Signing Day Decisions
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. He'll decide at noon on National Signing Day, and it's a battle between the Bears and Washington State.
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
Francisco Perez has been committed to Cal since June, but a late run by UCLA, including an official visit on Jan. 15, has complicated matters. Losing Perez would certainly be a blow, especially to a Pac-12 rival, and sources have said that he's leaning towards staying close to home, and his family. He's set to make his decision on Signing Day.
Boss Tagaloa looks like a battle between USC and UCLA, the latter of which ranks tops in the Pac-12 in recruiting rankings. The Bruins are up to No. 12 overall in the national rankings, and they're right in the mix for Tagaloa and teammate Devin Asiasi. Right now, it looks like UCLA leads for Tagaloa, but Michigan made a big impression on his visit last weekend, but he'll also be visiting the Trojans this weekend. Tagaloa is a first-team All-State defensive tackle, and said that he enjoyed his Cal visit, particularly defensive line coach Fred Tate.
A source told me on Tuesday night that the Bears had a good feeling about Tagaloa -- as good as they can have -- headed into National Signing Day. His father and the Cal staff have been in touch, but I'd still say it's a long shot for the Bears.
Sources close to Tagaloa say that he'll head to southern California, likely to UCLA, at 12 p.m. PST on ESPN2.
Demetris Robertson is going to be making his decision after National Signing Day, after taking his mother on a visit to Georgia. Cal's a long shot, but the Bears have had Jacob Peeler giving Robertson a lot of love since his October official visit to Berkeley. I think there's a bigger chance for Cal to snag Robertson than there is to get the next man on our list: Four-star A.J Brown. Sources in Mississippi have said the same. Everything looks like it's leaning Notre Dame's way, but that could change.
A.J. Brown will be tough to pull not only because of his visit to Tuscaloosa, but also because last weekend -- the final visit weekend before National Signing Day -- he visited Oxford, Miss., and the Rebels, so the team he's committed to had the last word. He will not visit Mississippi State, the hometown team, but the Bulldogs are still in contention.
"I was thinking that I might have known where I wanted to go," Brown said recently, "but I am not sure about that yet.I want to take these visits and see how I feel about the program and see where I fit in the best."
This season, Brown had one carry for seven yards and a touchdown, while hauling in 88 passes for 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's a dynamic downfield threat that could step in right away and replace Davis as the Bears' speed man on the outside.
He'll be picking at 7 a.m. PST on Wednesday. Hard to pick over Alabama, and I don't think he stays committed to Ole Miss. I think it's either Mississippi State or the Crimson Tide.
Victor Viramontes was sold on the ability to play quarterback with the Golden Bears during his official visit, and the ability to jump in and compete right away, even though he won't be here for spring football. He's still considering Utah and Arizona, but sources have said he's going to make the call for the Bears. So, what would Cal be getting?
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. At a well-built 6-foot, 215 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.
The lack of an offensive coordinator could be a deciding factor, but Dykes has told the offensive recruits that the offense will not change.
He'll be announcing on FOX Sports West at 1 p.m. PST on Wednesday.
UPDATE: On Tuesday evening, at 10 p.m., Bisharat announced that he will be attending Colorado.
Beau Bisharat be picking between Cal, Arizona State, Nebraska and Colorado on Wednesday, and the Bears may sneak away with this one.
A former Stanford commit, who pledged early in the process, but opened things up on Jan. 19, Bisharat reminds me a lot of Christian McCaffrey, though not quite as thickly-built. Bisharat has been speaking with the Bears since before he committed to the Cardinal, and since he and Stanford parted ways, there's been a lot of communication back and forth. The academics are a perfect fit, and Cal can start him as a running back, and then perhaps move him to linebacker, down the road, but right now, even with one back signed (Derrick Clark) and another (Echols) likely to pick the Bears, this is the kind of guy you bring in, no matter what. It's a perfect fit, and this may be the best surprise that Bears fans get on National Signing Day, especially because he didn't even officially visit. Nebraska has made a late run at Bisharat, but the fit with Cal seems like it's too good for him to pass up.
This past season, Bisharat rushed 113 times for 1,036 yards and seven touchdowns, and caught 15 balls for 189 yards and two scores. He also made three tackles. As a junior, Bisharat rushed 154 times for 1,651 yards and 23 touchdowns, with 24 catches for 385 yards and three more scores. At linebacker, he tallied 23 tackles, including 2.0 TFL, both sacks. He also recovered one fumble and returned it for 44 yards.
What to Like: Bisharat is a big, tough, physical, down hill runner, capable of wearing out a defense. He has already been compared to former Stanford All-American Toby Gerhart and there are some definite similarities in terms of their size and speed. Bisharat is more than just a straight line guy, he shows patience, vision and balance and can make one cut and go. He shows a nice initial burst, is quick through the hole and can run away from defenders at the H.S level. He also catches the ball very well out of the backfield and has the ability to be an every down back in college who will never need to leave the field.
Areas to improve: Like all players, Bisharat need to get faster and stronger to excel at the next level. He’s already a powerful athlete who can run and he’ll likely make some big strides in those areas.
Overall Analysis: A guy who pounds the rock between the tackles all game long and break the occasional long run when defenses have to stack the box, Bisharat is versatile enough to be a factor in the screen game and is a load to bring down once he gets going in the open field.