Incoming Cal class greater than sum
Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer
Cal football coach Jeff Tedford is expected to announce today an incoming class of 23 recruits that makes a statement much louder than the buzz surrounding any one name on the list. "Jeff Tedford and his staff have firmly established themselves as great recruiters," Rivals national recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree said. "When you talk about the top classes each and every year, Cal now has to at least be in the conversation." Crabtree estimates that when commitments are made official on national-letter-of-intent day, Rivals will rank the Bears' class in the top 25 for the fourth consecutive season despite the absence of a five-star recruit. Instead of making a splash with one big name, Cal's recruiting class is solid from top to bottom, fills needs and includes a bevy of linemen, who are difficult to grade. According to Scout.com, Cal is No. 15 in overall points, trailing only No. 5 USC and No. 8 Oregon in the Pac-10.
Cal's group includes 20 high school players and three junior-college transfers, and is especially strong at running back, linebacker and along the offensive line. By position, the class has five linebackers, four offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, two running backs, two wide receivers, two tight ends, two defensive backs, a quarterback and a punter. Under NCAA rules, coaches are prohibited from talking about their recruiting classes until they have the signed letters in hand. "They've done a great job of filling in with a lot of depth and solid guys who will grow into good players," Student Sports director of football Brian Stumpf said. The only national top-100 player on the list is Salesian-Richmond running back Jahvid Best, who was named to the Parade All-America squad, and he is joined by Valencia back Shane Vereen. "I'd be surprised if there's a better running back class in the nation," Crabtree said. The duo will get plenty of push up front from four-star recruits Matt Summers-Gavin, a guard from St. Ignatius who chose Cal over Notre Dame, and tackle Sam DeMartinis from Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks. Crabtree is also impressed with three-star guys Todd Huber (Palos Verdes Peninsula-Rolling Hills) and Mitchell Schwartz (Charter-Pacific Palisades). "I saw (Huber) just kill people at the Nike Camp," Crabtree said.
Similar praise was tossed toward linebacker Alex Cook, a top-30 junior college player out of Blinn College in Texas. The deep linebacker corps also includes four-star recruits D.J. Holt from Carmelite-Crespi and CCSF's Devin Bishop, the brother of the Pac-10's leading tackler Desmond Bishop. "That's how deep the group is: You forget about Holt, who will probably be a guy USC wished it would have offered a couple years down the line," Crabtree said. Among the eight out-of-staters are three from Hawaii. "That's definitely abnormal," said Stumpf, who lettered at Cal in 1997 and 1999. "When I was there, we maybe had one guy on the team from New Jersey or something, but Cal is building a program that is being seen more nationally." Most of the recruits are expected to redshirt. "Other than the JC guys, I don't see a lot of immediate impact," Crabtree said. "Maybe Best. He's too good not to find the field."