On Thursday morning, the California football team got its fifth commitment since new head coach Sonny Dykes was announced as the Bears' new head coach, and after Dykes said his priority in recruiting this cycle would be to get bigger and deeper along the line of scrimmage, he landed his second offensive lineman in 6-foot-5, 265-pound Fountain Valley (Calif.) three-star offensive tackle J.D. Hinnant.
Hinnant held offers from Cal, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Duke, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, Washington and Washington State, but when he woke up on Thursday, he spoke with Dykes briefly, and then, no sooner had he put the phone down, he picked it back up again and called the Cal head coach to tell him that he was going to commit.
"I talked with coach Dykes and coach [Tony] Franklin this morning," Hinnant said, excitedly. "They loved it."
Hinnant of course had no shortage of options, but ever since he visited the Berkeley campus in July and then again before the game against Southern Utah, there was something about Cal that Hinnant couldn't shake, even after a change in coaching staffs. The previous regime – particularly Jim Michalczik and Marcus Arroyo – had been speaking with Hinnant more than any other staff in the country before their departures, but Hinnant steadfastly believes in the potential of this current group
"They're going to be a great coaching staff, there," Hinnant said. "I love the kind of offense they run, and it's close to home. It's a great education, too, so you can't really go wrong."
When Hinnant first met Franklin on an in-home visit, Franklin told him of how he likes his offensive linemen to be long and lean, and able to run. Hinnant is ready to roll up his sleeves and get rolling as soon as he can.
"I felt like he was just a great guy, and a great coach," Hinnant said. "It should be a fun time up there. He's a funny guy, for sure ... They were the second-highest scoring offense in the nation this past year, and I can see it's an offense that I'd love to be a part of. That definitely sounds good to me, for sure."
During that visit to Berkeley the weekend of Sept. 8, Hinnant looked, wide-eyed, at the new, $321 million renovation to California Memorial Stadium, with his mouth hanging open as he took in the new digs. Now, he'll get to call that stadium, ‘home.'
"I'm super-excited," Hinnant said. "It's going to be pretty sweet."
Hinnant has yet to speak with the new offensive line coach Chris Thomsen -- who was hired during the dead period, on Dec. 23 -- but he's excited to hear what Thomsen has to say.
"I haven't talked to him yet, but they said I can call and he'll talk to me," Hinnant said. "I'm going to call him tomorrow."
Hinnant is already acquainted with the other two offensive line commits in Cameron Hunt and Erik Bunte.
"I've talked to Cameron Hunt a little bit, and I haven't talked to Erik Bunte in a little bit, but I did a leadership camp thing with him back during the summer," Hinnant said. "That was back in June or July, I think."
Hinnant says that his parents both love Cal, and were "super happy," when he finally made his decision.
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