Cal head coach Justin Wilcox introduces his first signing class on National Signing Day

BERKELEY -- Full video and transcript of new Cal head coach Justin Wilcox talking about his relationship with Bay Area coaches, and breaking down his first recruiting class, including who could play early. He also offers thoughts for offensive lineman Poutasi Poutasi during his time of mourning.

BERKELEY -- California head football coach Justin Wilcox is still wearing the same suit pants he wore on the day he was introduced as the Bears' new head coach, and the same suit pants he wore when he interviewed for the job in early January. It's been a whirlwind three weeks for the 40-year old Wilcox, and much of his staff, including Gerald Alexander and Nick Edwards, are still living out of their hotels, but Wednesday offered a chance to breathe, and to turn attention towards the next tasks at hand -- working with current players, filling the last few coaching vacancies (tight end, running backs, linebackers, special teams) and, of course, getting to work on the 2018 class. Before that, though, Wilcox introduced the 2017 bunch, his first as Cal's skipper. "It's an exciting day. It's been a hectic couple weeks, but we're glad to get here. It's a couple recruiting weekends, a lot of flights, a lot of hotels, a lot of rental cars, but it was all well worth it. I want to take this time again just to thank our administration -- [Athletic Director] Mike William and Chris Pezman -- all of our coaching staff, who did a phenomenal job in a short amount of time, our support staff who worked behind the scenes and do so many things for us to make this happen, and obviously our donors and our support outside the building, which has been exceptional. It took a lot of people to get this done, and we're thankful to all of them."

On the class: "This recruiting class, it's a unique time for us, but we felt like every guy that we signed in this class really fit the mold for us. From an athletic and talent standpoint, I think they're guys who can help us win championships, guys that value education, guys that want to be a teammate, and value the team, and guys that value the experience of being here at Cal and living in Berkeley, and that was important to us."

On positions (TE and LB): "We felt like, position-wise, we added a couple guys to help supplement what we felt like we needed. There are some guys who we felt can help us earlier than later, which will remain to be seen, but overall, really excited about the group. There were some guys who, we came in, and they were here before, and we had a chance to get to know pretty quickly, and they were phenomenal. Getting a chance to get to know them and their families, and them sticking to it, and believing in what we believe in, and believing in Cal. Then, [we got] a chance to get out and find some new guys, who we felt like really fit the profile for us, and are really excited to get."

"In the short term, our team has been in their offseason workouts. Our new strength coach got here, they've done an exceptional job of buying in, working out, weight room, on the field. We got a chance to get around them more and more, and will continue to do so. In the next week or so, our coaches are all going to get moved, we hope, and get back to work to get ready for spring football, which we all are excited to do. It took a lot of people to get to this point. We are extremely excited about our current team, and guys that we've had in this program, and we can't wait to get back to work." two weeks: "It was a lot of phone calls, it took a lot of people. Again, I can't say enough about our administration, our support staff, a lot of guys who are in the room right now. During the last couple weeks, recruiting, hiring and getting to know our current players, are all Priority One, and I think I said this before, but it really changed by the minute. Was it unique? Yeah, but in the end, we felt like the guys that are on our staff now, the players that we were able to sign, really fit what we're looking to do, and we're all thankful for that."

On getting six players on defense, which is an area of need, and if he was disappointed he couldn't get more: "We were very sensitive to the fact that we didn't want to reach on anybody. I think, in a time like this, whether it's coaches or recruits, you want to make sure that you get the right people in the program. We weren't going to sacrifice the health of our program in the long term, for something that we could get done in the next two or three days, or two weeks. We felt like we signed guys who could do just that. We're confident that those guys can come in and add value to our program, and in terms of the defensive positions, yeah, we're going to continue to recruit defense. We're going to continue to recruit offense, and build our roster the way we think we need it, and that takes more than one recruiting class, but that's how it goes."

On tight ends Ben Moos and Gavin Reinwald, can they step in right away: "We'll see. Both of those guys have big upside, Moos being more of a Y. He's a big body, catches the ball. Reinwald is more of an H, so we felt like those guys can kind of work in unison. We're going to continue to build that position. There's some guys on our team that we think also fit into that category, and in terms of how quick they help us, that'll really be determined once they get here." you have enough time to analyze the roster before you moved on to adding to it? "We felt like we were able to watch some video, and we're excited about our team. I think there have been some guys that got dinged up last year that will be able to help us once they get healthy. There's some returning guys on offense, so we're excited about the guys on our team, and we're going to do what's best for them, as we move forward from a scheme standpoint, from a coaching standpoint. I think it goes back to, we want to do what's right for our program, in the long run, and add some guys into our program that we feel like can help us. We feel like there's guys on the team that we've watched, and evaluated, who can help us, and we're excited to get to work with them in the spring."

Did you plan on having more linebackers and D-linemen in this class, and did not being able to get those hires done hurt that endeavor to get more defensive guys at those positions? "Yeah, we're really more worried about the guys we got. I'm not concerned with the guys that we didn't sign. Thankful that the guys we signed fit the mold for us, and like I said before, we weren't going to sacrifice anything for the short term certainty. We were making sure we were doing what's right for the program."

What do you think the strengths and weaknesses of this class are: "I think it goes back to the guys that fit the profile for us, guys that have the talent to help us compete for championships, and the guys that have the intangible things off the field to help build your team, guys that value the education, being a part of what we're doing here. It's hard to tell, really. You make your judgments based on what you see on the tape, and as you get to know them. But, we feel really, really good about the class, and as they come in, in summer and fall, and give them a chance to compete, you never know. Sometimes it's the guy that you thought maybe is the furthest away, and all of the sudden, he's playing in the first game. Those things will be determined once we get to fall."

Going after Bay Area guys, did you feel like you made some inroads with coaches and programs and maybe future recruits: "That's going to be important to our program, starting right here, in the Bay Area, and moving outward. A lot of our coaches, myself included, have relationships with these area guys, and we want to recruit the Bay Area, and the West -- California, Utah, Arizona -- everywhere in the West. We're going to do that. That's part of our staff's relationships. That'll be our plan. Doesn't mean we won't go recruit in Texas and Georgia and New Jersey. If there's a connection there, we will absolutely do that. But, we're going to make sure we start right here in the Bay." there anything special you look for while recruiting to the Pac-12, as opposed to the Big 10: "I think every conference has got their own unique styles of offenses you see, the defenses you see. You recruit really to what's best for your program. Again, it goes back to the guys that fit those profiles, and I know that's recruiting really good football players that value education and being a part of a team."

On Chase Garbers: "Chase is a very accurate thrower. He's won. He is a big, physical guy. He's got the intangibles. Once you get to know him, you kind of see he has that moxie that quarterbacks need. Really excited about him. He was committed before. We had a chance to go meet him. All of our coaches went down and met with him, and he was a big part of this. We're really fortunate to have him, excited to get him here."

Which, if any players, could make an immediate impact on defense: "That's a hard one to say. Every guy we recruited, we feel like has the ability and the talent and the intangibles to get us into contending for championships. Obviously, we got a JC player in here (Alex Funches), who, physically, might be a little bit more ready, but you just never know. I hate to say the front end. All those guys, we expect to come in, preparing like they're going to play, and then, once we get into fall camp, and into the season, or even halfway through the season sometimes, those things can change. That will remain to be seen."

What's your philosophy about building your relationship with Bay Area coaches? Do you plan to have a personal presence with those staffs, do you plan to visit a lot? "We're going to recruit the Bay Area. We're going to have those guys over here. We have a lot of personal relationships with a lot of those guys, either coaches that have been here, or myself, or coaches on our staff who have recruited this area before, so that's a big part of it for us, and we're excited to get them back over here, and like I said before, that's going to be a big part of it -- we're going to recruit the Bay Area and move outward." you tell us about Elijah Hicks's skills? "Elijah is a very athletic guy, he can do a lot of things, he's very, very smart. I think he's got a great story that speaks to the power of Cal, that he came here mid-year, amongst the coaching change, and we're really excited about him. He'll be a big part of this, moving forward."

How about Biaggio Ali-Walsh: "Biaggio is extremely fast. He's explosive. He can do a lot of different things out of the backfield. He creates big plays. He's a very competitive guy. He doesn't say a whole lot, but he was one of those guys who was committed before. We got a chance to go down and visit with [him], and we think he can bring a lot to our offense."

Do you have any timeline for hiring running backs, tight ends, linebackers and special teams coaches? "Yeah, it'll be sooner rather than later. I'm not going to put a date on it. There's reasons for that. Some of it had to do with the timing of where we were in the recruiting cycle. Yeah, sooner rather than later."

Is your class complete, or could there be one or two more: "There's always potential for that. There's always potential for that. Can't speak on people who haven't sent in a letter of intent."

How many positions were open on the 85 scholarships, and what do you see going forward? Will you keep flexibility? "I think it's a good thing to have a couple spots open. Obviously, a couple guys on our team, who have proved themselves, and as they prove themselves throughout spring, I think that's always important, and other things happen. You do not have to be at 85. Obviously, you want to keep a full, competitive roster, and we'll always work to do that, but it doesn't mean you always need to be right at 85. We will have roughly, we'll be right at, probably 80." How important was it to get Kyle Harmon, the local kid you did get: "Kyle's got a great story. I don't know how much you guys know about him. He is, on the field, a very productive player. He made a lot of plays for a lot of years. He is a very instinctive guy, he is very tough, plays very, very hard. He is, off the field, is nearly a 4.0 student, and has been through some adversity in his life, and he's a pretty special guy. We had the chance to get to know him pretty quickly, and had him on a visit this past weekend, offered him a scholarship and it was a pretty special time for him and his family."

"I think it's huge, him being local. You don't want to play against a guy like that. He has pride in where he's from, and being able to bring that over here, again, the intangibles he brings, along with the football part of it, we're excited to have him."

On Poutasi Poutasi losing his mother after he signed his letter of intent: "We've talked to Poutasi, and first and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, and we're going to do everything we can to support him and his family through this." Top Stories