Jordan Kunaszyk could be Cal's ready-made replacement for Jake Kearney

With the injury retirement of Jake Kearney, Cal has set its sights on a replacement who could enroll as early as this summer.

At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, and a JuCo All-American as a freshman, it's hard to see why any program would have passed on Jordan Kunaszyk out of high school, but that's exactly what happened. Part of it, he admits, was his fault: He took an art class that didn't count, making him a unit short of a full qualifier. The other part: He gained 45 pounds between his junior and senior years, and while the added size helped him as an inside linebacker, it did make him a bit slower.

"I played pretty much my entire senior year at 16 years old, so I still had a lot of developing to do, and I didn’t necessarily have the grades," Kunaszyk said. Last week, Kunaszyk scored offers from both California and Colorado, adding to his pre-National Signing Day slate of UNLV, Southern Miss, Fresno State, Texas State and New Mexico. 

“I came to American River not this past season, but the season before, and I was contemplating greyshirting," Kunaszyk said. "I ended up playing in the first game of the season, and I broke my hand, so I ended up medical redshirting, and this past season was my freshman year. I actually get my AA at the end of the semester. My offer for Cal was to come in the summer.”

He has the same offer from Colorado, and all the schools who offered him this year.

“I didn’t feel a fit with any of those schools, so I was coming back to American River for another season to be a 2017 mid-year signing," he said. "I had been talking to Cal since Signing Day, and they said that if a spot were to open up in the spring, they have a need for linebackers, and I’m the one that they wanted. A spot opened up, and they pulled the trigger on me. With Colorado, it’s kind of the same situation. They had a need for linebacker, and I’m the one that they wanted, so they pulled the trigger on me, as well.”

It was defensive coordinator and newly-minted linebackers coach Art Kaufman who came by American River before National Signing Day, and began the dialogue with Kunaszyk, who admits to not doing his job, academically, his first two years of high school, before taking extra classes and re-taking others in his final two years.

Kunaszyk had wanted to take an official visit to Cal this coming weekend, but since the students will be on spring break, that visit will have to be delayed. He does, however, want to make sure he gets to see Berkeley before making his decision, which, he says, will come down to the Bears and the Bufflaoes.

“I want to make my decision ASAP, and it’s really between Colorado and Cal. There are a few other schools coming into the mix right now, so we’ll see what happens," Kunaszyk said.

Early playing time, he said, is enticing, and Cal has plenty else going for it, as well.

"It’s a great place, the No. 1 public school in America, so if you get a degree from Cal, it speaks volumes," said Kunaszyk, who currently has a 3.11 GPA at American River. "It’s definitely a program on the rise. They did really good things last year, and I think they’re going to build on that this year. It’s in the Bay Area, it’s close to home, it’s a beautiful climate out there, and it’s an hour and a half from where I live, so it’ll be better for my family. Also, I love California. I’ve lived in California my whole life, so I’m definitely a California kid.” Top Stories