Portland (Ore.) Jesuit offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland previews his visit to Cal

Last week, Jaxson Kirkland put Cal in his top four, and this week, he'll pay a visit to Berkeley for the first time.

Portland (Ore.) Jesuit offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland put California in his top four without ever having visited Berkeley, because, he told BearTerritory, the academics are "insane."

He had planned to visit Cal on Wednesday, but instead rescheduled for Friday, as the opening of fall camp grows closer and closer, with players reporting on Sunday and practice starting on Monday.

"I've only talked to the O-line coach, coach [Brandon] Jones, so I'm really looking forward to meeting the head coach, and the whole coaching staff, seeing the facilities, and really, everything that Cal football has to offer," Kirkland said.

Kirkland admits that he didn't pay terribly close attention to the Bears, but one thing definitely stood out: Cal's very own No. 1 overall draft pick, in quarterback Jared Goff.

"They had their ups and their downs, but no matter what, they put out players," Kirkland said. "Their quarterback was the first pick in the draft, so that's always good for recruiting, I guess."

In high school, Kirkland -- a hulking, bullying, 6-foot-7, 305-pound tackle -- runs a pro set with a fullback and two tight ends at times, and is used to grading the road for a strong run game. Last season, the Crusaders rushed for 2,583 total yards, led by running back Jason Talley, who peeled off 1,451 yards on the ground.

"We run a ground-and-pound type formation," said Kirkland. "We don't do vertical pass sets, anything like that."

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1681815-countdown-to-kicko... That should be music to Jones's ears. It was Jones who lobbied to eliminate the vertical pass sets from the Cal offense last season. Once the Bears went back to more traditional offensive line play -- midway through the year -- the sack and tackles for loss numbers dropped precipitously. 

"That kind of play," Kirkland said, "is what I like."

Jones has told Kirkland that he's the exact type of tackle they want -- big and long. Looking at the Bears' tackles this year -- 6-foot-8 Aaron Cochran, 6-foot-6 Steven Moore, and 6-foot-5 third tackle Vince Johnson -- Kirkland is the prototype. Clearly, Kirkland ha what Cal wants. But, what does Kirkland, himself, want? What does he see in the Bears?

"The school itself, the academics are insane," Kirkland said. "It's one of the top schools in the nation. That set it apart from the other offers that I had, and also, it being a Pac-12 school, I want to play Pac-12 football. That's a bonus."

The Pac-12 is in Kirkland's blood, with his father being a Washington alumnus. The Huskies, though, have not offered. Washington State, however, has, and the Cougars, along with the Bears, Oregon State and UCLA made his top four last week.

Kirkland wants to major in business, following in the footsteps of his father, who is a commercial developer. Haas School of Business, Kirkland said, plays a big part in Cal's bid to earn his services.

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