I remember a few years back I was listening to a certain KNBR radio show that I later got tired of because, among other reasons, the two hosts like to spend way too much time shilling for their alma maters which are nowhere near the Bay Area.
One particular host was gleefully boasting about how his recently downtrodden team had landed one of the top recruiting classes in the country, including the number one-rated linebacker who had spurned an offer from USC. The other host, whose school boasts a perennial top five team, was arrogantly blasting the notion that anything that happens on national signing day is of any importance (despite the fact that his team, coincidentally, always has some of the top rated classes). I don’t remember where it went from there, but I’m guessing it involved cutting off callers and arguing with them.
Anyway, that star linebacker turned out to be Heisman trophy finalist Manti Te’o (who wound receiving unconditional support from this particular KNBR show), and his recruiting class was instrumental in leading Notre Dame from mediocrity to an undefeated regular season in 2012.
The point is, while nothing on signing day guarantees success (or in the case of my alma mater, failure), it is often a good indicator of things to come. Scouting services are far from perfect, but schools that typically pull in highly rated classes year after year tend to pull in high rankings, year after year. It’s no secret that among Nick Saban’s greatest assets as a coach is his ability to recruit.
For the Cal Golden Bears, recruiting was never much of an issue during the Jeff Tedford era. The amount of ex-Bears in the NFL is proof of that. In fact, his inability to maximize his recruiting success, not to mention develop another quarterback out of the many highly-regarded ones he brought to Berkeley, was clearly his undoing.
New coach Sonny Dykes appears to have maintained the recruiting standards at Cal in his first year, having not lost many recruits who were verbally committed prior to his hiring. In fact, he did a nice job adding to the list of recruits Tedford compiled. In the process, Dykes has brought in some extra receivers to fill out his “Bear Raid” offense and started loading up his roster with extra defensive lineman as the Bears defense switches to a 4-3. He also landed a highly regarded quarterback.
Below is the list of 2013 signed recruits for Cal as announced by the school Wednesday:
Darius Allensworth, CB, Romoland, 5-11 175
Matt Anderson, PK, Danville, 6-0 175
Jack Austin, WR, Chino Hills, 6-3 205
Chris Borroyo, OL, Paramont, 6-5 290
Erik Bunte, OL, Mission Viejo, 6-7 310
Aaron Cochran, OT, Atwater, 6-8 320
Caleb Coleman, WR, Berkeley, 6-0 178
Ray Davison, OLB, Encino, 6-3 215
Jared Goff, QB, Kentfield, 6-4 190
J.D. Hinnant, OL, Fountain Valley, 6-3 267
Ray Hudson, TE, Pleasanton, 6-4 235
Garrett Hughes, DE, Corona, 6-2 230
Jacobi Hunter, DT, Houston, Tx, 6-0 285
Vince Johnson, OL, Sacramento, 6-5 257
Kyle Kragen, LB, Danville, 6-3 245
Marcus Manley, DT, Los Angeles, 6-2 279
Takkarist McKinley, DE, Richmond, 6-3 240
Tony Mekari, DT, Westlake, 6-3 260
Khalfani Muhammad, RB, Sherman Oaks, 5-8 174
Johnny Ragin III, OLB, Wilsonville, Ore., 6-3 215
Sione Sina, DE, Elk Grove, 6-4 245
Edward Tandy, LB, Tustin, 6-0 220
Cameron Walker, DB, Los Angeles, 5-10 180
Drake Whitehurst, WR, Portland, Ore., 6-6 215
Chad Whitener, MLB, Mansfield, Tx, 6-1 235
With 25 recruits and nearly all of them rated three-stars or higher, this class is sure to receive a lot of praise nationally, especially considering the coaching change at Cal. The gem of the class appears to be quarterback Jared Goff, who could immediately challenge Zach Kline as the Bear’s quarterback of the future.
Elswhere, Dykes and his staff landed players that in time should be able to contribute all over the field. The good news for fans that are worried about the defensive philosophy under Dykes is that in year one they have brought in quite a bit of talent on that side of the ball, including Bay Area standout defensive end Takkarist McKinley and highly regarded cornerback Darius Allensworth, who was originally a Teford commit that began to look elsewhere after his firing, before opting to remain with Cal.
With this class, Dykes has clearly tapped into his Texas roots, where he coached at Texas Tech and recruited often while at Louisiana Tech, having signed two players out of the Lone Star state. He also was able to reach up into Oregon, where he outdueled BYU and the Oregon Ducks for linebacker Johnny Ragin. Most importantly, Cal maintained a strong presence in California and the Bay Area in particular. Offensive tackle Aaron Cochrane comes to the Bears as a legacy, joining brother Matt on the offensive line.
If this class is any indication, Cal’s future may well be in good hands. Dykes has already had success as a coordinator in the Pac-12, before finding it as a head coach on the mid-major level. If he can hang with the likes of USC, Oregon and Washington in the Pac-12 recruiting battles, the Bears could be back as a consistent winner in a very short amount of time.