At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds at the moment, Cameron Saffle doesn’t look like a Pac-12 defensive lineman … yet.
California defensive line coach Fred Tate wants Saffle – his newest commit -- to get up to 250 pounds by this time next year.
“I don’t feel like it’ll be hard,” Saffle says. “My weight lifting is pretty good. I’ve hang-cleaned 315, bench 325, so I don’t think it’s that hard to get to that weight, so I’m excited for it, as well.”
The Bears are certainly excited for Saffle.
“That’s one of the things that’s encouraging: I asked a question to coach Kaufman of how many people they’ve offered, how many people committed, and what are the chances of me playing? The first time coach Tate, he said, ‘I have no problem playing a true freshman, if you’re healthy and you can work,’” says Saffle.
Tate did just that, this year, playing Noah Westerfield and Hamilton Anoa’i at the defensive end spots.
“I talked to coach [Art] Kaufman about their packages – they have a three-down package and a four-down package,” says Saffle. “They usually go with the four-down package, and they usually need two deep to go at each position. I asked them about their three-down package, and when they go to the three-down package, they go to a stand-up linebacker/rusher, and that was [Brennan] Scarlett. [Kaufman] said, ‘We need two guys at that position, and right now, we really don’t have that.’ That’s the position they want me at. That’s kind of encouraging. They don’t have many guys who can play that position, and that they had their eyes set on me for that, that gives me a better feeling of having a chance to play earlier in my career at Cal.”
Saffle has played outside linebacker and safety this year, though he’s not strong in coverage. He’s more of a rush end than anything, and he considers himself somewhere between an outside linebacker and a true defensive end.
“I would say I’m a little bit of both,” Saffle said. “The other schools that have offered me also talked to me about being like a BUCK or a SLAM linebacker.”
Saffle – who committed to Tate personally on his in-home visit Sunday afternoon – was drawn to Tate’s coaching style, the more and more he learned about the first-year Cal coach.
“I’ve been watching Mic’d Up on Cal, and I thought it would be cool to see what type of coach he was,” Saffle says of Tate. “When he came over, my parents asked him what kind of coaching style he had. I could see that he doesn’t just like to hear himself talk. He wants to make sure you’re doing this, doing that. He told me the biggest thing about him is technique, and that was the thing that stuck out in my mind. The big part about my game is technique. That’s the thing I’m best at, is my technique. I can read shoulders like no other.”
Saffle also spoke highly of defensive coordinator Kaufman, who saw him in person last month.
“Coach Kaufman, with him he was telling me a story about this JuCo player that he was recruiting, and he told the guy, straight-up, ‘You know, I’ll let you come down to fall camp, and I’ll see if you can play for us, and if you’re the real deal, then we’ll keep you, and if you’re not the real deal, I’ll tell you straight to your face,’” says Saffle. “They’ll tell you the honest truth, but they’ll give you the opportunity if they feel like you can produce.”