As BearTerritory predicted on Friday, California finished off this weekend's non-contact camp with a big offer, as Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd linebacker Camilo Eifler hauled in his second scholarship, following his first from Colorado.
"Sunday, after our last seven-on-seven competition – we actually won; we beat the Bears, and I had a touchdown, so I was pretty excited about that, and a couple pass deflections – so, basically, after the game, coach [Art] Kaufman came up to me, and said he wanted to meet my mother," Eifler said. "He wanted to talk to me, downstairs. We went down there, and he was with coach Garret [Chachere], the linebackers coach, and we talked about my personal life, where I was from, what middle school, high school and what I thought about playing football."
[VIDEO: Eifler Impresses at Camp]
This past season – Eifler's sophomore campaign – was the first he's ever played competitive football at any level, and he wouldn't be playing for the Dragons – or have the opportunity to go to school for free – were it not for Bishop O'Dowd's head basketball coach, Lou Richie, the coach of one of the Cal basketball team's prime targets in five-star hoopster Ivan Rabb.
"After freshman year, a lot of coaches, just looking at my size, said, ‘We need him on the football team,'" Eifler said. "My mom was like, ‘No, you can't go play football,' because I'd missed a summer practice, and she wanted me to focus on grades, and then do basketball or run track, so that's what I did. The basketball coach, coach Lou Richie, he's one of my mentors, and I look up to him. He points me in the right direction. He sat down with my mom and said that I should think about playing football. I sat down with him, as well as coach Hardy [Nickerson], and sophomore year, I tried out for football."
Richie – a former All-ACC basketball player at Clemson – also went to graduate school at Cal in 2008, and is just one of several major Bears connections for Eifler, who played his first season under Dragons head coach – and former Cal linebacker -- Hardy Nickerson.
"He was a good coach. I was going to play linebacker, last year, but a senior got hurt, and I ended up playing defensive end. I learned a lot playing D-line, and now, I can see the offensive line's techniques, and I can apply that at the linebacker position," Eifler said. "He was a great coach. He had a lot to teach at the linebacker position. He taught me how to do drops, and he had a lot of stories about him playing at Cal, and in the NFL, as well. He had a whole lot to teach us. Also, before that, on a couple weekends, this last year, I was working out with his son, [current Bears MIKE linebacker] Hardy, Jr. He also had a couple pointers to teach me. They both helped guide me through the first year of football."
Eifler came out for spring football a year ago, and, by his own admission, didn't know much.
"I didn't know the plays or what to do, but on offense, I was doing alright; I didn't have that much hand-eye coordination, but I got used to it," Eifler said. "So, I played defensive line, and I played pretty well, but linebacker, I didn't know enough to play that, yet. I had a couple seniors coaching me up in the secondary. I was fast, but there was just a lot to learn, so coaches stuck me at defensive end, because I was really good at pass rushing."
So, to recap: In the past calendar year, Eifler has learned the game of football, and become natural enough at it to score two Pac-12 scholarship offers going into his junior season. Fast learner.
"It's a blessing," Eifler said.
His three days on the Cal campus as a camper have helped his development quite a bit, in his estimation, which could very well help down the road, once it's time to start getting into the recruiting game full-bore.
"I got a great vibe from the Cal coaches," Eifler said. "Since Friday, I think they knew that they were kind of looking at me. It was just a great vibe with the coaches up there. There was so much energy. From the players there, there were a lot of SoCal, people from all over California. I met a whole bunch of new friends. The staff did a great job, as did the players. They were hilarious. Great coaches, great athletes, telling me what to do, giving me great pointers. It was just great to hang out with them."
The staff liked what it saw out of Eifler from Day One. He brought in one of the top SPARQ scores from the NFTC event in Hayward, Calif., last month, and showed good first-step quickness during camp, breaking well on the ball and showing an ability to cover sideline to sideline.
"What stood out was my size and athleticism," Eifler said of what the staff told him. "They liked my flexibility in my hips, how they're able to bend, which is a great asset at linebacker. I pursue the running back in the backfield, things like that. Also, speed. I had a 9-foot-10 broad jump. I weighed in at 206 pounds, 6-2 with shoes, 6-1 without shoes."
At the SPARQ testing, he ran a 4.7-second electronically-timed 40-yard dash, and turned in a 39.7-inch vertical leap. As a track athlete, Eifler does high jump, shot put and discus.
"They had me throwing because I was one of the stronger guys on the team," Eifler said. "I could have run, and I'm going to run next season. I want to run. It'll help out my form and it'll translate to the field."
Eifler made it to the NCS Meet of Champions in the shot put on May 30 -- one level away from the state championships – and finished seventh, four spots behind Kahlil McKenzie, with a personal-best 48' 10.5" put, surpassing his previous personal best by over nine inches.
"I have a great track coach, coach [Tony] Green – he's one of California's best," Eifler said. "Our head coach, Jamal Cooks, was at Skyline before, and he's really good."
This next season will be Eifler's first under new head coach Napoleon Kaufman, who will take over for Nickerson, Sr., who became Lovie Smith's linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jan. 7, 2014.
"He's going to coach me up," Eifler said. "We have a whole new coaching staff at Bishop O'Dowd, which is great. They'll teach me all the things I need to know, and I'm more than willing to learn, go into the season and take my team really far into the playoffs."
Eifler Doesn't Need Beginner's Luck
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