Cal Excites Whiteside

Newport Beach (Calif.) Newport Harbor linebacker Cecil Whiteside committed to Cal on Thursday afternoon after a few days mulling over his unofficial visit last weekend. He didn't have much of a chance to talk to anyone about his decision Thursday evening because of track commitments. On Friday, however, he told us about all the factors that excited him about becoming a Golden Bear…

Cecil Whiteside (6-2, 205) knows exactly what he wants. Choosing California over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Nebraska, San Diego State, Texas A&M, Utah, USC, and Washington was not a hasty decision.

"It's pretty big and exciting committing to Cal," said Whiteside.

As a junior, he was named first-team All-Sunset League and All-State underclass by CalHiSports.com. He was also the Newport-Mesa Dream Team Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Whiteside recorded 55 tackles and led his team with six sacks, eight quarterback hurries, and two blocked punts from his linebacker position in 2008. Doubling as a wide receiver, he added 33 receptions for 429 yards and seven touchdowns.

Whiteside is also one of the state's premier throwers. Last year, he placed sixth in the discus at the CIF state track and field championships. This year, he currently ranks in the top five in both the discus and shot put.

Furthering his decision to become a Bear was Coach Jeff Tedford's support of Whiteside continuing his throwing career at Berkeley.

"Academics and track, it's kind of a mixture," Whiteside said of the two main factors that put Cal atop his list. "The fact they stress academics, and they graduate [over] 90% of their football players. A Cal degree is real strong. I like the fact that they are okay with me playing track."

Nonetheless, he understands football may encompass his athletic career while in college, which could make track expendable. "I would like to throw," he added. "It would be ideal for me to throw."

The distance of the Bay Area also fit into Whiteside's plans. Cal is close enough for his family to watch him play, but he still can experience being away from home. "It's college, you don't want to me around home as much as you were in high school, that was a factor," he said.

Cal is recruiting Whiteside to play the hybrid weak side linebacker spot. It's a position very familiar to him. Not only did he watch former Bear Zack Follett lead the nation in tackles for loss last season, Whiteside wrecked havoc from the same spot for the Newport Harbor Sailors.

"Just coincidental, that I was looking at Cal and my high school recently switched to the 3-4," Whiteside said while brushing aside that Cal's 3-4 defense was a factor in his decision.

Golden Bear defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi is the main contact that developed a relationship with Whiteside. "We built a strong rapport," Whiteside said of Lupoi.

And Coach Lupoi's recruiting efforts still may be needed. Whiteside plans to take some official visits come fall.

Reason?

He is concerned about qualifying.

"I told [the coaches] that most likely going to be taking officials to other places just because of [Cal's] academics standards that I might not be able to get in," said Whiteside.

He currently maintains a 2.5 GPA. He does not take the SAT or ACT until later this spring. Whiteside, however, is confident he will pass with a sufficient score. Just in case, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and USC are the four schools he is considering as "backup" options.

Despite making an early commitment and a demanding track schedule, Whiteside plans to compete at the Nike Camp held at the Trojan campus on April 19. "The knack to compete, a lot of colleges stress competing," Whiteside of his reason to attend.

Whiteside is the second verbal commit of the 2010 Cal football recruiting class joining four-star defensive tackle Jay Guy.


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