Temecula (Calif.) Great Oak linebacker Jack Lamb scored his first major offer back in December, from California's old staff, and since then, he's piled up offers from UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Oregon, Washington, Washington State and Boise State. Still, he never forgot the Bears, even after their coaching change.
Two weeks ago, he got in touch with the new staff, including head coach Justin Wilcox and area recruiter Gerald Alexander. The offer, they said, still stood, as well it should. Lamb has since been rated a four-star outside linebacker, the No. 11 player at his position and the No. 119 player overall in the Scout 300. With spring break upon him, Lamb started out on a wide-ranging slate of visits, and after visiting Stanford on Friday, he turned his attention to Berkeley on Sunday.
"I really didn't talk much about my film with the other staff, but obviously, with coach Wilcox being more of a defensive-minded head coach, with his background, we got to talk a little bit more about what they see me doing for the team," Lamb said. "He mentioned more about how I have a lot of versatility as a linebacker, where I can play outside and inside, and that he could really see me playing both."
As soon as the offer was re-affirmed, Lamb and his family started planning his spring break sojourn. After Stanford and Cal, he'll head to Oregon, Washington and Penn State.
"For about 45 minutes to an hour, we toured the campus, saw all the buildings, went through the whole thing, and then we went back up to the facility, and I got to talk football, which is really fun," Lamb said. "What they run is a 3-4, and then rotate that in with a nickel formation, and they take out the nose guard, as opposed to taking out a linebacker, so they keep four linebackers on the field all the time, two outside and two inside, mostly. [Wilcox] likes the fact that I'm 6-4, but can still play like I'm around 6-foot-1, which most linebackers are, and still be able to run around and make tackles without sacrificing the speed that some guys do, when they get a little bit taller. He feels as though if they need me to rush off the end and use my length to be a pass rusher, they can do that, or fit me inside and have me stop the run."
An unusual combination of size and speed, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder fits the mold of Cal's new linebacker-heavy 3-4 defense, with players his size -- like Alex Funches -- being moved from defensive end to outside linebacker.
"We got to talk more about scheme and stuff like that, today," said Lamb, who brought his father Dan and his sister Meghann with him on a three-hour visit to campus. "It was me and coach Wilcox, coach Alexander and coach Tui [Marques Tuiasosopo]. Coach Alexander is the one who I originally started talking to. After he got there, I think it was about three weeks after they got settled down and re-evaluated everyone who they'd previously offered, and then they got back to me."
The weather cooperated with Lamb's trip, with clear skies and mid-70s temperatures, which afforded him and his family with an impressive site from the top of the California Memorial Stadium press box, where he saw all of San Francisco and Oakland -- "Just a great view," Lamb said, "I'll tell you that."
Lamb's checklist on the trip starts with making a good first impression, and the Bears certainly did that.
"They definitely left a really good impression on me," Lamb said. "Obviously, with them being further away, not so local, you don't really know what you're walking into until you get there. You can only talk about it so much, and I was really impressed with what they had to offer."
How did Cal and the Cardinal compare?
"Definitely two very different schools, both obviously with great academics, so there's nothing to worry about there, for those two," Lamb said. "As far as the football programs, Stanford's had more success over the past couple years, but I think, with this coaching change, Cal can definitely be on the come-up and have a couple of nice years."
The change from an offense-first mindset to a defense-oriented approach elevates Cal, now, in Lamb's mind.
"I'm looking for a coaching staff that's not going to dwell on the past -- if they were successful in the past, well, what are you going to do this year? What does the future look like for the team, and what can I do to help it?" Lamb said. "I did an interview when the coaching change first happened, and I talked about how I think they need a stronger defense. They've always been able to put up big points on offense, but you can't win a game 52-50. You've got to pitch a shutout once in a while, and they really hadn't been able to do that. I think bringing in a defensive coach, as a head coach, is really going to help them with that."
Lamb gave the Bears an 'A' for the trip.
"I had a great time," he said. "I had a great time with coaches, learned a lot of things that were important, and I feel like Cal's definitely a place where I can fit in."