It's been six years since California last offered a jumbo athlete -- fullback/linebacker Maximo Espitia -- but now that new head coach Justin Wilcox is bringing the tight end back into the fold, and a new, defense-centric philosophy to Strawberry Canyon, the Bears are looking for some big bodies.
On Wednesday, Wilcox and offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin got on the phone with 6-foot-4, 220-pound Trey McBride, a tight end/rush end out of Fort Morgan (Colo.), and extended him an open-ended scholarship offer.
"They kind of offered me as whatever," said McBride, who also scored an offer from Wyoming earlier in the day. "They are leaving it up to me. Whatever I want to play is what they'll do. I talked to the offensive coordinator, and then, he put me on the phone with coach Wilcox, and that's who offered me."
McBride was among a quintet of 2018 prospects who earned Cal offers on Wednesday, spanning the West Coast. The Bears also offered Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley offensive tackle Brandon Mello, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline offensive lineman Matthew Cindric, Wilsonville (Ore.) defensive end Draco Bynum and Salt Lake City (Utah) Olympus defensive end Cameron Latu.
"I got to talk to coach Wilcox and the Cal staff for a good 15 minutes or so, so that was cool just to kind of get to know them," McBride said. "They said that they want to get me out there, and hopefully, I can go up there and visit before long, to get a feel for the area."
It would be a way to get out of the Colorado cold, as well as a bit of a homecoming for McBride's mother, who grew up in Orange County. The main purpose, though, would be to see more of the new offense and defense in action.
"We talked briefly about the offense and defense," McBride said. "It was more about what they see in me, and stuff like that. Wilcox said that he uses a tight end now, and defensively, [I'd be] an outside linebacker kind of thing, kind of like a walk-up guy."
Last season, McBride rushed 17 times for 92 yards, completed 2-of-2 passes for 28 yards, caught 32 balls for 751 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns, led his team with 124 tackles and racked up a staggering 30.0 tackles for loss, including 7.5 sacks. He added three quarterback hurries for good measure, picked off two passes, deflected three more, forced one fumble and recovered one fumble, returning that for 35 yards.
Clearly a playmaker on both sides of the ball, even McBride doesn't know what he wants to do at the next level. The Bears can see him as a tight end, and as a stand-up rush end/outside linebacker-type athlete.
"I like them both," McBride said. "I enjoy catching the ball, and scoring touchdowns and stuff, but I also like sacking the quarterback. It's still up in the air, what I want to play. I enjoy offense, but it could go both ways. Wherever they're going to put me is where I'm going to go and make plays."
The Cowboys told McBride that they see him as a better fit for them as a tight end, but Colorado State and Northern Colorado are both open-ended, like Cal. The Bears are the first Power 5 team to offer McBride.
"It's tremendous," said McBride, whose uncle, Ross Barker, graduated from Cal. "It means a lot to me. It's kind of crazy. I didn't see it coming at all. It struck me, and it means a lot. It's a lot bigger school than the other schools that have offered me, and hopefully, it'll open more doors. For right now, it means a lot to know that bigger schools are interested, and Cal-Berkeley, for sure."
McBride has a 3.4 GPA, and is taking Honors English ("I've been in for my whole life, it seems like," he said), and is taking Pre-Calculus, with plans to take College Algebra next year. Just as with his positional future, his area of study is still up in the air.
"I haven't really thought too much about that," he said. "One of these days, I'm going to have to sit down and just look at all the different options. There's just so much to do."
It should be noted that Berkeley has the No. 1 English department in the nation, according to US News and World Report.
With spring ball set to start on March 15, McBride is thinking about visiting at some point during March or April.
"I have to sit down with my parents and talk to them, but that's a great consideration is getting out there and seeing the whole area, the facility, and seeing everything they've got to offer," McBride said.