As he was walking into his local Pine Lake Club gym on Wednesday, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline two-way lineman Matthew Cindric got a call from his high school coach, Mat Taylor. He had a message from new California offensive line coach Steve Greatwood.
"My high school coach, coach Taylor, told me that coach Greatwood wanted to give me a call, so I went into a bathroom, and called coach Greatwood," Cindric said. "He told me what they're doing at Cal, talked about the new coaching staff, and said he wanted to extend an offer to me, and beef up the O-line and D-line there at Cal."
As with fellow Wednesday offeree Trey McBride, the offer was somewhat open ended. Cindric has played offensive tackle, offensive guard and defensive end. Cindric made 32 tackles last season, including 9.0 tackles for loss, adding 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
"In the past, the old staff was focused on getting a lot of skill guys, but he said that they're really trying to focus now on getting big up front, and that's where he said I'd fit in," Cindric said. "They're getting bigger up front, and I'd be able to help them get a better O-line and D-line. They were saying that maybe I could play both, or either. They hadn't quite chosen yet."
Cindric has played defensive end and both guard and tackle on the offensive side, and his 6-foot-4, 265-pound frame allows him to develop on either side of the ball. Greatwood told Cindric he was impressed with his motor, his "relentless effort."
"That's something that's been instilled with me, from my parents, youth coaches, always giving great effort," Cindric said. "They said they liked my leadership, being a captain on the football team was something important. My ability to play, being out there, playing both sides, they liked my effort and how I was getting after it.
"Usually, on the D-line, we switch it up, but I mostly played D-end in our 3-4 defense. Offensively, I can play tackle or guard. This season, I played a lot of guard, just because of the personnel of my team. We had a guy who could really only play tackle, and wasn't quite a guard, so I'd play a lot of guard, to get him on the field. I think that's something that coaches like about me, is that I'm versatile, and I can play a lot of positions ... I love playing football. I don't really have a super-strong preference right now. That could change in the next year, but right now, I want to see where coaches see me. I have a few offers that are specifically one side of the ball, but I have a few where I would come in as an athlete, and see where I fit. I don't really have a true preference right now."
"I actually met him last year, when he was coaching up at Oregon, when they were recruiting Henry," Cindric said. "He was up at Skyline, and I got to meet him and talk to him a little bit, but I haven't really gotten to know him since he was at Cal. That was actually the first time I'd talked to him, was yesterday. [Oregon] had expressed interest in me. Before the coaching staff was re-done at Oregon, they were looking at me more at D-line than O-line, and from the Cal offer the coach Greatwood gave me, it's kind of both O-line and D-line."
Also a topic of discussion was the education that Cindric could get at Berkeley. Cindric has a 3.97 GPA, and said that education will play a big part in his eventual decision.
"That's pretty important for me," Cindric said. "Seeing that they're one of the top schools in the nation is pretty cool. I'm in the business club at my school, and I take a business class, and I really enjoy that. I think business is what I'd want to major in. He said that [Haas School of Business] was a top five school, or a top school, I can't remember whether it was nationwide or West Coast, but that was very impressive. I haven't done all my research yet, but I was very impressed with just the academics, knowing how reputable Cal is. It was pretty cool to get an offer where the school is so well-known for its academics."
During his call on Wednesday, Cindric talked with both Greatwood and Wilcox.
"I loved what they were saying about how Cal is moving in the right direction," Cindric said. "The atmosphere, the whole team is shifting, and they were saying how they were trying to start something new. Cal has been struggling a little bit, but they think that the direction that this whole coaching staff is going, they're going to get back to the top of the Pac-12. It sounds like a program headed in the right direction, and I liked what they were saying about the academics, and how they want us to be built for the future, and not just for the four years there."
"I watched U-dub a lot growing up, and my neighbor, Tony Chidiac, played there, so that was always cool to see him on TV, but I think, for me, I've kind of set aside where I've always watched teams, and I'm looking for a school that fits me best," Cindric said. "I think it'd be cool to play for the hometown team, but I want to go somewhere where I really think I can play, contribute and also do well, academically. I'm looking for that best fit, and not just a team that I've grown up watching."
So far, Cal grades out well in regards to those criteria.
"They're amazing," Cindric said. "Like I've been saying this entire time, the academics are just crazy there. You're going to get a great education. They're a team that I've been able to see all my life, so that's kind of cool. With the new coaching staff, I think they're going to build something pretty cool down there. I think they're definitely a school that I'll be strongly considering."
Cindric is currently on a one-week mid-winter break, but once he hits spring break, proper, he will head down to Los Angeles for a prospect camp in April, and check out USC while he's down there. He plans on attending the Trojans' spring game, which is set for April 15. He'll head to Corvallis for the Beavers' junior day on March 18, and hopes to go to the Cougars' junior day, as well, though he has an open invitation to see practice in Pullman.
"I know there's a NIKE Opening camp in Oakland, so I might go to that and check out Cal while I'm down there," Cindric said. "I definitely want to go out and see some different schools, before I decide whether I want to take an official visit there."
The Bears may have an ace in the hole, in terms of pulling Cindric. He was a freshman at Skyline when current Cal defensive end Cameron Saffle was a senior.
"I got to know him a little bit -- not too much -- but I'll definitely try to get in contact with him, and talk to him about Cal, and what he likes down there," Cindric said. "If I'm able to visit, maybe he'll show me around. It's cool knowing that there's a fellow Spartan over there at Cal. When I got the offer, I tagged him in a photo of Cal, and he tweeted at me, but that's the only interaction we've had [since the offer]."