once in a lifetime. Porch is an excellent running back – size, speed, strength, breakaway, catching the ball, he can run – he was also our leading receiver."

The Golden Bears will sign Porchivina – a former linebacker commit to the Bulldogs -- as a running back/athlete, and all because of the tag team of Andy Buh and Tony Franklin.

"Andy Buh called me right after our season, around the middle of December," Herzog says. "He said, ‘We really, really like him. We just got his updated film. Franklin's really intrigued with him as a running back, and we really don't have a big back. To run that way and do the things he does, we really think he can fill some spots for us.'"

After multiple visits to Berkeley during the spring, Porchivina did not have an offer from Cal. His junior film just wasn't good enough. After seeing Porchivina's senior film, however, the staff got a little bit excited.

Buh asked for Porchivina's transcripts in the middle of December, and he and Herzog talked three times from that point until the first of the year. The day before Buh was demoted from defensive coordinator, he received Porchivina's transcripts, with one exception: His fall semester of his senior year.

It took several more days before Herzog was able to get back to Casa Grande – since the school wasn't yet in session – and send the final piece of the transcript. Then, four or five anxious days later, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin called.

"Tony Franklin calls me, and says, ‘Hey, we got his transcripts. Everything's good, we want to offer him.' I said, ‘Are you sure? I don't want to get this kid excited. He's already committed to Fresno. He doesn't know anything about an offer coming; he doesn't even know I've been talking to you guys. Are you sure?'" Herzog says. "He said, ‘Coach, let me make sure. Coach Dykes is at the coaching convention, and I'll call him tonight to make sure.' I said, ‘You'd better be, because if you guys offer, he's going to commit, and if he takes his trip down there, Fresno State's probably going to pull their offer, so I don't want to screw this up for the kid.' He said, ‘I understand. You're doing it the right way.'"

Shortly, Franklin called back and said, "He has an offer, no matter what."

The first question out of Herzog's mouth was: Where is the offer at?

Porchivina had committed to the Bulldogs in late December as a linebacker, and other schools had either offered him there or had shown interest, including several Pac-12 schools.

"I want him at running back," Franklin told Herzog. "There are a lot of things he can do: He can run, he can block, he can catch."

Herzog says of Porchivina that "he's not just a big back. He can run an electronic 4.6 40."

He can also carry four defenders on his back and into the end zone.

"He had seven or eight touchdowns of over 80 yards," Herzog said. "The kid can flat-out run, and I think he's getting stereotyped a little bit."

Yes, Porchivina is, to put it bluntly, a big, hulking whit kid at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, that doesn't mean he's slow. He runs hard, doesn't go down easily and has a little bit of giddy up when he needs it.

"Tony Franklin said, ‘I want him as a running back,' and I said, ‘OK, so the offer's at running back?' He goes, ‘Right now, the offer's at running back,'" says Herzog. "Even when Buh was recruiting him, he was recruiting him as a running back."

Franklin told Herzog that, because the defensive coordinator had yet to be named at that point, Porchivina would be offered as a running back/athlete, "just in case."

"If me and the new defensive coordinator have to fight over him," Franklin told Herzog, "then I'm willing to fight."

While Porchivina would rather play running back, if the Bears move him to linebacker, he'll be just fine with that.

"He was the defensive player of the year in our area, he was a San Francisco Chronicle First-Team player, so he can play either-or, and he'll be a hell of a special teams player, too," Herzog says. "The four or five times I've talked to Franklin, he's said that he wants him, and it's not just how people make comments that he's a big bone back or whatever. His updated film is 30 plays – flash plays – 15 plays on offense, 15 plays on defense, and they're just phenomenal. He was probably the biggest part of our championship run."

Porchivina finished the season with 1,681 yards on 187 carries (averaging 8.99 yards per carry), with 20 rushing touchdowns, hauled in 24 catches for 321 yards and five touchdowns, tallied 87 tackles and 15.0 tackles for loss, 11.0 sacks, three interceptions returned for 96 yards, one fumble recovery, four forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.

After Porchivina's visit to Berkeley this weekend, it didn't take him long to pull the trigger, and now, he's the newest member of the 2014 recruiting class.

"He was just intrigued with the Cal offer," says Herzog. "He talked to coach Franklin about three times this week, and coach Franklin said, ‘We'd love to have you come down. We know you're committed to Fresno, but we'd still like you to come out and trip.' His thing was, he wanted to talk to coach Dykes, and make sure, hey, ‘What do I need to do to make sure I get in?' They just said, ‘Show an upward trend and keep your grades going and getting better and better. Don't take the rest of the year off, and you'll be in.' Cal's really watching who they offer and what they can offer, with what happened to coach Tedford and the whole APR thing. They're not just going to offer a kid just because he's a great football player." Top Stories