We've been through the early enrollees, and we've been through the potential Signing Day decisions (with Beau Bisharat already off the board late Tuesday night, to Colorado), so now, it's time to look at the prospects that are and have been committed, and are expected to send in their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, starting at 4 a.m. Pacific time.
A former high school teammate of Cal defensive lineman Russell Ude at Atlanta Westminster, Nygel Edmonds is not flashy, but he gets his hands on balls, and can play both on and off the ball, with the speed to make up space downfield thanks to his 4.45-second 40 time.
He uses his hands well in press, has good hip sink and is a very physical defensive back who can play both corner and safety. He plays big receivers very well, and excels when playing off. He's not great at any one thing, but he's very good at a lot of things, a very technicallly sound defender with a nose for the ball.
Edmonds played in seven games for the Blue Tornado this past season due to injury, but still tallied 26 tackles, one interception and had five kickoff returns for 135 yards. As a junior, he didn't see the ball thrown much in his direction, with 24 tackles and two interceptions, but he did block a field goal and returned it for a 75-yard touchdown, snapping Bowling Green (Ky.)'s 48-game winning streak, and scored a touchdown on a fumbled kickoff return in a win at McMinn County, and picked off two passes against Siegel.
After his official visit to Cal on Jan. 29, Chinedu Udeogu re-committed to the Bears, following courtships from Iowa State -- where his older brother, Oge Udeogu, signed to play offensive line this past December out of the City College of San Francisco -- and Wake Forest.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1638116-was-official-visit... A lot like his brother, Udeogu is just big all over, and that's helped him dominate at the high school level. He's got long arms, a broad chest and is bull-strong, but, watching his senior film, it's apparent that he's lacking in finer technique. He needs to get his pad level down, sink his hips more, and with his length and strength, if he can get more leverage, he's going to be tough to stop. As it stands, he's got a good burst, good top-end speed and a good change of direction, but is very raw in spots. It's easy to surmise that he would play on a team without returning experience at the end position, but given that Cal does have at least a little bit of depth there, with Cameron Saffle (8 games), Noah Westerfield (4 games in 2015, 12 games in 2014), DeVante Wilson (2015 starter) and Kennedy Emesibe (2 games) bringing back at least some experience, he won't be needed right away, especially with youngsters Trevor Howard and Udeogu's official visit host, Russell Ude, waiting in the wings.
Udeogu is versatile, playing stand-up end, playing with his hand in the dirt and, given his size, he could even move to be a defensive tackle at some point, and he would be a very athletic one, at that.
His hands are a bit of a non-factor now, he doesn't have a ton of pass rush moves, and he's still a bit stiff overall, but if he can loosen up, and add more moves to his already-considerable power, he's going to be very effective. Definitely a developmental player, to be sure, but one that has a very high ceiling, particularly because he's got good footwork. He also sows very good tackling technique, wrapping up and rolling his target to the ground, as well as trying to punch the ball loose while he's tackling. This is a player who could cause a lot of turnovers once he's polished up.
Born in Chicago to Nigerian parents, and going to school in Maryland, Udeogu is truly a world citizen, and that's one of the reasons he chose Cal.
There were several in-state schools that pursued Gentle Williams down the stretch, but sources say that after his official visit, the big offensive tackle out of Florence (Miss.) was more than shored up, and he'll be signing today. Some more on Williams: He earned first-team All-State, first-team All-State 4A, and the Most Valuable Offensive Lineman 6-4A. Williams helped plow the way for a team that rushed for 3,033 yards (6.3 ypc) and 252.8 yards per game in 2015.
Scouting Report: "Gentle Williams will play one of the interior positions on the offensive line for the next level. The first thing you notice about Gentle is his footwork. That was evident at the Ole Miss senior camp this past summer when he ran a 5.08 forty weighing in at 288 pounds. He had the best footwork out of all of the offensive linemen for Team Mississippi. Very athletic and light on his feet. Williams will have to continue to work on his overall body strength but the tools are in place to become a successful lineman in a power five conference. Very coachable, very knowledgable about the game of football." -- Yancy Porter
Cameron Goode re-affirmed his commitment to Cal after his official visit, and he may be one of the most important players in this class, given that the Bears are losing Michael Barton as a graduate transfer, as well as senior linebackers Jalen Jefferson and Nathan Broussard.
Goode has a big frame, but is very athletic, almost like an oversized safety. He has the ability to play in space, and run with wide receivers, but he's strong enough to rush against offensive tackles, and that's what the Bears are so intrigued by, especially because Cal has been playing two-linebacker schemes quite often over the past year, and intend to continue that trend, meaning that having a versatile pass rusher and a linebacker who can cover all in the same body is a huge bonus. He's got a frame that can get up to 230, 240 pounds, his coach, Drew Svoboda said, and he'll be able to keep his speed, which means he's going to be veyr hard to stop in two or three years, especially with a 6-foot-7 wingspan enabling him to get into passing lanes.
Tevin Paul was named to the District 14-6A All-District Team, taking home the Defensive MVP, as well, for a Lake Travis team that got to the state title game against Katy, where they fell short, 35-7. Paul had 68 total tackles on defense, including 22.0 tackles for loss, racking up 8.0 sacks and six quarterback hurries. He also broke up one pass and forced two fumbles.
Scouting Report: "Paul was a guy who, when I watched him in person, I knew that I had him rated too low. He is just a warrior. He’s the type of guy who you want to put on your roster: blue-collar, gets the job done each and every play, takes no plays off, plays through the whistle and never gives up on plays. He was the heart and soul of the defense and that team played in the state championship game, so that tells you really all you need to know about him, and the mentality that he brings to the defensive side of the football. I really think that he was a steal for California and that more schools locally should have been giving him a hard look, but what is going to be their loss will be the Golden Bears’ gain." – Greg Powers
A second-team All-State defensive lineman as chosen by USA TODAY, Chris Yaghi is an underrated piece that Cal very much needed, along with Becker. With the Bears losing veteran defensive tackles Mustafa Jalil, Trevor Kelly and David Davis, bringing in a broad, athletic and powerful player like Yaghi, who's a bruising fullback when he's not a defensive tackle, is a big win for the staff's scouting accumen. Having seen Yaghi at camp, in person, he's got a frame that's already big, but can get much bigger, and he's got a very broad, powerful chest and long arms. He's a bit stiff in the hips and his footwork needs to quicken up and be more precise, but he's got a lot of very intriguing physical tools.
As a junior in 2014, Weaver was named Associated Press Class 4A All-State, all-classifications All-State by the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune, and was the Greater Spokane League defensive MVP. He also was all-league and AP All-State choice as a sophomore in 2013. During his junior campaign he racked up 123 tackles (36 for loss, including 14 sacks), forced six fumbles and blocked a field goal, an extra point and two punts.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1636448-bear-republic-duck... Named the Washington state Player of the Year by The News Tribune as a senior, and the Defensive Player of the Year by the Seattle Times, he finished with 124 tackles and 24 sacks, 36 tackles for loss, and led Spokane (Wash.) Gonzaga Prep to the 4A title game win over vaunted Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline. On offense, he added nearly 1,000 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns. He also had two blocked kicks -- one returned for a touchdown -- and had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown in the state quarterfinal against Woodinville, a game where he also ran for three touchdowns. He's probably the biggest, most powerful, most dynamic athlete in this class, and he's going to wreak havoc on the outside as a defensive end, if he doesn't get big enough to play on the inside. It's been said before: He's the J.J. Watt of Washington high school football.
He’s got a white-hot motor, dead lifts 635 pounds. Weaver is deceptively quick for a young man his size and he has a knack for getting to the quarterback, evidenced by his 56 sacks during the past three seasons, but what really sets him apart is his leadership skills and he was counted on mightily by his team as they were on a collision course with the 4A State Title. The only negative anyone could find with him is his lack of elite athleticism, but he should be able to be an early contributor as a pass-rush specialist.
Camryn Bynum Corona (Calif.) Centennial came up just short in the state title game against Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, losing 28-21, but Bynum had a huge season on the defensive side of the ball, racking up 70 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, three picks, nine passes defended, two fumble recoveries and one blocked field goal.
What to Like: Bynum has made big strides this past spring and is a completely different player than he was last fall. He has an incredible work ethic off the field and no one will outwork him. He’s more quick than fast and has very good feet. He’s a high football IQ player, always in the right position and very good reading a play. He has improved in his ability to break and close on the ball and has very good ball skills. He’s also an incredibly high character kid off the field and will be a great representative of the University.
Areas to improve: Bynum has two areas where he needs to work hard on before he was ready to play at the next level. He has put on a good 10-15 pounds this off-season but still needs to gain even more size and strength. He has worked hard on becoming a more physical player but in order to be more affective in press coverage, getting off blocks and factoring in to the run game, he’ll beed to continue to build himself up. He’ll also need to improve his top end speed. As mentioned above, he’s more quick than fast and will need to more down the field burst to be able to turn and run with some of the faster receivers he’ll see in the Pac 12.
Overall Analysis: Cal is starting to build a nice pipeline in to the Centennial program and there aren’t many programs out West better at producing next level talent. Bynum is the 4th Husky player to commit/sign with the Bears over the last three years joining Daniel Juarez in the class of ’16. Bynum has improved as much as any player in the state this off-season and if he continues to make those same strides over the next few years, he’ll have a chance to be a solid contributor to the Bears program.
Matt Laris was named all-class all-state by the Seattle Times and Class 3A all-state by the Associated Press as a junior in 2014 after catching 72 passes for 1,394 yards and 16 TDs for state champion Crusaders. As a sophomore he caught 30 passes for 431 yards and 4 TDs and was named second-team all-Metro. The Washington state champion caught 67 balls this season for 1,098 yards and 10 touchdowns, and was named first-team all-state by KING5.
His big frame is a mismatch for both corners and safeties, he's a strong blocker and a great intermediate and red zone target. He's not much of a down field threat, but if you're looking for a guy who can get open over the middle against slower linebackers or smaller cornerbacks, this is your guy. He's very athletic, and has very soft hands. Having played on one of the top offenses in the sate of Washington, he's a natural when it comes to the type of system Cal is running, and will run under its new offensive coordinator.
Drew Kobayashi earned a second-team all-state nod in an injury-hampered senior season, after earning first-team honors as a junior. One of the fastest receivers in Hawaii, Kobayashi and his Crusaders got to the state title game, but couldn't overcome longtime nemesis Kahuku in a 39-14 loss. Read more about Kobayashi from his official visit.
“Both of my uncles got their Master’s – their MBA’s – at Cal, and both of my grandparents graduated from Cal, [so] they were super excited,” Gamble said after returning from his unofficial visit in the summer. “Obviously, they were pushing me to go there, and they wanted me to get up on campus. They thought when I got offered that I was already committed – they said, ‘Well, there can’t be any other choice.’
“First thing that jumps out about Gamble is his toughness," said Greg Biggins. "Whether he's playing offense or defense, he's a physical kid who loves contact. As a wide receiver, he has great size, is a huge target, catches the ball well and can do something with it after the catch. He can get behind a defense, he has sneaky speed, high points the ball and has excellent body control. He uses his size very well and should be a huge red zone threat.”
This season, Gamble caught 67 balls for 1,136 yards, averaged 103.3 yards per game and hauled in eight touchdowns. On defense, he tallied 35 tackles and 9.0 sacks to lead Long Beach (Calif.) St. Anthony's, and added an interception, three passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Gamble was named to the All-Area Dream Team, First-Team Offense by the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Josh Drayden is not like the larger corner commits Cal brought in last class, at 5-foot-10, 175, but certainly plays bigger than his size. Beyond that he’s set a personal-best 40 time at 4.39, and he’s run the 100 meters in 10.88 seconds. Oh, and he plays point guard on the high school basketball team.
He uses that speed and acceleration to take down opposing receivers from behind when they find the seam in the safety coverage. He’s very good in press, and can play both man and zone.
Drayden’s tape shows him to be a very physical corner, not shy to jam receivers off the line. He also shows very fluid hips, able to flip and run with outside receivers. He also plays well off the line, dropping back into coverage, with good instincts and a nose for the ball. With the proliferation of spread offenses in the pass-happy Pac-12, Drayden shows a good ability to sniff out screens, and when he does pick a ball off, he doesn’t go down easily, with one, 60-yard interception return to his credit as a junior.
He’s very physical going up for the ball in traffic, and doesn’t shy away from contact. In fact, he shows quite a lust for hitting.
What’s most impressive on his film is not the tackles, the hits or the interceptions. What Drayden shows repeatedly is an attention to detail. Granted, these are highlights, but he appears to be very assignment-sound. It’s the plays where the quarterback doesn't throw his way that stand out more than the traditional highlights, because he’s able to take the opposing receiver out of the play from the snap when in man coverage.
Traveon Beck came on our Bear Republic Podcast to talk about his official visit weekend, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen's hot tub, 2017 target Wyatt Davis's nickname, and his selection as a USA TODAY All-State second-team cornerback. Beck tallied 45 tackles this season, including 2.0 tackles for loss. He also hauled in seven interceptions -- a single-season school record -- for 55 return yards, and batted away 10 passes. Beck was named first-team defense on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Area Dream Team, as well.
Cal is Beck's childhood dream school, and the Bears are getting a dream commit in Beck. He plays far bigger than his 5-foot-10, 171 pounds, and is a tough cover corner.
Like Beck, Daniel Juarez is a USA TODAY All-State selection. He continues the Corona (Calif.) Centennial pipeline to Berkeley, a pipeline that includes fellow 2016 commit Camryn Bynum, running back Tre Watson and receiver Greyson Bankhead.
Another Take: "Juarez is your typical OL from Centennial, meaning he's tough, physical and plays with a nasty streak. Shows advanced technique, has been very well coached and is equally strong as a pass and run blocker. He has a solid frame and the flexibility to play tackle or guard in college. He moves around well for a big man and has he continues to improve his overall strength and athleticism, he should be able to take his game to another level." -- Greg Biggins
Zion Echols originally committed to Cal way back at the end of the spring, before de-committing in the midst of Dykes's contract uncertainty. It was thought by many sources taht once Dykes's contract extension was signed, Echols would get back in the boat, but he hasn't, even after an official visit weekend. At 12:57 p.m., he came back to the Bears.
This season, Echols rushed 249 times for 2,147 yards, averaging 153.4 yards per game, and scoring 37 touchdowns. He added 28 catches for 306 yards and four more scores, and fumbled just once in 14 games.
In 2014, Echols carried the ball 188 times for 1,141 yards and 18 touchdowns, tallying four 100-yard games on the ground. He also caught 44 balls for 553 yards and six more scores, averaging 50.3 yards receiving per game, and took back eight kickoffs for 167 yards (20.9 ypr) – including one touchdown -- and one punt return for 80 yards last season.
This year, he took back five kickoffs for 355 yards, so he would definitely going to get a shot at replacing Trevor Davis on returns, if he decides to make the call for Cal.
Echols will start life at Cal as a running back, and then see where his talents and skillset take him. He could easily move over to inside receiver, but since the Bears got Stovall, that avenue may be closed. That said, he easily can take over for Daniel Lasco as a threat to make things happen by catching the ball out of the backfield.
Another Take: "I like Echols a lot. He's a little undersized but is a game breaker and a great fit in the offense. Explosive out of the backfield, very good hands and can play some slot if needed. He'll be great on punt returns and is the kind of player who can score from just about anywhere on the field ... Echols is one of the more versatile players out west." -- Greg Biggins
Viramontes is an intriguing prospect. He was offered by former Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin as a quarterback when he de-committed from Michigan, but he's listed as an athlete, and he had 3.5 tackles for loss on defense this year.
But, on his official visit, Viramontes was sold on the chance to play quarterback with the Golden Bears, and the ability to jump in and compete right away, even though he won't be here for spring football.
"You watch his tape, and you're just kind of like 'Wow,'" head coach Sonny Dykes said. "He played this year at 240 pounds. He's a great leader. He plays with tremendous enthusiasm and toughness, can throw the football, has a big arm, and is obviously a very good runner. I think the kid's got a lot of upside. I think he's a really interesting prospect, and he's definitely a quarterback."
At a well-built 6-foot, 240 pounds, Viramontes is a dynamic athlete on offense, completing 144 of 246 passes for 2,085 yards and 21 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, along with 148 carries for 1,112 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground, with five 100+ yard games.
"Some of these guys you watch are chasing them, you can tell they don't want to catch him," Dykes said of Viramontes as a runner.
He's on the short side, much like Luke Rubenzer, but he's much thicker, and on film, at least, it looks like he's got a much bigger arm, and while Rubenzer is more slippery, Viramontes is a power runner who will run over rather than around defenders.
"It's going to be like watching the Super Bowl on Sunday -- count how many times Cam Newton gets three or more yards with his legs when they need him to -- when you have a quarterback who can do that for you, it's a different dimension," Dykes said. "I think he can develop his passing game. I like both of our quarterbacks. I'm excited about both of them. I think Max is someone who's a winner."
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