After we speak with California quarterback signee -- and early enrollee -- Max Gilliam about everything from what classes he's taking to hosting his own recruiting classmates to the new Bears offensive coordinator, we break down just what's going to happen on National Signing Day. Could there be a few surprises in store for Cal?
In the meantime, here's how Cal's class breaks down:
ATH Melquise Stovall ... A dynamic, explosive home run threat from the slot and the backfield, and a U.S. Army All-American
WR Logan Gamble ... A third-generation Golden Bear, Gamble eschewed an offer from UCLA after he committed to the Bears, and was named first-team All-Dream Team by the Long Beach Press Telegram, first-team all-Santa Fe League, Santa Fe League MVP, first-team All-CIF and first-team All-State
OT Daniel Juarez … Second-team All-State by USA TODAY, Juarez is a big, strong, athletic tackle who plays with a high motor and a mean streak.
QB Max Gilliam … A true dual-threat quarterback who can make all the throws, and will be in the mix this spring along with three other quarterbacks to replace Jared Goff.
CB Nygel Edmonds … A national-level recruit who committed to Stanford early, Cal flipped the former Cardinal commit in mid-January.
OL Nate Herbig ... Cal had him in for an official visit with high school teammate Drew Kobayashi, but couldn’t keep him away from the Cardinal after he was admitted.
CB Terrell Burgess ... A dynamic and explosive kick returner and physical corner, Burgess committed to Utah on Jan. 28 after an official visit to Cal that he called “overwhelming.”
DE Evan Weaver ... State player of the year in Washington, he’s been called the J.J. Watt of Washington high school football, with a white-hot motor and plus-plus athleticism and physicality.
DE Tevin Paul … Paul was one of the big risers at the end of the season out of the state of Texas, he’s a blue-collar warrior who plays through the whistle, and was the heart and soul of a team that made it to the state title game.
DB Marloshawn Franklin … With starting corner Darius White and starting safety Stefan McClure graduating, Franklin has the chance to play right away. He’s great in man coverage, and very physical. He was a second-team All-ACCAC as a freshman at Mesa CC, and first-team All-WSFL this year.
Had to Get
Melquise Stovall … Losing Bryce Treggs in the slot was a big blow, but Stovall has home-run ability and can score from anywhere on the field. He can make any defender miss and has to be accounted for at all times. Cal hasn’t really had a weapon like this in the Sonny Dykes era. A former USC commit who had Utah as one of his finalists, and took official visits with the Utes, Arizona State, Boise State and Notre Dame.
Losing their six most productive wide receivers, the Bears needed to strike big again. Last cycle, Cal got five receivers, including greyshirt Greyson Bankhead, and with Bankhead now readying for spring ball, the Bears have added to that stack of wide outs, filling Bryce Treggs’s role with Stovall, and adding big outside targets Jordan Veasy, Logan Gamble, Jordan Duncan, Matt Laris and Drew Kobayashi.
Linebackers. With Jalen Jefferson and Nathan Broussard graduating, Michael Barton Barton choosing the grad transfer route to Arizona, and no linebackers in last year’s class, getting just one (as of now) in Cameron Goode is tough to swallow, but, with the conference the way it is, Cal’s going to go with a two-linebacker look 85% of the time, and with Aisea Tongilava, Hamilton Anoa'i, Ray Davison, Devante Downs, Jake Kearney, Hardy Nickerson and high-level walk-on Harrison Mayo, that's actually a pretty decent depth chart for two positions. There could also be another potential linebacker waiting in the wings ...
Signing Day Targets
WR A.J. Brown, an Ole Miss commit also considering Mississippi State and Mississippi
QB Victor Viramontes, who’s also considering Arizona and Utah, and he'll announce at 1 p.m. on FOX Sports West. Cal wants him as a quarterback, and he was very taken with his official visit this past weekend.
RB Zion Echols ... a former Cal commit who's likely to come back into the fold when he announces at noon.
WR Demetris Robertson, an Ole Miss commit who officially visited Cal in October, and got two in-home visits from the Bears down the stretch ... The five-star may be visiting Georgia with his mother this coming weekend, but that visit is far from certain.
DT Boss Tagaloa … He looks like a USC-UCLA battle, but he gave nearby Cal a midweek official visit, and expressed his fondness for defensive line coach Fred Tate.
OL Francisco Perez … A longtime Cal commit, UCLA came in with a big push late, and Perez likes the fact that he could stay closer to home if he played in Westwood. He’s still committed, but he’ll make his final decision on Signing Day, likely flipping to the Bruins.
RB/OLB Beau Bisharat ... Didn't officially visit Cal, but he's been to Berkeley multiple times unofficially, and Cal has been involved since long before he committed to Stanford. When Bisharat de-committed, Cal was one of his first calls. This could be the biggest and best surprise for the Bears on Signing Day.
The Bottom Line
Cal got an early start to this class, and had all but four spots filled by the time the dead period lifted in January. The Bears also brought in nine early enrollees, which means that spring football will be a bit closer to a final product on the field than it would have been without such key additions as Gilliam, Stovall, Veasy and Edmonds. Flipping the likes of Stovall and Edmonds in the late goings gave Cal a nice late surge, and they were able to get bigger along both fronts; the Bears’ five offensive line commits are all at least 290 pounds, and stand 6-foot-5, 6-foot-3, 6-foot-7, 6-foot-4.5 and 6-foot-3.5, while the four defensive line commits all stand at least 6-foot-3.5 and all weigh over 245 pounds.