BERKELEY -- California defensive line commit Gabe Cherry didn't have to participate in the Golden Bears' full-contact camp this weekend. Like fellow commits Taariq Johnson and Jeremiah Hawkins, he could have just come up, hung out with the coaching staff and spent a weekend in the Bay Area sunshine. But, despite his parents telling the Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial defensive end that he didn't have to participate, he insisted, and spent all of Friday afternoon getting a jump start on his training with coach Fred Tate. Cherry, in the course of Friday's work, cracked one of his knuckles, and was held out for all of Saturday. That isn't t say he wasn't still able to play. He practically begged the medical staff to cast up his injured hand so he could continue to play. He only discovered the injury while doing his morning push-ups.
After having watched tape and now seen Cherry in person, and spoken with him multiple times, it was one moment on Friday that showed BearTerritory what kind of player Cherry is capable of being.
First, in watching the film above, it's very apparent that Cherry has all the pieces to be an effective defensive lineman at the Pac-12 level -- he has the size, the footwork, the speed, the hands and the agility -- but he is a very raw product. He has great twitch, is quick off the ball and uses his hands well. In short, he has all the pieces to one impressive piece of Ikea furniture, but that doesn't mean he has a free-standing entertainment center just yet. He doesn't win very rep, challenged repeatedly by Semisi Uluave's younger brother Alama Uluave, but his speed, persistence and physicality were clearly a cut above.
The most telling rep was one that Cherry didn't even take. Nearing the end of the board drills, an offensive lineman stared down the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Cherry, wanting a piece of the Cal commit. Cherry didn't have to even acknowledge him. He didn't even have to have pads on, at all, this weekend. With coaches telling him the drill was over, he still got down in a three-point stance, ready to accept a challenge. Though offensive line coach Brandon Jones put the kibosh on the one final rep, the fact that Cherry was ready to answer the bell spoke volumes about his motor, more than any highlight film.