SIGNING DAY CHAT
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Some quick hits:
Top Three: Carlos Strickland, Lonny Powell, Russell Ude
Dark Horses: DePriest Turner, Billy McCrary
Need Development: Cameron Saffle, Ryan Gibson, Patrick Mekari
Immediate Impact: Derron Brown, DeVante Wilson
OL (3): Ryan Gibson, Patrick Mekari, Semisi Uluave
WR (6): Carlos Strickland, Brandon Singleton, Kanawai Noa, Billy McCrary, Greyson Bankhead, Austin Aaron
QB (1): Ross Bowers
RB (1): Lonny Powell
DL (6): DeVante Wilson, Cameron Saffle, Trevor Howard, Russell Ude, Zeandae Johnson, Luc Bequette
DB (5): DePriest Turner, Antoine Albert, Derron Brown, Evan Rambo, Malik Psalms
P/PK (1): Dylan Klumph
Throughout the day, we’ll be updating each player slot with the time their National Letter of Intent (or scholarship agreement, as it applies) gets faxed into Memorial Stadium. For the purposes of this first look, we’ve classified commit Keith Washington as a ‘Question Mark,’ along with other uncommitted players, as there’s been word that Washington is headed to Michigan. We’re hearing that this list could very well change during the course of the days with subtractions and/or an addition or two (or even three), so stay tuned!
UPDATE 6:40 AM: Keith Washington has signed with Michigan.
"I've grown up in blue and gold." – Austin Aaron
The Skinny on Aaron: Our Brandon Huffman went in-depth on what Aaron’s commitment – the first of the 2015 cycle – meant for Sonny Dykes and the California football program right HERE. Our scouting report: Aaron is one of the more polished route runners you'll find in the region, with great size and length, soft hands and above average speed. Has very good body control and adjusts to passes well and isn't afraid to go over the middle. Can play inside as a Y or split out wide. Doesn't have blazing speed, but is fast enough.
BT’s Take: Aaron is an ideal replacement for a Darius Powe or a Stephen Anderson. He has great size, athleticism and hands. He’s also got a very high motor and is a highly motivated individual both on the field and in the classroom. He’s a third-generation Golden Bear, so putting on the uniform means a lot to him. He’ll take pride in it. As a tall receiver, he’ll have a very good match in new receivers coach Pierre Ingram, so it’ll be fun to see him develop. In another age, he may have been a tight end, but staying around the 200-210-pound range is really ideal to keep him speedy for those match-ups with safeties and linebackers in the second level.
Beyond the Commitment: The Golden Child
Beyond the Commitment: Coming for Stars
Related Story: Aaron Becomes First Commit
VIDEO: Aaron Balls Out at Passing Down
VIDEO: Making an Impression
VIDEO: Austin Aaron Video Vault
"I’ve always loved Cal, since high school." – Antoine Albert
The Skinny on Albert: Antoine Albert was originally set to come in and compete for a starting cornerback job this spring, but one of his classes from Diablo Valley College didn’t transfer. That said, he’ll still be around the team this spring, whenever he can be, though he won’t be a part of spring workouts. Albert is a heady, 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive back, and brings a lot of size – and a love for contact – to the Cal defensive secondary – something the Bears have lacked for some time.
Albert is afflicted with a severe stutter, but he lets his play on the field do the talking. For more on Albert’s struggles and triumphs, read the feature below.
Albert is the No. 66 overall JuCo player in the nation in our Scout JuCo Top 100 rankings. Albert – who has a 4.5-second 40 time -- chose the Bears on Dec. 18 over offers from Arizona, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oregon State, Tennessee and Washington State, among others.
Albert is an alum of Marshawn Lynch’s alma mater: Oakland Tech. At Diablo Valley College, he played safety, corner, defensive end and linebacker.
Sonny’s Take: “It was important to address our needs at cornerback and we added a player today in Antoine Albert that gives us both size and length at that position. The thing that stands out most with him is that he’s a physical player.”
Feature Plus Highlights: Antoine Albert Has a Story to Tell
"Trust me: I’ll be getting open." – Greyson Bankhead
The Skinny on Bankhead from West Coast Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins: Bankhead is one of the state's top receivers and had a big junior year catching 73 balls for 1,045 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's more quick than fast but has great hands and body control. He can really explode in and out of his breaks, has an incredible catch radius and runs well after the catch. The receiver should fit in very well in Cal's pass happy offense and has a chance to catch a ton of balls for the Bears in the coming years.
He does a nice job making 1 or 2 guys miss and getting up the field. He's not the biggest receiver but is tough and isn't afraid to over the middle. He'll make the tough catch in traffic and will take a big shot without flinching.
BT’s Take: I saw Bankhead during the playoffs against Gardena (Calif.) Serra, and there is no question that he’s a fit for this offense. He is not the biggest receiver on the field – by a lot – but he’s got plus speed, quickness, shiftiness and very good ball skills. In my opinion, he’s best suited to the slot, but he can be just as good as a downfield threat, as he was this season for Corona (Calif.) Centennial.
VIDEO: Bankhead Hauls in Two TDs
Scout Spotlight: Greyson Bankhead
Related Story: Bankhead Talks Pop-A-Shot on Official Visit
Related Story: Bankhead Headed to Berkeley
Beyond the Commitment: Greyson Bankhead
The Skinny on Bequette: Bequette could very well be headed elsewhere. At the time of this article, he’s still committed to the Bears, but if he gets an offer to Florida, he may very well follow former Cal commit Nick Buchanan and one-time silent Chris Williamson to Gainesville. This is one to stay tuned to.
UPDATE 5:41 AM: Bequette has tweeted that he's a Bear. Officially out of the question mark area, and into signees.
BT’s Take: Bequette has a lot of athleticism in his family. His mother was the bronze medalist in the 1988 Winter Olympics, and his father, grandfather, uncle and cousin played football at Arkansas. He also has played baseball, and wrestles. He’s big, strong, powerful and flexible.
With his background in multiple sports, Bequette has quick feet, a powerful lower half and plays with good leverage as an offensive center. He keeps his feet churning and locks out well, pushing defenders back up field. On defense – both at defensive end and tackle – he’s shown a persistent motor playing snap to whistle, and again, keeps his feet moving. The most notable aspect of Bequette’s highlights is that he maintains his quickness and athleticism at a variety of weights and positions, including long snapping.
Beyond the Commitment: Full Scouting Report and More
Related Story: Visit Firms Up Cal Commitment
Related Story: Bequette Goes Whole Hog With Bears
"I’m trying to win a Rose Bowl. That’s going to be a thing." – Ross Bowers
The Skinny on Bowers from Brandon Huffman: I've seen Bowers play in person about eight times in the last three years, and compared to the first game I saw him as a sophomore to his state championship winning game as a senior, the arc he's continued to go up has been evident. He's become more of a passer than a thrower- he makes good passes consistently and isn't making low percentage throws anymore. He has shown much more pocket poise than earlier in his career and taking what the defense gives rather than forcing passes as he used to. His arm is still good, but now he's not trying to just rifle everything, he's being smarter and wiser through his progressions.
BT’s Take: Bowers is already on campus as an early-enrollee, and gives Cal a more traditional option behind starter Jared Goff than run-first Luke Rubenzer. If there’s a logical successor to Goff, i.e. a player who can do the same sorts of things and is a similar style, it’s Bowers. He’s not quite as tall as Goff, but he’s got the maturity and the arm to step in and make an impact once Goff’s time at Cal is done.
Bowers, like Luke Rubenzer, was an Elite 11 finalist, and earned MVP honors at the Oregon Nike Football Training Camp.
Bowers’s mother is the current women’s gymnastics head coach at Washington, and his father is on the football staff at James Madison.
Sonny’s Take: “We are excited to have Ross join the Cal football program. He’s exactly what we are looking for in a quarterback. He has shown great leadership and does all the things we want a quarterback to do. We’re excited about his future and what he will bring to our program. We’re also excited that he will join our team in January and be able to start learning the offense and get into the mix at the quarterback position.”
IN-DEPTH: Bowers Talks Flip, Visit
Related Story: Washington Top 20
VIDEO: Bowers vs. Mercer Island
VIDEO VAULT: Bowers Signs With Cal
PHOTOS: The Opening Photo Gallery
VIDEO: The Opening Highlights of Ross Bowers
Related Story: Commitment Analysis
Beyond the Commitment: Ross Bowers is More Than Tape
Related Story: Bowers Commits
National Story: Bowers Headed to Pac-12
Related Story: Bowers Falls in Love with Cal on Visit
Elite 11 VIDEO: Bowers Talks Cal
Related Story: Junior Evaluation
"Cal will help me excel in many areas of my life, especially the classroom and on the field." – Derron Brown
The Skinny on Brown: An early enrollee, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Brown will help out immediately to boost the depth and fortunes of the worst passing defense in all of college football. Brown prepped at Laveen (Ariz.) Fairfax, but is an Oakland, Calif., native.
Brown posted a strong junior campaign at Fairfax, in which he was named a first-team Arizona Central All-State selection. He recorded 46 tackles and five interceptions that he returned for 178 yards to go along with three pass breakups and one fumble recovery for a team that finished 7-4 overall, 4-3 in II Section I games and reached the first round of the AIA state playoffs.
He added 1,097 all-purpose yards as a junior with 23 receptions for 667 yards and a 29.0 yards per reception average with nearly half (11) of his receptions going for scores and two rushes for 12 yards, as well as eight kick returns for 223 yards (27.9 ypr) including a 95-yard touchdown against Kellis, one punt return for 17 yards and one blocked punt on special teams.
Brown also ran track (100 meters, 4x100 meters) and was on the Phoenix Union High School District winning 4x100 meter team (43.18) as a 2014 senior.
Brown missed his senior season due to injury, and headed to Mesa, where he earned second-team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference honors as a true freshman in 2014, recording 48 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, three interceptions and three pass breakups in nine games played, tying for the team lead in each category other than tackles and interceptions for a squad that finished 5-5 overall and 4-4 in the ACCAC.
Sonny’s Take: “Derron gives us an athletic safety that is physical, has good length, and can run sideline to sideline and make plays. He’s also a good tackler.”
Ryan Felker, HC at Mesa Community College: “We loved him earlier in high school as a receiver. He has great hands and ball skills. But he has just great upside as a DB.”
Chenelle Jones, Mesa Community College Defensive Coordinator: “Derron’s a very good football player. His ceiling is really high. I think he’s going to be a very good Pac-12 football player. He has a chance to be one of those elite players in the top echelon of the conference. I think the best part of his transition to Pac-12 ball is being able to come into Cal in the spring to learn the system and get adjusted. He’ll be able to do whatever Cal needs him to do, whether it’s hit somebody or cover somebody. The sky’s the limit for this kid.”
Brown will have four years to play three.
"I visited Cal for the second time, and I knew. I knew it was the place." – Ryan Gibson
The Skinny on Gibson from Analyst Chad Simmons: What jumps out right away about Gibson is his toughness and his attitude. He loves to finish blocks and put the opposing player on his back. Played tackle in high school, but will slide inside in college. Fires off the ball well, has shown he can drive his opponent off the ball, and he has nice bend.
BT’s Take: Gibson has been one of the strongest, most secure commits, even in the face of Zach Yenser leaving for Kansas. Gibson, Aaron, Trevor Howard and Malik Psalms are in a class all their own when it comes to the strength and depth of their commitments, but only Gibson has actually traveled to a road game – the win over Northwestern – on his own dime. Gibson’s body can use a little work. He’s got a good frame to start, but he’s got some bad weight. That said, eh plays well with a low center of gravity. Bringing in Gibson, Patrick Mekari and potentially Semisi Uluave means Cal is bringing in three interior bodies, but Gibson is probably the one who’s destined for center.
Gibson is also close with a tight end the Bears covet in the class of 2017, and has a GPA over 4.0.
Related Story: Gibson Talks In-Home, New Coach
Related Story: Recruits React to Coaching Changes
Beyond the Commitment: Gibson Just Knew
Related Story: Busy Weekend Pays Off With Commitment
Related Story: Gibson Starts West Coast Swing in Berkeley
Related Story: Bears Offer Academic All-Star
"Their program is on the rise, they have nowhere to go but up." – Trevor Howard
The Skinny on Howard from Brandon Huffman: Howard is one of the more versatile players in the state and could be used in a variety of ways in college. He plays linebacker, defensive end and tight end at the H.S level and has the ability to play any of the three positions for the Bears. He has a linebacker frame, but is very strong and is a natural pass rusher.
Greg Biggins’s Take: At the SoCal NIKE Camp back in March, he dominated the one-on-one drills working out with the defensive ends. He showed a great burst off the line, a variety of pass rush moves and violent hands. He has a great motor and plays with a consistent effort. He's a plus athlete as well and has the ability to run down plays from behind and shows excellent closing speed. He also looked very good catching the ball as a tight end during the spring/summer 7v7 circuit and could easily fill an offensive role at the next level if needed.
BT’s Take: Howard – who’s trained with and learned from former Cal and NFL defensive end Andre Carter -- has gotten even bigger and stronger since his season prematurely ended with a torn ACL, and it won’t be long before he sees the field. He’s way ahead of schedule on rehab, and even if he has to redshirt this year, coaches think he can be every bit as dominant as Brennan Scarlett has been when he’s been healthy. Expect Howard to step into Scarlett’s shoes once he leaves, whether it be sooner or later.
Related Story: Howard Learns True Meaning of Cal Family
Related Story: Howard Talks Mekari Commit, Official Visit
Related Story: Howard Suffers Knee Injury
Expert Opinion: Scouting Howard
Beyond the Commitment: Trevor Howard
Related Story: Howard Pulls the Trigger
Camp: Flattery Will Get You Everywhere
Related Story: Bears Strike First for Howard
"To be honest, I’m ready to go out there already and get started." – Zeandae Johnson
The Skinny on Johnson from Greg Biggins: Johnson is a massive kid that could end up on either side of the ball. He's a skilled TE with good hands and is a load to bring down in the open field. He's runs well for a big man and should be a nice third down and red zone weapon. He's also a very solid and willing blocker.
Defensively, Johnson plays as an end but has the size to move inside and play as a tackle if needed. He's a very strong, powerful kid who can get up the field and shows a nice motor to him.
BT’s Take: Big Z, as he’s called, started this cycle as a lightly-regarded tight end, and that’s where I first saw him during the 7-on-7 circuit. As soon as I saw his body type, I told him he’d be better served focusing on defensive end, and that’s exactly what he did. He ended it with Jim Harbaugh and Michigan calling in to try and flip his commitment, wanting his big body as a tight end.
Johnson’s experience as a tight end will help him greatly as a defensive end. He’s long and athletic, without being too lean. He plays a little high, which is no surprise given his height, but he shows a lot of power and strength and is a real load to block. He’s not going to be your pass rushing defensive end, but he’ll hold point very well on the strong side against fullbacks and tight ends, at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds with a 4.66 40 time.
Johnson has very quick feet on both sides of the ball and is much more nimble than his size would suggest. He’s also got long arms that can wreak havoc on passing lanes. He uses those long arms to defeat blocks This is the perfect instance of the staff seeing an athlete with mostly offensive highlights and putting him on the defensive side of the ball – something the Bears needed to do during this recruiting cycle to shore up a porous defense.
As an end, his highlights show that he changes direction very quickly, and he plays with a lot of patience, letting a play develop. He also shows some very disciplined eyes on zone-read plays and isn’t often fooled by trickery at the mesh point.
Related Story: Johnson Feels Like Family on Visit
Beyond the Commitment: Zeandae Johnson
Related Story: Bears Add Big Z
Related Story: Passing Down Recruiting Notebook
"I will be fighting for the starting job, and hopefully, I'll be seeing the field." – Dylan Klumph
The Skinny on Klumph: With the graduation of big-legged James Langford, and the inexperience of Noah Beito and Matt Anderson, Klumph is coming in with the potential to take over on kickoffs, and he’s also coming in to be an understudy to Cole Leininger as a punter. He averaged over 40 yards per punt in his only year at Huntington Beach (Calif.) Golden West College, and at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he’s got a lot of power in those gams. He has four years to play three, and there’s certainly the potential for him to redshirt, but that’s not what he’s planning on.
It’s also worth mentioning that he’s good friends with fellow Encino (Calif.) Crespi grads Chris Harper (leaving for the NFL) and linebacker Ray Davison.
Related Story: Klumph Talks Commitment
"Bottom line, they want me to get the ball in my hands." – Billy McCrary
The Skinny on McCrary from Gabe Brooks, Midlands Analyst: McCrary measured 5-foot-11, 187 pounds at the Dallas Nike Football SPARQ Combine at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, last May. He's a solidly built player who could probably play inside receiver or defensive back at the next level. McCrary tested through the roof at that combine, recording a SPARQ score of 125.73, which was fourth of 1,731 athletes at the event. The guy who finished one spot ahead of him was North Little Rock (Ark.) High's K.J. Hill, a Scout four-star receiver and U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant. A few of the players McCrary tested better than that day were five-star 2015 running back Sotonye Jamabo, four-star 2016 linebacker McKinley Mitchell, four-star 2015 running back Jordan Stevenson, and 2016 four-star receiver Devin Duvernay. McCrary ran a laser-timed 4.48-second 40, which was sixth overall. He also ran an impressive 4.14-second pro agility and leapt 40.8 inches in the vertical, which was good for third of the more than 1,700 participants.
Another Take from Midlands Manager Greg Powers: I saw him in camp action, and he is a guy who has an exciting level of short burst explosion. He runs good routes and makes plays.
BT’s Take: McCrary came recommended to the Bears from none other than Spike Dykes – father of Cal’s head coach Sonny, and a coaching legend in his own right. His biggest weapon – like Bankhead and Noa – is his speed. As noted above, he’s an elite athlete. Just one tiny issue, from my perspective: He’s 5-foot-11. He’s well-muscled enough that he’s been able to play both ways with plenty of strength, and his 4.38 40 time certainly sticks out, and as a receiver, he’s very tough to bring down in space.
At first blush, he looks a lot like Bryce McGovern and Matt Rockett, but it’s the speed that separates him, and, frankly, makes him tough to really project. Making that task even more difficult is the fact that he played mostly quarterback this season, completing 55 of 125 passes for 799 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions, and toting the rock 163 times for 866 yards and five touchdowns.
Coaches told the former SMU commit that he’d be able to try both safety and receiver, but my bet is that he ends up as a slot guy.
Beyond the Commitment: The Set and the Spike
Related Story: Speedy McCrary Commits
Dallas NFTC: SPARQ Stnadouts
"I couldn’t be happier to go to the No. 1 public school in the world, to follow in my brother’s footsteps. It’s remarkable." – Patrick Mekari
The Skinny on Mekari: I saw Mekari in person at the satellite camp down in Fullerton, Calif., and he’s certainly got his brother Tony’s motor. There weren’t very many Pac-12-sized defensive tackles that he went against, though, and he mainly used his size to overpower them, which he does in his high school film, as well. He’s going to take some tinkering, to be sure, and, like Gibson, his body is going to need to get better. He’s carrying around some bad weight right now, and needs to redistribute it. If he slims down in the middle and bulks up his lower half, he could be a very serviceable interior lineman, particularly under the tutelage of Brandon Jones, who should be able to lower Mekari’s pad level and help him play with leverage, like his older brother does on the defensive side of the ball.
Mekari’s been told that he’ll work at center, but there’s a wealth of guys at the position as it stands, with Jordan Rigsbee having a load of experience, along with Matt Cochran. Addison Ooms will definitely push to be the starter after the departure of Chris Adcock. Since Mekari’s played center at Westlake, his footwork is tough to really peg down one way or another, in his highlights, which is a problem if he moves to guard, and an even bigger concern if the 6-foot-5 body gets moved to tackle.
At camp, though, he showed up in lacrosse shape, which leads me to believe he’s absolutely capable of transforming his body, particularly with a college strength program. He also proved to be eminently coachable, and did get his pad level down to where he was able to use more leverage and really drop his hind end.
Mekari earned Co-Lineman of the Year for the Marmonte League, and was previously committed to Utah State. When Johnny Capra left for Utah, he was a natural offer. If Capra and Nick Buchanan stay on board, Mekari probably doesn’t get his offer, but I think he’s a value-add.
One thing that’s not in doubt is the fact that Mekari – again, like his brother – has one hell of a motor. He really engages defensive linemen, but at times will reach, and that makes him over-extend (again, leverage is key in blocking) and get out over his skis, which won’t work at the next level. But, the one thing you can’t coach is aggression, and he has that in spades.
Related Story: Mekari Joins Brother, Commits to Cal
Related Story: Howard Talks Mekari’s Commitment
Related Story: Scouting Mekari at SoCal Camp
"My greatest strength is probably my yards after catch." – Kanawai Noa
The Skinny on Noa from Doug Kimmel: Noa is not a burner, in terms of speed, but Cal will never have deficiency in perimeter speed. He is a guy that can play out of the slot and is a tremendous possession receiver. Noa has been running advanced routes at Punahou for years now, he comes in and out of his breaks crisply and wastes no movement on the football field. He is a reliable target that along with his crisp routes has strong hands.
Read more from Kimmel in his Commitment Analysis.
BT’s Take: Noa is one of the most productive wide receivers in the history of Hawaii prep football. Last season, he recorded 58 catches for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdown catches, adding three more scores as a kickoff and punt returner. Noa’s career numbers are mind-boggling. He’s hauled in 146 balls for 3,195 yards, with 34 receiving touchdowns and 37 total scores, averaging 127.8 yards per game and 21.9 yards per catch.
Noa is a dynamic playmaker from anywhere on the field, but he projects as a slot receiver. My prediction is that he takes over for Bryce Treggs on the inside, providing a speedy downfield threat that can create mismatches against linebackers and safeties with his speed. He’s a bit light at 175 pounds, but if he adds about 10 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame, he could be very, very dangerous, particularly in a tempo offense.
Scout Spotlight: Kanawai Noa
Related Story: Noa Talks Cal Offer, Official Visit
Related Story: Noa Focused on Winning
"I eat Skittles, before games, like he does." – Lonny Powell, on Marshawn Lynch
The Skinny on Powell: Christened by new outside receivers coach – and former running backs coach -- Pierre Ingram as Beast Mode Part 2 (or BEASTMODE 2.0), Powell is already on campus as an early-enrollee.
Powell is an absolute animal. He plays running back like a linebacker. He loves contact, but doesn’t go out of his way just to hit people. During the Semper Fidelis All-American practice, it would regularly take three to four defenders to halt his forward progress. He had just one negative-yardage play once the game itself came around, and that was largely because the line in front of him wasn’t very stout. Like his hero Lynch, he always falls forward to make yards, and he’s got a sneaky-quick burst that allows him to turn off-center hits into momentum.
From 2012-14, Powell’s Sacramento (Calif.) Dragons went 29-9 overall, and 18-3 in Metropolitan League play. On offense, he posted career totals of 1,763 rushing yards on 185 carries for a 9.8 yard average and 19 TDs over 38 games, while adding 1,068 receiving yards on 62 catches and 19 TD receptions. Over his final two seasons as a linebacker, he totaled 213 tackles, 74.0 tackles for loss, 45.0 sacks (-304 yards), two interceptions that he returned 30 yards, three pass breakups, seven fumble recoveries, eight forced fumbles and 27 quarterback hurries.
Powell earned All-Sac-Joaquin Section, first-team All-Metro (Sacramento Bee) and Metropolitan League Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior, and was a Semper Fidelis All-American. In the Semper Fi game in Carson, Calif., on Jan. 4, Powell had 43 all-purpose yards tonight on about 12 touches.
His defensive stats from a hybrid defensive end/linebacker position were highlighted by totals of 22.0 sacks, 36.0 tackles for loss and 95 tackles. He also added 969 all-purpose yards on offense for a team that finished 10-3 overall and reached the semifinals of the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, rushing 65 times for 555 yards and seven touchdowns while making 20 catches for 414 yards and 10 scores.
Powell posted his biggest prep numbers on both offense (85 carries, 951 rushing yards, 10 TD; 1,206 all-purpose yards) and defense (118 tackles, 23.0 sacks, 38.0 TFL) as a 2013 junior when he was a second-team All-State Underclass selection by Cal-Hi Sports and earned the first of back-to-back Metropolitan League Defensive Player of the Year honors for a team that finished 11-3 overall and reached the finals of the section playoffs.
Sonny’s Take: “We’re excited about Lonny and his future at Cal, and we’re excited that he is a part of our program. Lonny has done a great job in being able to graduate early from high school. He is coming to Cal as a running back but is a unique athlete who was a really productive player on both sides of the football in high school. Lonny brings toughness, strength and a strong work ethic to our program.”
Related Story: In-Depth with Powell at Semper Fi, Plus VIDEO
SEMPER FI VIDEO: Lonny Powell Game Film
Semper Fi: Day Three West Offense Top Five
Semper Fi: Powell Powers Through
Related Story: Powell Talks Cal Commitment
"The education is the best part." – Malik Psalms
The Skinny on Psalms: Cal’s second commit of the 2015 class was the first herald of what could very well be a top-to-bottom shake-up of the defensive backfield. He’s been on campus nine times during this cycle, so he’s as familiar with the program as any recruit. That’s already given him a lot of ammo when it comes to recruiting 7-on-7 teammate and 2016 four-star middle linebacker Lokeni Toailoa.
Psalms took the rare Thursday-Saturday official visit last month, in order to play in the B2G West Coast Bowl, but still helped to close Brandon Singleton and – perhaps -- Jaylinn Hawkins with a low-pressure approach. Psalms was a fixture in Berkeley during the 2014 season, and he’s champing at the bit to get on the field.
Psalms finished his senior season with five carries for 93 yards and one touchdown, and five catches for 91 yards on offense. On defense, he tallied 32 tackles and 1.0 tackle for loss, but no picks, as teams largely threw away from him.
He maintained a 3.7 GPA through his junior year, and picked Cal over Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, Utah State and Washington.
Related Story: Psalms Does Work During, After Official
Recruit Reaction: Psalms Talks Fight Night
Related Story: Does UW Offer Change Things for Cal Commit?
Related Story: Psalms Goes In-Depth
Beyond the Commitment: Talk with McClure Seals the Deal
Related Story: Psalms Pulls the Trigger
Related Story: Psalms More than Familiar With Cal
"I just can’t wait for that atmosphere." – Evan Rambo
The Skinny on Rambo from Greg Biggins: Rambo is an intriguing prospect with great length and some nice athleticism. He's all of 6-3, pushing 6-4 but actually plays some corner and that's where he would like to start out of Cal.
Safety will probably be his best long-term position, especially when he fills out and grows in to his body. He's a physical player who doesn't shy away from contact. He has good ball skills from his days playing receiver, which makes him a prime candidate to play free safety with all that size and range.
BT’s Take: As a junior, Rambo was a dual threat quarterback who threw for 963 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 569 yards and 10 more scores. He also had 51 tackles and picked off four passes while playing safety.
A former San Diego State commit, Rambo flipped based on the fact that he knew the Bears would need help immediately in the defensive backfield. At 6-foot-3, Rambo is the tallest of the five defensive back commits, and that length should translate into early playing time.
After playing quarterback, he solidified himself as a defensive player as a senior, to the point where one high school coach who saw him play during summer passing leagues and during the season said that he would be able to “play immediately” once he got onto campus in the fall.
If I had to guess (and I wrote this before I got Greg’s scouting report) I’d say Rambo winds up as a safety. His size is best suited there, and he can use his high football IQ to read the entire field. It will also allow him to use his instincts from being a quarterback, as he tracks shoulders, eyes and reads.
Related Story: Rambo Breaks Down Cal Trip, Treggs Connection
Related Story: Rambo Talks Official
Beyond the Commitment: Rambo Ready to Get to Work
Beyond the Commitment: Rambo Calls Commitment Surreal
Related Story: Rambo Excited to be a Bear
Related Story: Rambo Commits to Kick Off Big Game Week
Related Story: Rambo Snags First Pac-12 Offer
"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." – Cameron Saffle
The Skinny on Saffle from Brandon Huffman: Saffle was on his way to being one of the top linebackers in the West in the 2015 class before an ACL injury his sophomore year slowed him down. He came along nicely as a junior and senior and he showed no major ill effects of the injury. It did take a little of his fluidity away and now he’s more likely to be a pure pass rusher with the occasional drop into coverage, instead of being more of a pure cover linebacker. He’s also put on more weight and gotten thicker to allow him to be utilized more as a pass rusher in college. He’s a likely redshirt candidate to continue to develop physically and put on the weight to play that spot in the Pac-12. Coming from the vaunted Skyline program, he’s been well coached and is already really fundamentally sound with a high football IQ. So it’s just a matter of him putting on the necessary weight to be an effective pass rusher in college and making that jump from rushing against Washington high school competition to Pac-12 tackles.
BT’s Take: Saffle certainly is one heck of a communicator. Beyond his work with special needs students, Saffle got the ball rolling in his own recruitment by contacting defensive line coach Fred Tate. The two are a perfect match, as both are outgoing and loquacious. But, of course, personality doesn’t win games. Motor, though, does, and Saffle certainly has that.
VIDEO: Saffle 2014 Highlights
Related Story: Saffle Commits to Cal
Beyond the Commitment: Cameron Saffle, Part 1
Beyond the Commitment: Saffle, The Great Communicator
“I think that coach [Jacob] Peeler is a very genuine person, and he really cares. He’s always straight-up, not just telling you what you want to hear. He’s a really nice guy, and he’s always going to tell you the truth. He’s always going to be straight-up with you.”
The Skinny on Singleton from Analyst Chad Simmons: Very good route runner. Knows how to stick his foot in the ground and get out of his breaks. Advanced in the game as a wide receiver. Catches the ball naturally away from his body and more quick than fast. Still a little on the thin side, so he needs to add weight for the next level.
BT’s Take: Remember Kenny Lawler? You know, that under-the-radar kid Cal signed three years ago? Need a refresher? How about now?. Yeah. Singleton is very, very similar to Lawler when he came in – he needs to put on some size and muscle, and he’s not the most hotly-recruited guy on the board (though he was, at one time, a Georgia Tech commit, and had offers from Arkansas and Minnesota), but he could be the hidden gem in a very large receiver class.
Singleton, like Bryce Treggs, has an NFL dad, in former San Francisco 49er Nate Singleton. As good as Treggs is at running routes, that’s what you can expect from Singleton. He sets up his defenders, and sells them even if he’s being used as a decoy. He may not be in my list of immediate contributors, just because of the depth currently at receiver, but with the possibility of the Bears losing up to six receivers after next season due to graduation and the NFL Draft, you’ll see Singleton sooner, rather than later.
Scout Spotlight: Brandon Singleton
Beyond the Commitment: Brandon Singleton
Related Story: Singleton Commits to Cal
Related Story: Singleton Has an Edge
“I’m ready to put them pads on, catch some balls from Jared Goff and just ball out.” -- Carlos Strickland."
The Skinny on Strickland from Greg Powers, Midlands Analyst: Strickland is the tall and wiry-strong wide receiver who always seems to be open. He runs clean routes and then uses his size and reach to make sure catches. One of his best attributes is his blocking ability. He takes those snaps as seriously as the ones where his number is called. He is a weapon in the red-zone using his size to make a mismatch over smaller defensive backs. He is a pretty good route runner as well. Just very well-rounded.
BT’s Take: Carlos Strickland pulled the trigger and committed to the Bears after decommitting from Texas Tech. Cal beat out the Red Raiders, as well as Texas and UCLA for a high-academic, and high-achieving receiver, ranked the 101st player overall in the Scout300.
Strickland is unquestionably the jewel of this class, and the fact that the Bears were able to beat out the Red Raiders, Longhorns and Bruins for him shows that this staff’s recruiting acumen is growing. He’s taking four Advanced Placement classes, so he’s not only choosing Cal for the Bear Raid – he exemplifies what Dykes has called “a Cal fit.”
A Semper Fidelis All-American, Strickland got an earful from Powell during the week of practice, and once the dead period lifted, got more from Pierre Ingram, who replaced Rob Likens as the outside receivers coach. Having a long, lean, athletic guy like Ingram coach up Strickland is going to pay a lot of dividends, and should shorten the lines of communication.
Strickland easily has the most impressive film in this class. He’s a tall, athletic wide receiver who changes direction very smoothly and is sneaky fast. Remind you of anyone? It should. The best comparison here is San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen, but a shade taller, at 6-foot-4. He is faster than Allen, with a 4.48 40 time.
VIDEO and ANALYSIS: Commitment Impact and Scouting Report.
Beyond the Commitment: Carlos Strickland
Semper Fi: Texas Snapshot
Semper Fi: Strickland Talks Cal
Related Story: Strickland Talks Official Visits
"I'm not coming out to California to sit on anybody's bench." – DePriest Turner
The Skinny on Turner From Analyst Chad Simmons: Played quarterback in high school, as an athlete, he will likely move to another position in college. He is a natural athlete who can run and who is very fluid. He did a lot of damage in high school with his legs at quarterback. Good length, nice burst, and someone who could excel at wide receiver in time.
BT’s Take: Ranked as a wide receiver, Turner has spent all of his off hours turning himself into a Pac-12 defensive back. The former Duke commit with a 3.9 GPA played mainly as a quarterback this past season, and didn’t play a single defensive snap. That, to me, says he’s ticketed to redshirt, especially with two JuCo defensive backs coming in as a part of this class. His speed (4.41 40 time) will make him stand out, but he needs some polish.
Related Story: Turner Ready for Cal
Related Story: Turner Talks Back-to-Back Cal In-Home Visits
Related Story: Turner Flips to Cal
VIDEO: Senior Highlights
"I’m just focused on winning football games." – Russell Ude
The Skinny on Ude From Analyst Chad Simmons: A guy who plays with energy and a good motor. Has lined up all over the defensive front, but best suited for the strongside end position now with potential to grow into a quicker, lighter defensive tackle. Needs to improve his moves off the ball, but flashes quickness and is effective against the run when he plays with leverage.
BT’s Take: Ude is listed as a defensive end, but looking at him on the hoof, he projects as a defensive tackle. Ude is a barrel-chested diesel engine, with powerful legs and broad shoulders. He’s got good burst off the line and can shed blocks quickly, or wait for a play to develop and then explode off his blocker. What’s most impressive about Ude as an end is that he can get around the outside of a tackle, or swim-move between the tackle and guard to get after the quarterback. He also shows good lateral quickness and space awareness, but, most impressive of all is his patience.
Related Story: Full Scouting Report
Related Story: Official Visit a Happy Homecoming for Ude
Related Story: Ude Talks Commitment
Related Story: Ude Breaks Down Summer Visit
VIDEO: 2013 NFTC Highlights
VIDEO: Senior Highlights
"I chose Cal because it’s closest to home, the degree will set me and my family up for life, and the opportunity to come and play right away was very appealing." – DeVante Wilson
The Skinny on Wilson: Wilson – who enrolled early -- has been on the Cal radar for a while. He camped in Berkeley with his high school team -- Corona (Calif.) High – back in 2010. At Corona, he tallied 192 tackles and 11.5 sacks in three seasons, and earned Prep Star All-American, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, All-Area and All-Big VIII League first-team honors as a 2010 senior when he had 59 tackles, 9.5 sacks and one forced fumble, while adding one catch for 12 yards for a first-round playoff team.
Wilson came in as the No. 37 player overall in the JuCo ranks in our JuCo Top 100.
Originally a USC signee, he took the 2011 fall semester off to recover from knee surgery, and enrolled in the spring of 2012, but suffered a second knee injury. Wilson eventually became the victim of the scholarship crunch down in Los Angeles, and went to Riverside CC. As a sophomore, he played in all 12 games and earned first-team All-Southern California Football Association National Central League honors as a sophomore in 2014 when he recorded 36 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss (-41 yards), 3.0 sacks (-18 yards), one fumble recovery that he returned 34 yards for a touchdown and two pass breakups.
Sonny’s Take: “I feel like DeVante Wilson gives us an athletic, long and explosive pass rusher who is going to make us instantly better.”
THE QUESTION MARKS
UPDATE 6:40 AM: Keith Washington has flipped to Michigan.
" I took all five officials, I weighed all my options, and Cal was the best place for me." – Keith Washington
The Skinny on Washington from Analyst Chad Simmons: A guy who could project on either side of the ball when talking college. Long and lean right now and he is fluid with hips, so I like him as a corner down the road. Comes from a great high school program and he has some real upside. Ball skills are there and has shown he can play the ball.
BT’s Take: Washington got a very late offer from Michigan, and sources say he could very well take it. He’s been committed to Cal since Jan. 25, following his official visit to Berkeley, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he flips. He’ll be announcing at 8:30 AM, Eastern.
Related Story: Michigan on Flip Alert
Scout Spotlight: Keith Washington
Beyond the Commitment: Washington Talks Cal Commitment
"I've made it no secret that academics are really important to me. Well, Cal is the No. 1 public school in the world." – Semisi Uluave
The Skinny on Uluave from Mountain/Island Analyst Doug Kimmel: Semisi Uluave looks like an ideal guard, with the ability to play any spot on the line, though it's likely that he'll play on the interior. He moves his feet well, keeping them chopping the whole time, does a good job with his hands and showed good strength. Uluave's initial punch was usually enough to stagger his defender.
Uluave is what you are looking for in an offensive linemen. He has a nice frame, can play four positions at the Power 5 level, and is incredibly smart. Uluave has sound technique and ideal strength. Put him in a good strength and conditioning program for a year or two and he could emerge as an All-Conference caliber guard.
Landing Uluave would be a huge way for Cal to close out. It looks like they are primarily going against Texas Tech and Oregon. With Kanawai Noa locked up, the Golden Bears have a decent shot with the four-star linemen.
BT’s Take: Talk about finishing strong. After losing Nick Buchanan, Chris Williamson and Luc Bequette to Florida, if the Bears can pick up their second four-star recruit in as many weeks to cap off the class, that somewhat takes the sting out of losing Buchanan. But, Uluave is more than just a salve. Kanawai Noa’s high school teammate is one of the most highly-regarded linemen on the West Coast, and is arguably an upgrade from Buchanan. If he pulls the trigger at 7 AM Island time, score another recruiting win for Pierre Ingram, here. One more thing to consider: Uluave has said that he intends to take his LDS mission before arriving at the college of his choice. The real question for the Bears is if he decides to put off that mission. If he does, he can help very, very soon.
Scout Spotlight: Semisi Uluave
Related Story: Uluave Talks Cal Visit, NSD Decision
West 2015: Postseason Top 10 Offensive Guards
VIDEO: NFTC OL Highlights
Oakland NFTC: Top Offensive Performers
VIDEO: Uluave NFTC Highlights
Related Story: Visit to Berkeley Comes Up Aces for Uluave
"I know what they're capable of. I know what these coaches are going to bring out of their kids." – Jaylinn Hawkins
The Skinny on Hawkins: Hawkins will choose between Arizona State and Cal at 4 PM on Fox Sports West, and sources say his mother has been high on the Sun Devils. But, Cal has been hammering away with recruiting ace Pierre Ingram, and it looks like his visit to Berkeley – his final official – opened his eyes. Hawkins was, wire-to-wire, one of the top 10 receivers in the West, and adding him to an already strong group means that the Bear Raid won’t be lacking for weapons when the current crop of veteran pass-catchers leaves.
Hawkins is close with Bankhead, and has trained with Allen. This one feels more and more like a Cal commit as the minutes tick by.
VIDEO: NFTC Highlights
Related Story: West’s Top Postseason Wide Receivers
Related Story: West’s Top Preseason Wide Recievers
Related Story: Hawkins Talks Cal Official
Camp Confidential: Hawkins Talks Bears at SoCal Satellite Camp
ABOUT OUR EXPERTS:
Chad Simmons, Brandon Huffman, Greg Biggins, Gabe Brooks, Greg Powers, Doug Kimmel and Ryan Gorcey have a total of over 80 years of combined experience covering high school football recruiting.
Chad Simmons, our Southeast Recruiting Analyst, has been covering recruiting since 2003, and has been with Scout since 2008.
Gabe Brooks, our Midlands Recruiting Analyst, has been covering Texas high school football since 2005.
Greg Biggins, one of our West Coast Recruiting Analysts, has been covering high school recruiting since 1996, with Student Sports, ESPN and Scout.
Brandon Huffman, our National Director of Scouting, was formerly our West Coast Regional Manager, and has been covering recruiting since 2003, starting with Scout in 2005.
Greg Powers is our Regional Manger for the Midlands, has been with Scout since 2006, and has covered high school football recruiting since 2005.
Doug Kimmel is our Mountain/Island Regional Analyst, and has been covering recruiting for two years at Scout.
Ryan Gorcey publishes BearTerritory.net and GoldenStatePreps.com, and has been covering Cal football, baseball, basketball and recruiting since 2009.