Incoming Class Addresses Bears Needs

On signing day fans get excited about the 5-star recruits that their school signs. Every year, many players that received 5-stars do not live up to their expectations. While underrated players, prove they were not evaluated properly after becoming difference makers. Overall, the most important thing college coaches can accomplish on signing day is to fill their areas of need with talented players.

The California Golden Bears were not prepared at the start of the 2008 season to replace the production of DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan at the receiver position. As a result, the Bears passing game was not as good as it had been in previous years.

The area of concern heading into 2009 is replacing the linebacker trio of Zack Follett, Anthony Felder and Worrell Williams.

The Bears addressed many of their needs with this incoming class. In 2009, Cal will continue to utilize their 3-4 defense and the Bears must replace the senior trio.

Cal was able to bring in three linebackers from the junior college ranks in Blinn College's Jarred Price, San Jose City College's Jerome Meadows and Cerritos College's Ryan Davis, who played defensive end but will play outside linebacker at Cal. The Bears also signed local prep standout Steven Fanua out of Milpitas High School. With Michael Mohamed and Eddie Young returning, Cal should have a number of options to choose from to keep this unit strong.

Cal has its entire secondary returning led by Syd'Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan, but the Bears will lose Thompson after the ‘09 season.

Cal did a great job of bringing in two of the best cornerbacks in the nation in Dallas (Tex.) Skyline's Steve Williams and Lynwood's Vachel Samuels. Incoming freshmen safety Alex Logan out of Denver (Colo.) Mullen is also highly touted. Williams and Samuels will get the opportunity to learn from the best corner in the conference in Thompson. They will become familiar with the defensive scheme. At the start of the 2010 season, Williams, Samuels, and Logan should be ready for an expanded role.

The Bears addressed needs on the line signing a bullish defensive tackle in Keni Kaufusi out of Salt Lake City Cottonwood High School. Moreover, talented defensive tackle Deandre Coleman can play on either side of the line. The All-American Coleman played offensive tackle in the U.S. Army American game, but the Bears expect him to contribute as a defensive end in the 3-4 defense.

One of the strengths of the Bears is the offensive line. Last season, a handful of young players received a lot of playing time along the offensive line. Many of those players will continue to be major contributors next year.

Incoming Somerville (NJ) Immaculata All-American center Mark Brazinski will compete to fill the spot of Walter Camp All-American center Alex Mack. Despite losing four-star Kapolei guard Stan Hasiak, the Bears brought in quality recruits in Eugene (Ore.) Sheldon offensive tackle Charles Siddoway and Oceanside guard Brian Schwenke. Both could push players like Mitchell Schwartz, Mark Boskovich and Donovan Edwards early in their careers. Denver Mullen's Charles Ragland is the future left tackle; he may be the only player expected to redshirt after playing just two years of high school football.

Cal added a lot of depth on the offensive line. If an injury occurs, a player should be able step in and play at a high level. These young players will be opening holes up for local standout running back Dasarte Yarnway out of San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in the near future. The Bears are at a point that if they keep adding players to this unit year after year they should not experience a down year on the offensive line.

The most important position on the field is the quarterback and the Bears have been searching for a player on the same level as Aaron Rodgers for a number of years.

Someone is going to have to step up at this position and play at an elite level if Cal has plans on beating USC, winning the Pac-10 conference title and earning a berth to the Rose Bowl. The best way to handle the position is the way the Trojans have done it over the last six seasons. One player sits for two years, learns the system and is ready to step in and produce in their third and fourth year.

If Kevin Riley can continue to get better and play at a high level for the next two seasons Tedford will be able to groom U.S. Army All-American four-star recruit Allan Bridgford for two years before he has to play. All this program needs is for a quarterback to excel and the Bears could easily be a top 10 team.

However, a quarterback must have capable targets. While Cal did not come close to replacing its 2007 wide receiver production – as stated earlier – with its 2008 class, the holdovers from last year with the addition of Compton College's Markish Jones this year should finally get this unit at least up to par. At the very least, Jones is a legitimate threat to stretch the field, something Cal lacked last season.

The Bears did a great job of targeting their areas of need with this class even signing Lake Forest El Toro kicker Vince D'Amato to improve the lackluster kickoff team. This was a very good recruiting class in terms of filling needs. If victories continue to pile up, so will the talented depth on this team. If Cal can reach double digits in wins this year and with continuing progress to improve the facilities, the 2010 recruiting class should be better.

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