Where The Class Stands
California currently has nine commits, and four early-enrollees. The class was slated to be as large as 18, but it's likely that the Bears finish the day with 14-15, depending on a few outstanding prospects. As the Letters of Intent roll in, the class breaks down as follows:
QB (1): Chase Garbers
RB (1): Biaggio Ali-Walsh
TE (2): Gavin Reinwald, Ben Moos
OL (3): Daniel Juarez (2016 signee, delayed enrollment until the spring), Michael Saffell, Poutasi Poutasi
WR (2): Taariq Johnson, Jeremiah Hawkins
DL (1): Gabe Cherry
LB (2): Alex Funches, Kyle Harmon
S (1): Daniel Scott
CB (1): Elijah Hicks
CAL NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: ANALYSIS (Members)
ANALYSIS: The final commit before National Signing Day, and the sixth LOI across the wire. Kyle Harmon is perfect fit as an inside linebacker for new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter's 3-4 conversion job, Harmon has a safety's instincts and loves to hit. Should remind fans of Avery Sebastian. Tough, hard-nosed competitor with a high football IQ. Plays above his athletic gifts. 4.0 student with a plus-plus work ethic. The kind of player who will bleed for his teammates.
“Kyle did it all and was an incredibly productive football player in high school," said head coach Justin Wilcox. "He really wanted to stay home and come to Cal and was enthusiastically on board once we offered him. I’m extremely confident that he will do everything he can to make the most of this opportunity.”
This season, for the North Coast Section finalists, Harmon, the back-to-back BVAL Defensive Player of the Year racked up a staggering 146 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions for 60 return yards, five pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Harmon has led the BVAL in tackles each of the last three seasons. In three years, he's piled up 405 total tackles, breaking the century mark as a sophomore, junior and senior. He's averaged 10.9 tackles per game through three varsity seasons. For his career, Harmon has accumulated 30.5 tackles for loss, 11.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
PAC-12 RECRUITING CHAT: CAL UPDATE (Members)
NCS GAME FILM: LB KYLE HARMON (Members)
ANALYSIS: At 6-foot-3, 215, former Hawaii commit Gavin Reinwald was the fourth LOI across the fax machine. Reinwald is going to have to add weight, but with 20 pounds, he can easily be a Pac-12 tight end. He's a developmental player for now, but he has a wide catch radius, and a broad frame that will easily be able to add weight.
Reinwald's hands and leaping ability are already a plus for an outside receiver, but he also has the strength already to begin the transition to tight end. While he's mainly been an outside receiver, he has regularly played with his hand in the dirt while attached to the line already, and is a more-than-willing and hard-hitting blocker, both at the point of attack and down field. Reinwald's film shows exceptional balance and a tough runner, who powers through contact and isn't afraid to go over the middle. As versatile and physical as he is at receiver, he's also fun to watch on defense, showing a zest for contact.
Reinwald has surprising speed for a receiver his size, and is able to get behind a defense because of that deceptive speed.
“Gavin is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he can become as a football player," said head coach Justin Wilcox. "He has tremendous upside and room for growth with a big frame that will help realize his full potential. He’s already an excellent football player and his high school team won a whole lot of games because of him, but we’re really excited to see what he can become.”
As a senior, Reinwald hauled in in 60 catches for 933 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead Elk Grove (Calif.) in both catches and yards as a senior ... As a sophomore, caught a team-high 45 passes for a team-leading 853 yards and 13 touchdowns ... 5 catches for 87 yards in two varsity games as a sophomore ... Career yards-per-catch of 17.03. Reinwald posted career totals of 110 receptions for 1873 yards receiving and 30 touchdown grabs with his best season coming as a 2016 senior when he earned first-team All-NorCal honors as well as Delta League Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Sacramento Bee All-Metro recognition and for the second straight year first-team all-conference honors.
ANALYSIS: The third LOI across the wire. Free safety Daniel Scott committed to the Bears after his official visit on the final weekend of the cycle. He's a rangy, bouncy safety (thanks to playing varsity basketball), and a ball-hawking competitor. Scott has a nose for the ball, he closes well, and doesn't make dumb decisions. On the eve of Signing Day, Scout recruiting dirctor Huffman upgraded him to a three-star prospect. If he were recruited before the coaching change, there's little doubt he'd be a receiver. That's one of the biggest changes with this new staff -- the athletes are headed to the defensive side of the ball.
“Daniel really came into his own as a senior and may be one of the top sleepers in this recruiting class," said head coach Justin Wilcox. "He has the size and speed to be an excellent safety at the Pac-12 level. We are fortunate that we were in a position to offer him a scholarship late in the recruiting process.”
Scott played both ways for 9-2 La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis this season, catching 41 passes for 688 yards and 10 touchdowns as St. Francis's leading receiver, returning eight punts for 101 yards, picking off five passes and deflecting another five, and racking up a team-high 70 tackles, with 6.0 tackles for loss.
EXPERT ANALYSIS: Scott plays receiver and safety and we saw him this fall against Buena Park (Calif.) in a game that had another Cal commit playing in Taariq Johnson and one out with an injury in Jeremiah Hawkins. Scott and St. Francis got the upper hand in that one. He’s got very good range as a safety and has excellent closing speed and coverage awareness. He can play physically when needs to and also breaks well on the ball, showing good ball skills. As a receiver, he’s a sure-handed pass-catcher and while not explosive, has good enough speed to get separation. -- Huffman
BEYOND THE COMMITMENT: DANIEL SCOTT (Members)
ANALYSIS: A former Louisville commit, and the eighth letter through the machine, Poutasi Poutasi is a dominant, physical, nasty lineman who plays with an edge and finishes plays, with a strong, explosive power base that allows him to bully defenders and knock them back, out of the play.
He locks out with his arms, keeps his feet churning, finishes his blocks, at both the first and second level. At multiple points in his film, we see him making multiple blocks on the same play. He truly plays whistle-to-whistle, which, given what we've heard about this offense being more run-heavy than the spread we've seen the last three years, makes him quite a nice fit. He's flat-out nasty.
“Poutasi was highly coveted by many schools and one of the top offensive linemen we’ve seen in this recruiting class," said Wilcox. "He chose Cal late in the recruiting process after he had the chance to visit and get to know our staff. He liked what Cal has to offer both on and off the field.”
“Poutasi was highly coveted by many schools and one of the top offensive linemen we’ve seen in this recruiting class," Wilcox said. "He chose Cal late in the recruiting process after he had the chance to visit and get to know our staff. He liked what Cal has to offer both on and off the field.”
The fact that Poutasi is used to playing with his hand in the dirt is a big plus, as it's expected that that's the direction Cal will go with the new offense. Poutasi has played both guard and tackle, with most of his experience this year coming at right tackle. He's being signed as as a guard, and may wind up getting into the rotation by the end of the season, given the relative lack depth at that position, and his size and strength. Having him and the massive Semisi Uluave on the interior certainly, on the face of things, looks like a winning combination, flanking Addison Ooms and whoever succeeds him, be it Ryan Gibson or 2017 pledge Michael Saffell at center.
POUTASI TALKS CAL IN-HOME VISIT (Members)
NEVADA'S NO. 1 GUARD TALKS RECRUITING (MEMBERS)
ANALYSIS: The second LOI through the fax machine. A 4.3 GPA student who's already formed a deep friendship with his future quarterback, Michael Saffell is an anchor on the offensive line. He's strong with setting his hands on blocks, is aggressive and explosive at the point of attack. He has the mental flexibility to excel in pass protection and run blocking, man and zone schemes, and both pro-style sets and spread. It's really in run blocking that he excels, with quick explosion off the ball, getting up into his defender and keeping leverage. Saffell stays over his feet, doesn't over-extend and keeps those feet moving.
“Finding good centers can be challenging and it’s a tremendous feeling to know we’ve got one of the best in the country in this recruiting class in Michael," said head coach Justin Wilcox. "The fact that he earned just about every award possible during a great senior season for a team that ended up being one of the best in California says a lot about how highly regarded he is.”
Even midway through his All-CIF D3 senior season, when Saffell started seeing two defenders thrown at him, he defeated double teams with ease, again, thanks to quick, constantly-chopping feet, a low center of gravity, balance and strength. Recruiting Blair Angulo, after watching Saffell practice for the Polynesian Bowl, said of Cal's new center: "Tough-nosed kid, man. Like him a lot."
SAFFELL AND GARBERS BOND AHEAD OF VISIT (Members)
COMMITMENT ANALYSIS: MICHAEL SAFFELL (Members)
BEYOND THE COMMITMENT: MICHAEL SAFFELL (Members)
NIKE OL MVP SAFFELL TALKS CAL OFFER (Members)
ANALYSIS: The first LOI through the fax machine on Wednesday morning. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Biaggio Ali-Walsh -- the grandson of Muhammad Ali -- is one of the more dynamic running backs on the West Coast. He's a hard, explosive runner who provides a stick of dynamite that can make things happen in open space.
“Biaggio is a talented and productive running back who put up huge numbers while playing for arguably the best high school football program in the nation at Bishop Gorman," said head coach Justin Wilcox. "He will enter Cal with a tremendous foundation for success both from the experience he gained in his high school program plus his family’s unmatchable athletic heritage.”
With a 4.41 40-yard time, Ali-Walsh's speed is his best weapon, but he's not a one-trick back. What sets Ali-Walsh apart from other speed backs is his balance and acceleration. He already hits holes like a much bigger back, but down field, he finds another gear. Beyond straight-line speed, he's also quick in and out of cuts, showing a blink-and-you-miss-it change of direction, even while going at top speed. That lateral quickness and explosiveness is unusual for a back with his straight-ahead speed.
The 2015 Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year doesn't have a lot of wasted movement in his running style, either, making subtle shifts and moves to find a way around contact, or to minimize it. What sticks out about his ability to avoid contact is his flexibility, and, again, his balance. He can shift his hips, angle his upper body, or adjust his stride mid-stream. He's got an incredibly strong lower body. What you don't normally see in any running back tape is highlights of blocking, but it's there for Ali-Walsh. That alone is impressive, but the fact that he takes on a defensive tackle that has a foot and easily 120 pounds on him -- twice -- shows you what kind of guts he has.
Walsh and Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman finished with their second straight national title. Ali-Walsh led the Gaels on the ground, rushing 137 times for 1,462 yards (averaging 10.7 yards per carry and 121.8 yards per game), with 22 touchdowns, going for 100 yards or more in nine of the 12 games he played. He also caught two passes for 33 yards. He earned All-State, All-Southwest League and team Offensive MVP honors.
In his career, Al-Walsh -- who's struck up a close friendship with Marshawn Lynch -- rushed for career totals of 4508 yards and 65 touchdowns on the ground over 389 carries, to average 11.5 yards. He's caught 11 balls for 181 yards and three scores. He's fumbled only twice, and lost one.
He's caught 11 balls for 181 yards and three scores. He's fumbled only twice, and lost one.
COMMITMENT ANALYSIS: BIAGGIO ALI WALSH (Members)
SCOUTING REPORT: BIAGGIO ALI-WALSH (Members)
ANALYSIS: A Cal-Hi Sports First-Team All-State multi-purpose selection, Chase Garbers threw for 3,895 yards, completing 68.6% of his passes (254-for-370), with 47 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and a 137.1 quarterback rating. Garbers ranked second in Orange County in passing yards, completions, touchdowns and completion percentage to four-star Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei quarterback J.T. Daniels, and averaged 278.6 yards per game through the air.
Though Garbers is a passer, first and foremost, he rushed 114 times for 582 yards and 11 touchdowns, giving him 4,477 all-purpose yards, ranking first in the county, averaging 313.4 yards of total offense per game. Garbers benefitted from having, at his disposal, 2018 receiver Tae Le -- the county's second-most prolific receiver -- who hauled in 78 passes for 1,311 yards for 10 touchdowns.
Garbers was already a good fit in former offensive coordinator Jake Spavital's offense, but he's an even better fit with Beau Baldwin. It will still feature spread concepts, but with a spice of pro-style, something very familiar to Garbers. He'll have to adjust to being under center, but there's enough shotgun that he can work his way in. Garbers has a strong arm -- not exceptional -- and can make tough throws.
“Chase is one of the best quarterback prospects in the nation and has been unwavering in his commitment to Cal," said Wilcox. "He put up tremendous numbers in high school including an incredible touchdown to interception ratio but even more importantly he won a lot of games and his teams won league championships each of his four seasons.”
Of particular note is the fact that NFL receiver, and Cal alum, Bryce Treggs, has worked out with Garbers in the past, and said, "[the] Kid can spin it." That endorsement is even more impressive considering that it was a comment on a workout in which both Garbers and No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff were involved.
"At first, when I came out there, the first thing I thought was, he had great zip on the ball," Treggs said. "After the first pass he threw me, I went up to him and asked, 'What college do you go to?' I thought he was already in college, based on how he was throwing the ball. I was like, 'This dude can sling it.'"
TREGGS'S TAKE: He's ready to take on the hits and what it takes to be good at the Pac-12 level. He has some nice size on him. Like I said, I thought he was in college. I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself and say he's going to start right away, but I can definitely see him competing for a starting job. There's no doubt that he's going to. He fits the ball into tight windows, and he's durable, which is huge at the Pac-12 level, because he's going to take some hits.
EXPERT ANALYSIS: [Garbers] as a good arm and is rather cerebral with the football, rarely making mistakes and reading defenses well before the snap. He has the ability to put touch on his throws while rolling out of the pocket, and he delivers a very catchable ball, especially near the goal line where windows get tighter. -- Blair Angulo, Scout West Coast Analyst
GARBERS TALKS WILCOX, CAL FUTURE (Members)
CAL QB COMMIT REACTS TO DYKES DEPARTURE (Members)
SENIOR FILM: CAL QB COMMIT CHASE GARBERS (Members)
GAME FILM: CHASE GARBERS VS. EL TORO (Members)
EXPERT ANALYSIS: The fifth LOI to buzz into the Simpson Center. The uncle of Cal defensive back Jaylinn Hawkins, Jeremiah Hawkins has great quickness, is very good after the catch and is a natural pass catcher as well. He's an ideal slot receiver, a little undersized but makes up for it with his speed and ability to make plays after the catch. He's a very competitive player who plays with a chip on his shoulder and always comes to play ... He's a quick, explosive slot receiver, and a tough cover because of his clean routes, explosiveness in and out of his breaks and soft hands. He's very good after the catch and has the ability to take a short hitch, make 2-3 guys miss and pick up big yards. You can put him in the backfield as well and he should see time returning punts and kicks. Cal always does a nice job creating mismatches and getting their receivers in space and that plays in to what Hawkins excels at. He's also a highly competitive kid with a strong will to win and will be a great teammate. -- Biggins
STATS: As a senior, Hawkins tallied 24 carries for 350 yards and three touchdowns, while catching 25 balls for 375 yards in eight games. Over his three-year varsity career, Hawkins has caught 80 balls for 1,240 yards, averaging 15.5 yards per catch. He's caught 12 career touchdowns, and scored another six on the ground. He's taken two kickoffs back for touchdowns, with 318 career kickoff return yards on 11 take backs.
Coach Says: “We’re looking forward to the all-purpose skill-set Jeremiah will bring to our offense and kick return game," said head coach Justin Wilcox. "He made significant contributions as a wide receiver and running back as well as returning kicks as a prep, and we will take a look at him in all of those areas here as well.”
CAL COMMIT WILL CHECK OUT BIG 10 (Members)
FOR HAWKINS, IT'S ALL ABOUT FAMILY (Members)
CAL EXTENDS 2017, 2018 OFFERS ON MONDAY (Members)
Signing Day Additions
THE DECISION: After an official visit weekend, Smith will officially announce his commitment on FOX Sports between 2 and 3 p.m.
UPDATE 1:27 p.m.: Smith has announced for Cal, as expected.
EXPERT ANALYSIS: Branden Smith is a high level athlete with a ton of speed and is making plays at receiver, corner and in the return game. Smith has stepped up his game this year in a big way and is a legitimate high Div I prospect as a shut down corner or big play receiver. At receiver, he's an explosive kid who can get deep and runs very well after the catch. Defensively, he shows natural cover skills, breaks very well on the ball and has good ball skills as well. As a junior, Smith might have been better known for his work on the track. He had season bests of 10.67-100m and 21.57 in the 200m with both marks among the top 15 in the state. -- Biggins
THE DECISION: Moos, who took an official visit to Berkeley this past weekend, will decide between Cal, Fresno State and Louisville. He'll announce at 1:10 p.m.
UPDATE (11:36 a.m.): Moos has committed to the Bears.
ANALYSIS: The son of Washington State athletic director Bill Moos, Ben Moos visited Cal officially over the final weekend of the recruiting cycle, and snagged an offer from the Bears. The former Utah commit has Cal among his top three, including Fresno State and Louisville. He's dear friends with Bears defensive end Evan Weaver, and his mother is close with new head coach Justin Wilcox's mother, from Wilcox's playing days at Oregon, when the Ducks Athletic Director was Ben's father, Bill. Being from eastern Washington, the addition of Beau Baldwin as the offensive coordinator certainly helps Cal, especially since it seems increasingly likely that Baldwin will coach the tight ends. Moos's size means he could step in immediately and provide depth at the new tight end spot, behind veteran Ray Hudson, while a guy like Reinwald will take some time to build up size.
STATS and NOTES: Played tight end and defensive end at Pullman (Wash.) ... Younger brother of Bo Moos, defensive tackle for Arizona State ... Led his team in both receptions and receiving yards for each of his final three campaigns, compiling 125 receptions for 1670 yards receiving with 10 touchdown catches on offense while adding another six two-point conversion grabs to total 72 points ... Posted four-year defensive totals of 121 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries, one interception, three passes defended, three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
Moos earned first-team All-Great Northern League honors as a 2016 senior when he had 31 receptions and 352 yards receiving while co-leading his squad with a career-high-tying four touchdown receptions and pacing them with another team and career-high four two-point conversion receptions for a squad that was 8-3 overall, 4-0 in conference play to win a GNL title and reached the second round of the state’s 2A playoffs.
As a junior, Moos tallied 36 catches for 546 yards receiving with a career-high-tying four touchdown receptions, while putting up defensive career highs of 41 tackles, 3.5 sacks (-31 yards), three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception, as well as a career-high-tying one pass defended.
As a sophomore, Moos had 46 catches and 549 yards receiving along with one touchdown catch and a pair of two-point conversion receptions on offense, while adding 35 tackles, career highs of 7.0 tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries, 3.0 sacks (-14 yards) and a career-high-tying one pass defended.
CAL HUNTING A BIG MOOS (Members)
EXPERT ANALYSIS: In addition to cornerback for La Mirada, Hicks has contributed to his team as a wide receiver and kick returner this season. Hicks is rarely tested on defense in the passing game, but he still manages to make an impact in run support. Hicks does not hesitate to defeat blocks and contain the run. He has good height and length, which help him to extend his arms and control wide outs off the line of scrimmage in both running and passing situations. On special teams, he doesn't quite have the speed and quickness to completely allude tacklers in the open field. -- Gerard Martinez
ANOTHER TAKE: Hicks has the stride, lower-body power and physicality normally associated with someone possessing longer and larger dimensions. Hicks is a spring-loaded athlete. His ability to change directions on the slightest move by an opposing receiver indicates quality leg and hip strength. This is an athletic, tightly-wound, competitive football player who thrives on the challenge of being a lock-down corner as well as an explosive punt returner ... Hicks does not hesitate to press receivers at the line of scrimmage. He’s confident enough in his ability to recover in coverage to challenge a receiver off the snap. He uses his physicality to jam and re-route receivers. -- Tim Prister, Irish Illustrated, In the Film Room (members)
COACH SAYS: “Elijah showed his true commitment to Cal by arriving on campus as a mid-year enrollee when there was not even a new head coach in place yet. He had plenty of other opportunities but really wanted to come to Cal, and we are really happy that he is here and expect him to make a significant impact on our program. He is a versatile athlete and we expect him to be a key member of this recruiting class.” -- Justin Wilcox
NOTES: Hicks, a former Notre Dame commit, played his 2014 sophomore season at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, before transferring to La Mirada (Calif.). His two varsity teams combined for one state title, two Suburban Football League crowns and a 23-5 record while he totaled 1,324 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns. Hicks earned Whittier Daily News All-Area Player of the Year honors as a 2016 senior when he led his 11-3 squad to the CIF Southern Section finals and a SFL title for the second consecutive campaign while making strong contributions on both sides of the ball and special teams. As a receiver in 2016, he recorded 31 catches for 483 yards and five touchdowns, adding 40 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss (-6 yards) and five interceptions that he returned 15 yards on defense. He finished his senior year with 1,001 all-purpose yards and a total of 10 touchdowns with five receiving, three on punt returns including a 96-yarder, one kick return and one interception return.
As a junior, he caught 25 balls for 323 yards and four touchdowns on offense as well as 45 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks as a 2015 junior for a squad that won the state Division III-AA title, finished 13-3 overall and captured the SFL crown.
As a sophomore at St. John Bosco, Hicks had three tackles for a squad that finished 12-2 overall, reached the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division titles and won the Trinity League.
BTTV: CAL COACH JUSTIN WILCOX Q&A (MembErs)
IN THE FILM ROOM . . . ELIJAH HICKS (Members)
COMMITMENT ANALYSIS: ELIJAH HICKS (Members)
SENIOR TAPE OF FOUR-STAR CALI DB (Members)
ELIJAH HICKS ISO VIDEO (Members)
ANALYSIS: As the coaching staff has changed, so has Funches's role. Given that Wilcox and DeRuyter are flipping the 4-3 defense -- which has been recruited as such for the past four years -- to a 3-4, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Funches isn't going to be bulking up to play defensive end. He'll likely be gaining some size, but I think he slots in more as a pass rusher off the edge, or, as we've seen with Wilcox's defense at Wisconsin, a stand-up rush end. Bottom line: He'll be a linebacker, something that the Bears sorely need. Cal currently has seven scholarship linebackers (Funches would be eight), which means Funches won't be the only one dropping back. I can see Chinedu Udeogu moving from end to tackle, given his size (6-5, 255), and possibly Evan Weaver and Cameron Saffle moving to outside linebacker.
Funches committed to the Bears after an official visit with Patton in July, and was actually born in California, before moving out to Texas in his early childhood, and being raised in Dallas. He'll have two years to play two.
He was a first-team All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference pick this past season, racking up 64 tackles and 7.0 sacks, while he and Patton led TVCC o an 11-1 record, a second straight league title and a C.H.A.M.P.S. Heat of Texas Bowl win.
Over the last two seasons, Funches played in all 22 games possible, totaling 86 stops and 10.5 sacks.
COACH SAYS: “Alex signed at Cal before our staff arrived but he is just the body type we are looking for at defensive end or outside linebacker. He really blossomed during junior college and turned himself into someone who has the ability to make an immediate impact for us.” -- Justin Wilcox
ANALYSIS: Johnson, at the moment, is more of a big inside receiver than a true tight end, although that's where he's listed. I don't think he'll ever wind up as a true-blue attached-to-the-line, hand-in-the-dirt tight end, but he has the kind of frame to grow in to a hybrid tight end/h-back. He runs well and has no problem getting open, both in the intermediate routes and getting down the field. He has put on some good weight in the last year and will be a tough matchup for a linebacker or safety to handle at the next level.
EXPERT ANALYSIS: Johnson is a big receiver and more of a Y than a true hand-down tight end. His strength is in route running and catching the ball and he runs extremely well after the catch. He’ll be a good matchup problem for linebackers who can’t run with him or defensive backs who have the size disadvantage. -- Huffman
COACH SAYS: “Taariq is a big-bodied receiver who also had some experience as a tight end in high school and will fit nicely into what we want to do offensively. We’re glad that he is here on campus as a mid-year enrollee and will be able to get started right away.” -- Justin Wilcox
NOTES: A two-year varsity starter for Buena Park (Calif.), Johnson played in 19 games, with 61 receptions for 884 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches. Johnson had 27 catches for 407 receiving yards and four touchdown grabs in 10 games as a senior when his squad was 10-2 overall, 5-0 in the Freeway Football League to win a conference title and reached the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. He posted his career highs as a junior with 34 receptions, 477 receiving yards and six scoring grabs over 10 contests when his team was 10-3 overall, 4-1 in the Freeway Football League and won twice in the playoffs to reach the CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinals.
ANALYSIS: 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.
What's impressed me the most about Cherry is his toughness. During a summer camp at Cal, Cherry, who had already long been committed, was adamant about putting on the pads and competing. Cherry, in the course of that Friday's work, cracked one of his knuckles, and was held out for all of Saturday, despite practically begging the medical staff to cast up his injured hand so he could continue to play.
Cherry played as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 system, and, combined with his rawness, that means he could take some time to develop, when it comes to the finer points of playing in a 3-4. That said, his size, strength and speed are exceptional, and he looks like a college junior, already. With the hiring of Jerry Azzinaro as Cal's defensive line coach on Tuesday, he'll get coaching from an NFL coaching veteran, and someone who was key to some of the conference's best defensive lines in the latter years of the last decade.
NOTES: A three-year varsity starter who compiled career totals of 136 tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks (-35 yards), two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 23 quarterback hurries in 31 career games. As a senior, he made a career-high 60 stops, while adding 7.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks (career-high -20 yards) that were just shy of the career-best 8.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks (-15 yards) he put up as a junior, when he made 39 tackles and five quarterback hurries. Cherry also had a career-high-tying one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as a senior. In his first year playing defense in 2014, Cherry had 47 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries as a 2014 sophomore to go along with a career-high-tying one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The great nephew of former All-Pac-8 offensive lineman Duane Williams, who protected Joe Roth as his center, Cherry has grown up bleeding blue and gold.
COACH SAYS: “Gabe knew where he wanted to attend college early on and was the first player to verbally commit to Cal. He stuck with that commitment throughout the recruiting process and we’re excited to have him on campus early as a mid-year enrollee. He’s already a big, strong defensive lineman and we’re looking forward to watching his progress.”
GABE CHERRY CAN'T WAIT TO GET TO CAL (Members)
BREAKDOWN: GABE CHERRY AT CAL CAMP (Members)