Saturday, February 28, 2009

Contra Costa Times: Cal's slow-moving alliance gets up to speed


Jonathan Okanes

New Cal offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig had been on the job five days when he jokingly was asked why he wasn't completely up to speed yet.  "Well, it's not the end of the fifth day yet," he said. "I've got a couple of hours left."  Ludwig's eagerness is apparent. The Danville native couldn't be happier about his move to Berkeley, partly because of his East Bay roots and partly because of his longstanding relationship with coach Jeff Tedford. "We've talked different times about job opportunities," Ludwig said. "When this one came up, I felt like it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

But the Cal job wasn't a slam dunk. Two months earlier, Ludwig left Utah to become the offensive coordinator at Kansas State. He barely had time to learn the Wildcats' personnel when Tedford came calling.

"It was very difficult to leave the way I did," Ludwig said. "This is where I wanted to be, but it was a tough circumstance. I knew I would have to work through that." Ludwig has spent much of his career following Tedford. When Tedford left his job as offensive coordinator at Fresno State to go to Oregon, Ludwig replaced him. When Tedford left Oregon to become Cal's coach, Ludwig took his job again. Even though they never actually worked on the same staff, Tedford and Ludwig developed a relationship. "We've been around the same offenses and we talk a lot," Tedford said. "I've always really respected everything that he's done. He continues to do a great job. He's a really knowledgeable guy, a really poised guy — a guy that I think is really going to take great command of the offense. I have a lot of confidence in him."  Tedford said he considered Ludwig last year before ultimately hiring Frank Cignetti, who was considering another job. That forced Tedford into a quick decision. Cignetti left Cal last month to become the offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh.

"It was just a timing issue," Tedford said. "If there would have been more time, I probably would have went into the process a little bit more. I had to make a decision before I really got a chance to go through the whole process." Ludwig spent the past four years at Utah, where he helped the Utes become the nation's only undefeated team last season and earn a No. 2 ranking in the final national polls. The Utes employ the spread offense, but Ludwig said his philosophy is simply implement the offense best suited to his personnel.

"At Cal, they have a style of play that I haven't been involved with the last couple of years," Ludwig said. "But I think Coach Tedford and I have a common philosophy. It's more about the players than the plays. You put together an offense that highlights the guys' skills and abilities."


Contra Costa Times: Jon Wilner Praises Hiring of Ludwig



“Cal Coach Jeff Tedford wastes no time replacing departed offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti with longtime pal Andy Ludwig, who succeeded Tedford as the playcaller at Fresno State and Oregon.  Reaction: It's the best offensive coordinator hire Tedford has made in his Berkeley tenure. Ludwig's strength isn't implementing systems, it's coaching quarterbacks — and that's what the Bears need most. There's nothing wrong with the playbook. They need a quarterback who can execute it.”


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kansas City Star: K-State loses assistant coach to Cal


In his second stint as Kansas State coach, Bill Snyder has suffered his first loss.  Andy Ludwig, the former Utah offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Snyder was said to have handpicked to guide the Wildcats’ offense, is leaving Manhattan to join California as the Golden Bears’ offensive coordinator. The move was announced today by California. There wasn’t a comment from K-State.  Ludwig helped guide the Utes to a 13-0 record, including an upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He is known as a terrific quarterback tutor, and Ludwig was viewed as perhaps Snyder’s biggest hiring coup – along with former Clemson co-defensive coordinator Vic Koenning.

But he’s gone, off to Berkeley, where he’ll work for Cal coach Jeff Tedford. Ludwig and Tedford have never worked together, but they share common previous places of employment at Fresno State and Oregon.  “I am happy and excited to have Andy join our staff,” Tedford said in a statement. “I’ve kept in touch with him over the years and followed his career, and we have a lot of history together. Andy is an excellent coach, which is evident by his guiding Utah to an undefeated record last year. He is an outstanding offensive coordinator and play caller.”  A K-State replacement could come from within.   Dana Dimel, a former K-State assistant that left Arizona to join Snyder’s staff Feb. 13 as running backs coach, was the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator in 1995-96. Ditto for Del Miller, another former assistant with a long history as Snyder’s right-hand man who has been added to the new coaching staff in a capacity that has yet to be formally announced.

Salt Lake Tribune: Ludwig leaves K-State for Cal


Former Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said he couldn't turn down the opportunity to coach with legend Bill Snyder at Kansas State when he accepted the offer to be K-State's offensive coordinator. Evidently, the chance to coach at Cal was even more tantalizing.  Ludwig was announced as Cal's new offensive coordinator Friday, replacing Frank Cignetti, who left Cal to fill the same position at Pittsburgh.

Ludwig, who was with the Utes from 2005 through 2008, also had coaching stints at Oregon (2002-04), Fresno State (1998-01) and Cal Poly (1997).   At Cal, Ludwig will coach along with Jeff Tedford. The two have never coached together, but Ludwig was Tedford's successor as the offensive coordinator at both Fresno State and Oregon when Tedford left those positions.  "I've kept in touch with him over the years and followed his career, and we have a lot of history together," Tedford said in a press release. "Andy is an excellent coach, which is evident by his guiding Utah to an undefeated record last year. He is an outstanding offensive coordinator and play caller."  Ludwig was announced as Kansas State's offensive coordinator on Dec. 17, but helped coach the Utes through the Sugar Bowl.

Contra Costa Times: Tedford, Ludwig so happy together

Jonathan Okanes


Andy Ludwig finally caught up to Jeff Tedford.  After replacing Tedford as offensive coordinator at Fresno State in 1998 and at Oregon in 2002, Ludwig joined Tedford's staff Friday when he was named Cal's new offensive coordinator. Ludwig replaces Frank Cignetti, who left the Bears on Wednesday after one season to become the offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh.  Ludwig comes to Cal from Kansas State — sort of. He spent the past four seasons as the offensive coordinator at Utah and last season helped the Utes to a 13-0 record and final No. 2 ranking nationally after beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He was hired as Kansas State's offensive coordinator after the season but spent less than two months there before Tedford came calling.  Tedford said Ludwig will call the offensive plays.

"I am happy and excited to have Andy join our staff," Tedford said in a statement. "I've kept in touch with him over the years and followed his career, and we have a lot of history together. Andy is an excellent coach, which is evident by his guiding Utah to an undefeated record last year. He is an outstanding offensive coordinator and play caller." Ludwig was traveling Friday and unavailable for comment. Ludwig has been offensive coordinator at four different stops, not counting Kansas State — Utah, Oregon, Fresno State and Cal Poly. He hasn't been free from criticism recently, as some fans in Oregon and Utah voiced complaints about the offense. But the Utes ranked 15th nationally last season in scoring (37 ppg) and 35th in total offense (401 ypg).

Tedford didn't waste time replacing Cignetti, who was hired last January to call plays and allow Tedford to become more of an overseer of the program. Tedford, who has alternated calling plays during his seven years at Cal, said near the end of last season that he thought alleviating the burden of calling the plays had a positive effect.  Ludwig, who will also serve as quarterbacks coach, will try to improve a passing game that ranked 83rd nationally last season. Ludwig will be on board to start evaluating the quarterback competition between Kevin Riley and Brock Mansion, which will begin with spring practice on March 10.

Jon Wilner's Thoughts on Cignetti's Departure


“Here's how I'd rank the departures of Cal offensive personnel in terms of the impact on next season, from most to least significant:

Center Alex Mack, offensive-line coach Jim Michalczik, fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou, tight end Cameron Morrah, guard Noris Malele, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti.  So Cignetti just accepted a similar position at Pittsburgh. Wake me when it matters.  Does anyone think the Bears benefitted significantly from Cignetti's presence? That the play-calling was dynamic? That the quarterbacks were well-coached?  Obviously, the offensive problems were not all Cignetti's doing. Coach Jeff Tedford is responsible for the playbook and the personnel and how both are used.  And that's the point here: It's not that Cignetti screwed up, or isn't capable. But the areas under his control didn't exactly shine, and ultimately Tedford's running the show anyhow.”



Thursday, February 19, 2009

SF Examiner: Cal looking for an offensive coordinator

By Rob Calonge

Jeff Tedford will be searching for another offensive coordinator this offseason after Frank Cignetti accepted the same position with the Pitt Panthers of the Big East.  It's not an ideal situation for the Bears who lost their offensive line coach, Jim MIchalczik, to the Huskies prior to their Emerald Bowl victory.  Say what you will about Cignetti's stint at Cal, but don't say that he hasn't been successful.  Under Cignetti's guidance, the scoring offense improved from 29.31 points-per-game to 32.62.  The rest of the numbers seem a little more shaky.

Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pittsburgh Tribune: Cignetti Leaves Cal for Pitt


Frank Cignetti Jr. has accepted Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt's offer to become the Panthers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, a Pitt source confirmed. Cignetti will be formally introduced today at a news conference at 3:45 p.m. at Pitt's Duratz Athletic Complex on the South Side. Cignetti, 43, spent the past season in the same role at the University of California. He will replace Matt Cavanaugh, who left earlier this month after four seasons to become quarterbacks coach for the N.Y. Jets. From the outset, Wannstedt said the Panthers would continue to run a pro-style offense and, like Cavanaugh, Cignetti is expected to direct a West Coast system with an emphasis on the running game.  Cal averaged 186.2 rushing yards per game last season to rank 29th in the NCAA, and boasted the nation's No. 3 rusher in Jahvid Best and 79th in Shane Vereen.  Perhaps most important, Cignetti also has a reputation for developing quarterbacks and being an energetic recruiter — both areas of concern at Pitt under Cavanaugh, whose signal-callers struggled the past two seasons.

Prior to joining Jeff Tedford's staff at Cal, Cignetti was offensive coordinator at North Carolina (2006) and Fresno State ('02-05), quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers ('07) and New Orleans Saints ('00-01) and an offensive quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs (1999). His began his career as a Pitt graduate assistant under Mike Gottfried in '89 before working at Indiana (Pa.) University from '90-98.  A Pittsburgh native and graduate of Indiana High School and IUP, Cignetti has strong college football family ties to Western Pennsylvania. His father, Frank Sr., is a former Pitt assistant in the late 1960s and West Virginia head coach in the late '70s who became a highly successful coach at IUP.

His brother, Curt, was a Pitt assistant in the '90s under Johnny Majors and Walt Harris, and is now the receivers coach/recruiting coordinator at Alabama.

ESPN: Cal Bears Mike Tepper and Rulon Davis have little in common, besides the way each of them almost died

By Tim Keown


What would you remember?

Mike Tepper remembers the shoe, a size-15 black Vans skateboarding shoe. A week later, it was still there, propped up against the curb at the busy corner of Dwight and Telegraph, in a stain of dried blood.  He was in a wheelchair, on his way to a summer school class for the first time since the incident, and the sight of the shoe stopped him. A City of Berkeley cleanup crew was finally getting around to power-washing the blood off the street and the sidewalk.  That was him they were cleaning up. He stopped and watched, struck by how hard they had to work to lift the blood, his blood, out of the concrete and asphalt. Back and forth, back and forth, water lifting him, drop by drop, off the street. Tepper considered apologizing for the mess but said nothing.  People walked past, oblivious, sidestepping the enormous young man in the wheelchair who was watching the crew go about its mundane task. It was a private scene in a public place.  Of course, he also remembers what happened after midnight on June 26, 2005, or at least the blur of it all. He remembers the guys in the green car—there were four of them—popping off, propositioning his friend Camille Leffall. He told them to shut up; they told him to stay out of it. Two of them were ex-cons, used to this kind of thing. They hung out the windows, telling Camille to get in the car, and Mike—big, friendly Mike—told them he'd heard enough.

It was a confrontation as old as man. But then the driver slammed the car into reverse and swung it toward Mike and Camille. Here, in the seven to 10 seconds he estimates it took his life to change, is where things get hazy. As Mike lunged to get out of the way, his huge right arm swung back and clotheslined Camille, driving her clear of the onrushing vehicle. He's an offensive tackle, after all, used to moving bodies. Camille, a volleyball player at Berkeley, escaped with a few cuts and bruises. Was his intervention intentional? Heroic, even? Mike says it was just instinct.  The car knocked him down and rolled over his right leg, near the ankle. Before he could move, the vehicle was changing direction, going forward now, and thumping over his leg one more time. He dug his fingers into a sewer grate to avoid being dragged down the street.  I just got run over by a car, and I'm still alive, was his first thought. His second? It's a Chrysler, with the same rims as Dad's. His mom, his dad, the rest of his family, his longtime sweetheart Angela Vullo—they all glided through his mind.

He remembers the blood pooling around his leg, expanding in all directions, his jeans soaked red. He started thinking he might die after all. I'm going to lose the people I love most. It all seemed so wrong. Looking down, he saw a bone near his ankle, outside his body.

That's not good. He struggled to get to his feet, all 300-plus pounds of him, and stumbled forward about 20 feet, his fibula broken in four places, the tibia sticking out of the side of his leg and his right foot turned 90° to the outside.  And he remembers a police officer named Jessica. She looked like Angela. He remembers her French braid, and how her words told him to be calm as her look of alarm said something different. He was walking around with a foot that wasn't connected in any significant way to his ankle, and he doesn't remember feeling any pain. But he was in shock, so who knows? How do you trust the memories created in that condition? Did Jessica even exist? He has never asked Camille about her; he's completely open to the idea that she is a figment of his imagination.

The news crews showed up the next day. They interviewed him as he lay in his recliner at the house he shared with three teammates. The guys in the green Chrysler were caught, and Camille was okay, so the reporters called Tepper a hero and patted him on the back and shook his hand. His head was filled with painkillers, but they didn't notice. They were sorry for his injuries, but damn, what a story! Cal football player saves girl from car filled with marauding thugs, gets run over—twice!—and lives to tell about it.  They wished him luck and moved on to the next tale of heroes and villains. Tepper didn't move on quite so easily. The episode messed with his mind as well as his body. He couldn't sleep or focus or comprehend what had happened. The sight of that shoe hit him hard. He dropped out of school for a semester. He didn't feel like a hero, no matter what they said.

WHAT WOULD go through your mind?

Rulon Davis was underneath a big rig, looking at four tires that were about to roll over his calves, and he was hearing the words of his junior college football coach. Don't do it, the coach had said. You're crazy to get that bike.  Everyone else had told him the same thing. Mom, Dad, friends. Yet the first voice he heard was that of Bill Fisk, his old head coach at Mt. San Antonio in Los Angeles County. Who knows how the mind works? Not that it mattered; Rulon didn't listen to any of them, and now his Suzuki GSXR 1300—crotch rocket supreme—was sliding down the I-10/605 interchange outside of LA without him. Rulon, meanwhile, was staring at the underside of a semi, desperately scrambling on all fours to escape.  This is not a man who is easily scared. The San Diego native spent almost four years in the Marines, including six months in Iraq. But the truth was, this bike scared the hell out of him from the moment he straddled it. Rulon had fallen off three times in the first four months. Shouldn't that have been proof that Coach Fisk and his mom and dad and friends were right?  Imagine the feeling: getting bumped from behind and thrown from your bike, then skidding across the pavement and underneath a truck. The rig was still moving, its driver unaware of the 6'5" 275-pound man who had slid dangerously close to the right rear wheels. Rulon's military and football training taught him to keep moving—it's always better to do something—so he crawled toward … where? Was there a right direction? It was July 13, 2005, and he was going to die. In the few seconds he had to comprehend that, all he could come up with was: Coach was right. They were all right.

The tires, two sets of rear-axle dualies, rolled over his calves. I should have listened, and now I'm going to die. Then he saw the stopped traffic behind him as the semi came to a halt in front of him. I just got run over by a big rig, and I'm still alive. It didn't seem possible, any of it.  Fire trucks came, then an ambulance, but all he wanted to do was call his mom. Let her know what happened and let her know he was going to be all right. Sylvia Davis worked in the advertising department at the Los Angeles Times. He punched in her office number and felt better as soon as he heard her voice.  A firefighter came up and looked at his legs. Rulon asked, "Am I going to play football again?" The guy told him to move his legs and he did, amazingly. "Yeah, you're going to play football again," was the reply.  He was probably just trying to make Rulon feel better. The firefighter couldn't have known he was examining a living miracle who hadn't even broken any bones. And he couldn't possibly have known that Rulon could keep playing football. The safe move with a man 6'5" and 275 is to tell him what he wants to hear. But it's also the kind move when he lies prone on the highway

WHAT BRINGS people together?

There are more than a hundred football players on each of a hundred different college teams across the country. What are the odds that two guys—run over within three weeks of each other—would wind up on the same team?  Is it fate, or chance?  Their stories do not come off the top of the Cal Bears' depth chart. To find Tepper and Davis, you have to bypass Marshawn Lynch and Nate Longshore and Daymeion Hughes and Desmond Bishop and DeSean Jackson, the stars of a team that has a chance to take the program to its first Rose Bowl since 1959. The story of the two healed players is not of the feel-good variety. Theirs is a story with, well, more legs.  They couldn't be more different. Davis is a madeto-order defensive end with great potential as a pass-rusher. He came to Cal after his Marine stint and two years of junior college. He's a sophomore athletically, but at 23, he's older and more worldly than others in his class, with the smooth, low voice of a late-night jazz-station DJ.  Tepper is 6'6", 336, a standard-issue mountain of an offensive tackle who has started two games but mostly provides depth. The 20-year-old sophomore runs slowly and with a little hitch, which is to be expected, but he is one of the strongest players on the team and a goofy, excitable presence.  Davis, who politely declines to discuss his tour of duty in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, weighs each word. Tepper has few unspoken thoughts. Davis is black, Tepper white. Tepper is from the OC, Davis is not.  

Yet, as Davis says, "There's a commonality between us, a bond. No other man on this team, and no other man I know, knows what it's like to be run over."  Davis didn't know his compatriot's tale until one day last February, when he was talking with his roommate, offensive lineman Bryan Deemer. As Davis described his ordeal with the motorcycle and the big rig, Deemer said, "Wait a minute. Tepper got run over too." The two get teased occasionally by their teammates, especially Tepper, the goofy one. He hears stuff like, "You know, Rulon got hit by a semi and didn't break anything."  After a Sunday evening practice in early October, Tepper is asked if he knows why a reporter wants to talk to him and Davis together. He says matter-offactly "Cuz we both got run over." As Davis jogs over to meet him, Tepper gets up and asks, "Rulon, why do you think someone wants to interview us together?"  "Because we both got run over," and they laugh and high-five.  But a week before, they weren't laughing. Both happened to arrive 10 minutes early for their Sociology of Culture class. They sat outside the room and talked, the conversation expanding from football to motorcycles to their shared experience.

Despite knowing each other's stories, they had never broached the subject before.  

"Does it ever still bother you?" Davis asked.  "Oh, yeah," Tepper said, and proceeded to launch into a tale of sleeplessness and guilt and depression. He told Rulon about the emergency-room doctor who told him amputation was a strong possibility, and Rulon told Mike about the month he spent in the hospital after his legs became infected, and the three weeks he spent bedridden, and the discharge bag they attached to his leg to drain the and blood.

They nodded at each other's words. Tepper told Davis about a cop taking photos as he lay in the street, and Davis told Tepper about the ambulance going against stopped traffic on the 10 freeway. Tepper, familiar with LA, said, "That's awesome."  Finally, he said, "You should talk to one of the counselors and get some help. I did."  Davis felt relief when he heard the advice and vows to have that conversation. "I realized I still haven't come to grips with what happened," he says now. "I just try to think it never happened."  On this Sunday night in October, Tepper sits in the first row of the stands at Cal's Memorial Stadium. Davis is facing him, perched on the wall that separates the field from the fans. This is no longer an interview; it's two guys talking.  "I can handle the football stuff," Tepper says. "This is different. There are some things you just can't handle on your own. Your mind can play tricks on you. Who knows? If I had sought counseling earlier, maybe I wouldn't have had to withdraw from school for a semester."  These days, Davis won't even ride a bicycle. "The pain isn't what I remember," he says. "I remember the feeling that I was going to die."  

Not only did Tepper and Davis survive, they're back on the field a year later. What are the odds? "Look at a semi next time it goes by," says Cal offensive line coach Jim Michalczik. "Then think about it running over you. And then think about being run over twice by a car. For these guys to come back seems impossible."  Tepper hopes to regain enough mobility to play in the NFL. Davis, who had 16.5 sacks in his first season at Mt. San Antonio, worries that missing a year of practice has set him back irreparably. "I wonder how much better I could have been," he says. "I still haven't figured out if my injury has affected me as an athlete."  Head coach Jeff Tedford has a motto: United we are strong. Sure, it's corny, and variations abound throughout every level of football. But just because it's a cliché doesn't mean it can't be true.  "The base of it all is trust," Davis says. "When I open up to Mike and share personal information I wouldn't normally share with anybody, that's my way of saying I trust him." What brings people together? A sport, a team, a shared experience that goes beyond pain and probability? Fate, or chance?


Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Pitt talks to Cal coordinator


University of California offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. flew into Pittsburgh Tuesday for an interview with Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, according to sources.  Sources also said Cignetti, 43, is considered the leading candidate to become the Panthers' offensive coordinator, a job that came open when Matt Cavanaugh left earlier this month to become quarterbacks coach for the NFL's New York Jets.  Cignetti is the son and namesake of the legendary Indiana University (Pa.) coach. An all-conference safety at Division II IUP, the younger Cignetti was a graduate assistant at Pitt in 1989 before coaching a variety of positions under his father from 1990-98.  Cignetti spent one season as an offensive assistant and quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs in '99 and two seasons as the New Orleans Saints' quarterback coach. He was the offensive coordinator at Fresno State from 2002-05 and held the same role at North Carolina in '06. After one season as the San Francisco 49ers' quarterbacks coach, Cignetti joined Jeff Tedford's staff at Cal. The Golden Bears ranked 47th nationally in total offense at 376 yards per game and 27th in scoring at 32.6 points.

Cignetti's father was a Pitt assistant from 1966-68 and later the head coach at West Virginia from 1976-79. His older brother, Curt, was a Pitt assistant under Johnny Majors and Harris in the mid-1990s and is now at Alabama. Where Cignetti moved to the forefront of Pitt's coaching search, former Panthers coach Walt Harris will return to coaching after a two-year hiatus. The University of Akron is expected to formally announce today the hiring of Harris as its quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator. Harris, Pitt's head coach from 1997-2004, will join the staff of J.D. Brookhart, who spent five seasons as the Panthers' offensive coordinator and receivers coach.  Harris declined comment Tuesday night. Harris was a candidate for Pitt's opening for an offensive coordinator.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cal's Williams sets sights on NFL

By Joe Davidson


Name: Worrell Williams

Local tie: Grant High School

The skinny: Williams has gone from goal-line stands in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs to spirited showdowns with national rankings hanging in the balance at Cal to this: a chance to freshen up his résumé for the NFL draft. The linebacker will participate this week in the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis with hopes of being the fourth Pacers player to be drafted this decade. Previous Grant draftees were Donte' Stallworth, Onterrio Smith and Paris Warren (C.J. Wallace is a member of the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted defensive back).

Résumé building: Williams was recruited as a fullback and/or linebacker after a dominating senior season with Grant. Though he was a four-year starter at Cal on defense, he regularly pleaded with Cal coach Jeff Tedford to let him play some fullback. The coach never budged, though Tedford told The Bee last August, "No one player bugs me more about such stuff. I won't listen." Williams was Cal's Most Improved Player in 2008. His 236 tackles are 11th all-time on the Bears' list.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Daily Cal: "Pain Train" Staying on Track Toward NFL Draft

By Andrew Kim


When Zack Follett bought his first NFL game ticket in the ninth grade, he was merely a fan.  When the four-star prep linebacker signed his LOI to Cal, there were still only whispers of his potential to play at the next, next level.  But when the Bears elected to shift their defense to a 3-4 look following their 2007 Armed Forces Bowl win, much of that changed-10.5 sacks, 23 tackles-for-loss and five forced fumbles later, Follett's status now reads: Potential NFL draft pick.  Starting Wednesday, his status will soon be NFL Combine participant, one that's been dubbed as a potential mid-third to an early fourth-round selection.  "Excitement," Follett says to describe his emotions. "Training something for so long, one specific thing pretty much-that 40-time-constantly twice a day almost every day except Sunday, it's just real excitement. I'm eager to go out and do it.  "I'm not really nervous. I know the whole process is a big grind from what I hear, but it's something that I've always wanted to do watching on TV, so I'm pretty excited."  If Follett runs as well as he has this week, he'll have NFL scouts just as thrilled. The linebacker says his goal is to run in the 4.5's, and that his fastest time this week was a 4.53. Punching in a 35-inch vertical-which is his personal best-as well as 20-something reps in the bench press are also on his to-do list, according to Follett.

His training regimen starts at 8 a.m. each morning, when he wakes up for breakfast at a restaurant nearby Elite Athletics Training Center in Westlake, Calif. He works out for about an hour and a half before taking a break.   Then comes lunch, which is also mapped out by a nutritionist, followed by another hour-and-a-half training session. At 3:30 p.m., he picks up dinner and heads home, where a protein shake and a lengthy session of Halo awaits.  "We train as a group, all the Cal guys are together training," says Follett. "Me and Worrell (Williams) are workout partners. We're really getting at it. It's good to have someone you're comfortable with that you know, and they know you and you can push each other because you've been doing it for the past four years ... It's made the process a lot easier."  By the process, Follett may have also meant winning arguments against players from all across the country.  Ever the talker, the linebacker says that having a strong Cal contingent with him helps him to win most debates, though he's not at all interested in seemingly the most heated one, LeBron versus Kobe.  Asked about a topic he recently engaged in, Follett recalled telling Pittsburgh tailback LeSean McCoy that the Bears' Jahvid Best was simply better than the potential first-round pick.  "No doubt, I let him know," Follett admitted. "I told (McCoy) I respected his game, but Jahvid is an unbelievable back ... Even going to the Senior Bowl, if Jahvid were at that Senior Bowl, he would've been the best player there. (McCoy and I) talked about the Pac-10 running backs."

And McCoy's response?  "Well, he asks like, 'Jahvid who?' That's his response to it, but he knows who (Best) is," Follett says. "(McCoy)'s a real confident guy. I think I'll just leave it at that."  It's not often that the linebacker "leaves it at that" with a running back on the field.  But that's what seems to define Follett, who was told by a sports psychologist working for the Indianapolis Colts that he has a "soft side" to his Pain Train psyche.  True, Follett counts his fish tanks, bonsai trees and woodcutting among his hobbies, and true, Follett removes the insane linebacker costume right as he trots off the gridiron.  But what's not true, he says, is the unavoidable association between Berkeley and marijuana-"Come on, man, you lived in Berkeley-tell the truth," a scout reportedly said to Follett in an interview after he had denied ever smoking pot.  "It's a grind," Follett says of the interview process. "They try to get to know you as a person."  If there's a Berkeley stereotype that Follett did fulfill, though, it may have been with his intelligence. According to Follett, his position coach at the Senior Bowl told Follett that he was the smartest linebacker the coach had met.

Players from prestigious programs were blessed athletically, gifted with both ridiculous size and speed, but Follett said that he realized in practices as well as in film sessions that the Cal coaching staff had tutored him just as well as anyone.

"When it comes to the little things about how to beat players and do the little things, I think Cal is way more advanced," says Follett. "Our coaches truly get us ready, and that was something that I didn't realize until I left Cal. At the time being, you don't know anything else, so you do what they say, and you don't know how anyone else does it.  "But you go out there and you kind of compare yourself to these other players. Even I noticed in the film room (at the Senior Bowl). When I'm watching film, I'm not one to talk much, but coach was going over and breaking down film, and half these guys didn't know what the heck he was talking about-and it was obvious to me."  And further, Follett is smart enough to know one more thing: There will be no such thing as a Zack Follett draft party.  "I'm definitely not gonna have no party," he says. "I don't want to be partying and not even get drafted. That'd be jinxing myself."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cal's 2009 Schedule

Sept. 5    Maryland
Sept. 12 Eastern Washington
Sept. 19 at Minnesota
Sept. 26 at Oregon
Oct. 3 USC
Oct. 17 at UCLA
Oct. 24 Washington State
Oct. 31 at Arizona State
Nov. 7 Oregon State
Nov. 14 Arizona
Nov. 21 at Stanford
Dec. 5 at Washington

From Cal's website: California will open the 2009 season at home against Maryland Sept. 5 and will play a total of six games in Memorial Stadium in the final football schedule announced by the Pacific-10 Conference. The revised slate includes two bye weeks, which were created when the Golden Bears' road date with Washington, initially set for Oct. 10, was moved to Dec. 5. The original schedule called for 12 games over 12 consecutive weekends.

Cal's schedule features six contests against teams that played in a bowl game this past year, non-conference opponents Maryland (Humanitarian) and Minnesota (Insight) plus Pac-10 foes USC (Rose), Arizona (Las Vegas), Oregon (Holiday) and Oregon State (Sun).

After playing Maryland Sept. 5, the Bears remain home the following Saturday when they host Eastern Washington Sept. 12. The remaining home dates are against USC Oct. 3, Washington State Oct. 24, Oregon State Nov. 7 and Arizona Nov. 14.

Cal's first road trip of the year is to Minnesota Sept. 19 with a visit to Oregon a week later. Other road games are at UCLA Oct. 17, Arizona State Oct. 31, Stanford Nov. 21 and Washington Dec. 5.

The Pac-10 also announced that the Cal-Oregon game in Eugene will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, although a time has not been determined. No game times or other television broadcast arrangements have been decided.

The Bears are coming off a 9-4 campaign this past fall, capped by a 24-17 victory over Miami in the Emerald Bowl. The result earned Cal a No. 25 ranking in the final USA Today coaches poll, the fourth time in the last five years the Bears have been ranked at the end of the year.

Former Cal Assistant Coach Leaves UW for the Raiders

Modesto Bee (link):

Jim Michalczik was named offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders on Monday, only two months after he joined the University of Washington staff.  The move came less than a week after Michalczik and the rest of the Huskies staff finished up their first recruiting class, and on the day UW coaches intended to begin planning for spring practices. Michalczik served the previous six seasons on the staff of Jeff Tedford at Cal.

New Raiders coach Tom Cable had filled all of his coaching staff except for offensive line coach. The Raiders won't have an official offensive coordinator.


From the Olympian (link):

For the second time in two weeks, a newly hired member of the University of Washington football staff has walked away from the job.  Head coach Steve Sarkisian announced Monday that Jim Michalczik, who was introduced as offensive coordinator in mid-December, has left to become offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders under new coach Tom Cable. Michalczik also was going to coach the UW offensive line.

Sarkisian hired him away from the University of California, where he had been co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Before his six seasons at Cal, Michalczik had coached at Oregon State, Montana State and Miami (Fla.). He is a native of Port Angeles and played his college career at Washington State.

After accepting the UW job, Michalczik had told the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times that leaving coach Jeff Tedford's staff at Cal had been "an incredibly tough decision."  Sarkisian intends to retain the play-calling responsibilities he held at USC. However, he said his offensive coordinator will still have a full plate of responsibilities including the day-to-day operation of the offense, meetings and working with Sarkisian on game plans. "I'm going to rely on him heavily," Sarkisian said when Michalczik was hired. Now Sarkisian will resume his search for an offensive coordinator while also remaining in the market for a receivers coach.

Aaron Roderick accepted that job in mid-January only to resign the position 10 days later. Roderick had been hired from the University of Utah and returned there, citing family considerations.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Daily Trojan: A Campus Guide for Football Recruits



Dear incoming football recruits,

Welcome! You are the latest edition of the annual gem of a recruiting class that USC coach Pete Carroll and his reshuffled rat pack of assistant coaches have reeled in to don the Cardinal and Gold in hopes of always competing and winning forever.

ESPN's Pre-Season Top 25



18. California Bears Will quarterback Kevin Riley perform better without departed senior Nate Longshore breathing down his neck? Riley's performance in 2009 will go a long way toward determining whether the Bears build on the momentum from last season's 9-4 finish. He completed only 51 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2008. Riley doesn't have to throw for 3,000 yards, but he needs to play well enough to keep defenses honest. Opponents will continue to focus on running back Jahvid Best, who ran for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Best, who will enter the 2009 season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, will miss spring practice after undergoing surgery on his left foot and left elbow. The Bears will have to replace two starting offensive linemen, including All-Pac-10 center Alex Mack, and tight end Cameron Morrah, who entered the NFL draft as a junior. Three very good linebackers will have to be replaced on defense, too.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Daily Cal: Best Undergoes Multiple Surgeries, Slated to Miss Spring Ball

By Andrew Kim


Cal tailback Jahvid Best, who's been seen zooming on a wheelchair near campus of late, reportedly underwent elbow and foot surgery on Jan. 15 and 23, respectively, and will likely sit out spring ball in March.

The first procedure comes as expected, as it was no secret that the sophomore dislocated his elbow running alongside the Colorado State sidelines on Sept. 27. The foot surgery, meanwhile, comes as somewhat of a surprise. The team revealed in a release today that the procedure was done to address "irritation of an extra bone on the right side of his foot," which was caused by an unspecified injury halfway through the past season.  The Bears' medical staff expects Best to begin running in two months and return for fall camp in full health. Best could not be reached for immediate comment.


Daily Cal: Linemen, Linebackers Headline 2009 Football Class

By Jimmy Tran


There were no recruitment hoaxes or severely missed opportunities involved in this year's National Signing Day.  Instead, the Cal football team stayed under the radar for the most part and signed an 18-player class that is filled with talented prospects from across the country.  "I think we did a really nice job of addressing some of our needs," coach Jeff Tedford said. "As always, our approach in recruiting is speed and athleticism, and I feel like we pretty much hit every position."  In particular, Tedford praised defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi for his part in fielding a class that had players from eight different states.  "He was a bulldog right down to the end," Tedford said. "You talk about a tireless guy. I don't know if he ever sleeps. He's all over the place and he did a great job, as did our whole staff."  The Bears signed eight players on the offensive side of the ball, nine defensive players and one specialist in kicker Vince D'Amato. In an attempt to fill in the losses of key players at both the offensive line and linebacker positions, Cal inked four recruits at each.

The offensive line group was ranked 13th in the nation by, while the linebackers ranked 24th. Notable standouts in the offensive line group are center Mark Brazinski, who was rated the No. 3 center prospect in the country, and All-American Charles Siddoway, the top recruit from the state of Oregon.

"We've had good offensive line classes in the past, and this one's no different," Tedford said.   The recruits won't be the only new additions to the offensive line, though, as the Bears recently hired Steve Marshall to be the offensive line coach. While Tedford was unsure whether Marshall ultimately had an effect on the recruitment process, he still wanted to assure his prospects that Marshall was the right man for the job.

"We hung on to everyone but (Stanley) Haziak, so I don't know if it had an effect," Tedford said. "I talked to our O-line guys and said our hiring was going to be someone who has the same philosophy as we've always had here."  Haziak was teetering between UCLA and Cal up until Tuesday night, but the offensive guard from Hawai'i ultimately decided to sign with the Bruins.  Another decision that was unsure until the final hours was receiver Markish Jones, who did not officially commit until 2:45 p.m. yesterday. He was the only recruit that committed after 9 a.m.  "We're fortunate to get him," Tedford said. "He's a guy, as it winds down here, that's as talented as the guys we've been looking at all along."  Jones joins the four offensive lineman, running back Dasarte Yarnway, quarterback Allan Bridgford, and athlete Isi Sofele in the offensive recruits group.  On defense, the Bears signed two linemen, four linebackers who Tedford deemed as "a great linebacking corps," and three defensive backs that should add depth to a secondary that was third in the nation in interceptions last season.  Defensive tackle Deandre Coleman is arguably the biggest name of the three four-star prospects.  Coleman, the top player signed out of the state of Washington, was ranked just outside the top 100 by and brings plenty of talent to the 3-4 defense that was implemented last season.  The switch on defense played a big role in recruitment this season and resulted in the signing of more linebackers.

"I think especially the linebacking corps, they see the versatility that the 3-4 provides us," Tedford said. "You definitely have to recruit to the 3-4, because the numbers just don't match if you recruit to the 4-3. It's just logical to do that."  In a move that went against the trend of previous seasons, Cal offered D'Amato a scholarship. Tedford had nothing but praise for the California native. "When we decided we needed to go find the best kicker we can find to compete and have this job here, Vince was the guy," Tedford said.

San Francisco Chronicle: Surgeries will keep Best off Cal track team

Rusty Simmons


Cal sophomore Jahvid Best will not run track and is expected to miss spring football drills after two January surgeries, but he is projected to be rehabilitated by training camp in August, university officials announced Friday.  The Heisman Trophy candidate maintained throughout his injury-laden football season that he intended to run track but was left off the roster released last month. Now, we know why.  Best had elbow surgery to tighten a ligament in his left elbow Jan. 15 and another operation to relieve irritation created by an extra bone on the outside of his left foot Jan. 23. He dislocated his elbow at the tail end of a run Sept. 27 against Colorado State and injured his foot two games later against Arizona. Cal's medical staff said Best should start running in late March or early April, but will most likely skip spring ball from March 10-April 18 in order to have four months to recover for training camp. The 5-foot-10, 193-pounder turned in a 1,580-yard season - the second-highest total in school history - and set a Cal record by averaging 8.1 yards a carry, despite playing most of the season in pain and rarely getting a full week of practice. Best averaged 131.7 yards a game, ranking No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 3 in the nation.

Best had his freshman season cut short by a hip injury and injured his right foot as a junior in high school. He limped to third- and fifth-place medals at the state track meet only to have X-rays reveal a fracture in the foot weeks later.  Along with the two injuries that needed surgical repair, Best sprained his thumb in an Emerald Bowl win, played on a sprained ankle most of the season and endured back pain throughout. He deemed himself "completely healthy" before the Nov. 22 Big Game, though it was more a state of mind that an actuality.  After back-to-back losses to USC and Oregon State, Best decided he could no longer afford to be hurt despite the pain. He ran for 698 yards and nine touchdowns, and averaged 12 yards a carry over the final three games - all wins. Best ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns in helping Cal retrieve the Stanford Axe, and bettered the spectacular performance in the regular-season finale against Washington. He ran for four touchdowns and 311 yards, breaking Jerry Drew's single-game school record of 283 yards set in 1954. Finally, he sent a nation-take-notice message in the Emerald Bowl, running past Miami for a bowl-record 186 yards.

College Football News writer Pete Fiutak deemed Best the fourth-best candidate for the 2009 Heisman, writing, "Uhhhhh, who? Non-USC Pac-10 players are normally ignored ... and no one outside of the Left Coast has any clue who Best is. That's going to change in a big hurry as he'll be the hot under-the-radar-guy-who-suddenly-becomes-hip candidate."

Briefly: The UC Board of Regents approved the details of coach Jeff Tedford's contract extension through 2015, which doesn't include a pay increase. ... Tedford said 6-1, 225-pound freshman wideout Jarrett Sparks will move to tight end.


Costa Contra Times: Tedford's extension gets final approval

The contract extension that Cal football coach Jeff Tedford agreed to on New Year's Day has been approved, according to Thursday's Report of Interim Actions to the UC Regents.  Cal announced previously that Tedford and the school had come to terms on a two-year extension that would keep him in Berkeley through the 2015 season. The report of the extension's approval didn't provide much more information than what was already public, with a few exceptions.  Most notable is a provision that Tedford will receive an additional automatic one-year extension for every season the Bears win nine games. The new extensions will simply continue all the terms of this latest one.

Tedford's base salary of $225,000 and talent fee of $1,575,000 remain unchanged under the new extension. But the latest deal calls for Tedford's previous retention bonuses to be split up so the coach can contribute money to a deferred compensation plan.  Instead of receiving a $1 million bonus on Jan. 8 for his continuing employment as Cal's coach, $500,000 of it was put in the deferred plan. The university now will contribute $500,000 to the plan on Jan. 8 of every year Tedford remains at Cal. The new deal also calls for substantially greater rewards in incentives. For instance, Tedford will earn $1 million if the Bears win the national title. The previous contract called for just a $150,000 bonus. The extension also dictates Tedford will

receive $750,000 for playing in the BCS title game, a provision that didn't exist previously.  Other new incentives are $500,000 for winning the Pac-10 title or going to the Rose Bowl, $400,000 for going to another BCS game and $250,000 for tying for the conference title but getting shut out of a BCS game. There also are bonuses for playing in the Holiday Bowl ($60,000), Sun Bowl ($40,000) or any other non-BCS bowl ($30,000).

The new contract also will give Tedford a $45,000 bonus if the team has an 80 percent graduation rate, a 950 APR score or a teamwide 2.8 GPA.  Tedford and athletic director Sandy Barbour both cryptically said the impetus for the extension was due to overtures from other schools, but the report says it explicitly.  "The campus undertook negotiations with Mr. Tedford to enhance and extend his current contract when he was contacted by other universities to fill their head coach position," the report said.

Injury updates

Tedford said wide receiver Michael Calvin, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee midway through last season, won't be recovered in time for spring practice. Nose tackle Derrick Hill also will miss the spring as he rests his perpetually bothersome knee.  Offensive guard/center Chris Guarnero, who had season-ending toe surgery after three games last year, will be back for spring ball. Offensive tackle Mike Tepper, who recently was granted a sixth year of eligibility, also will participate in the spring after missing last year with a pectoral injury.

Extra points

Tedford said wide receiver Jarrett Sparks will move to tight end. ... None of Cal's 18 recruits will enroll early, Tedford said. Last year, running back Covaughn DeBoskie and nose tackle Kendrick Payne graduated from high school early and were at Cal in time for spring practice.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle: Cal fills needs on busy recruiting day


Jeff Tedford emphasized needs over names in California's latest football recruiting class, and the coach ended up with help at nearly every one of the Golden Bears' neediest positions.

Mission Viejo quarterback Allan Bridgford and Seattle-area defensive lineman Deandre Coleman highlighted Tedford's 18-player recruiting class, which was ranked in the top half of most recruiting observers' Pac-10 lists Wednesday. "We're excited about this class," Tedford said. "We feel we addressed all of our needs, and we're bringing in a group of players with the speed and athleticism to compete at a high level."  After going 9-4 and winning the Emerald Bowl last season, Cal spread its recruiting tentacles across the nation, landing offensive lineman Mark Brazinski from New Jersey and cornerback Steve Williams, a Dallas native who backed out of a commitment to Oklahoma. The Bears also signed two touted players from Salt Lake City's Cottonwood High School: defensive tackle Keni Kaufusi and receiver Isi Sofele, who's also expected to return kicks.

And Cal fans who bemoaned their club's poor kickoffs last season probably don't have to worry any more. Tedford signed Vince D'Amato, a strong-legged kicker from Lake Forest, Calif., who routinely boomed his kickoffs into the end zone even without a tee.  Brazinski and Charles Siddoway could become big contributors on the offensive line, with both players boasting high rankings from various scouting services. Siddoway was rated the top recruit coming out of Oregon this winter by, and the Bears hung on to four offensive lineman despite offensive line coach Jim Michalczik's departure for Washington late last month. Cal's only quarterback was Bridgford, a decorated passer who performed well at the influential Elite 11 quarterback camp. The position is unsettled for the Bears, with Kevin Riley returning to compete with Brock Mansion after Tedford benched Riley in favor of departed senior Nate Longshore late last season.  Cal also landed four junior college recruits, including linebackers Jarred Price and Ryan Davis, who made a late commitment to the Bears after keeping them guessing for most of the week. Receiver Markish Jones, a South Carolina native who played community college ball in Compton last year, faxed in the last of Cal's 18 letters of intent in the afternoon.

Contra Costa Times: Cal Signs 18 Recruits

Jonathan Okanes


Two Cal recruits switched to their original commitments Wednesday. That was good and bad for the Bears.  Cal lost the battle for Stan Hasiak, one of the country's most heralded offensive-line prospects who initially orally committed to UCLA, switched to the Bears, then went back to the Bruins. Wednesday marked the first day prospects were permitted to sign a national letter of intent. That blow was lessened when Cerritos College defensive end Ryan Davis, who originally orally committed to the Bears but switched to Washington last week, ended up signing with Cal.  "As always, it's very, very competitive," Cal Coach Jeff Tedford said. "It's a little unsettling because sometimes they go underground and you can't get a hold of them and you don't know what's happening. You're really at their mercy. It's a helpless feeling when you don't know the information. "But we're really, really excited about the way it turned out." Davis is part of an 18-member recruiting class Cal announced Wednesday that is ranked 34th nationally by and 40th by Those are the worst marks the Bears have had since 2002, Tedford's first class at Cal. But part of that is sheer lack of numbers. The Bears didn't have as many scholarships to offer.

Still, Cal's past two recruiting classes have yielded the lowest rankings since 2002, perhaps demonstrating the Bears haven't fully recovered from their meltdown in 2007.  Cal's 2009 class doesn't include much punch at the skill positions but is strong up front and at linebacker. Despite the loss of Hasiak, the Bears still hauled in one of the nation's top offensive-line classes with center Mark Brazinski, guard Brian Schwenke and tackles Charles Siddoway and Charles Ragland. Brazinski is rated as the No. 2 center in the country by while Siddoway and Ragland are both top-100 recruits at their position. Defensive tackle Deandre Coleman was regarded as the top recruit in the state of Washington and Milpitas linebacker Steven Fanua is considered a top-25 middle linebacker nationally. Other headliners of the class are cornerback Steve Williams, who backed out of a commitment to Oklahoma to join the Bears; running back Dasarte Yarnway of Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco and quarterback Allan Bridgford of Mission Viejo. The Bears continued to recruit Davis even after he switched his oral commitment. Tedford said he felt confident he had won Davis back over Tuesday night. "Last night he gave me a real good indication but I wasn't really 100 percent until this morning when I got him out of bed and his tone hadn't changed," Tedford said. "I felt pretty good about it this morning." Davis played defensive end in junior college but likely will be a rush linebacker at Cal, fulfilling a role similar to the departed Zack Follett. Tedford said he hadn't had much contact with Hasiak in recent days but spoke with him late Tuesday night. He hadn't spoken with him by Wednesday afternoon and found out on the Internet that he had signed with UCLA.

"I talked to him late last night and he said he was mulling it over and it was very close," Tedford said. "He said there were positives about both places." There is only one wide receiver in the 2009 class, Compton College's Markish Jones. The receiving corps was a weakness last season, but Tedford is counting on the development of sophomores Michael Calvin and Marvin Jones and redshirt freshman Charles Satchell this fall.

Final Commit

Markish Jones, a wide receiver from Compton Community College (I believe it’s actually called El Camino College) just faxed in his letter of intent. He caught 39 passes for 521 yards and seven touchdowns this past season in the ‘hood and was a former Rivals four-star prospect out of Broome HS in South Carolina.

He ended up at Compton after academic issues prevented him from attending Clemson. He originally committed to Clemson in February 2007, per gatorbait, where you can see videos of him playing in high school (not sure if it’s worth waiting through the long commercial; the quality is terrible). There’s an interesting article about confusion regarding his initial commitment to Clemson, which you can find here. The article states:

Signing day for Markish Jones went down like this; Jones, South Carolina’s Offensive MVP of this year’s Shrine Bowl and a 4-star prospect out of Broome HS, signed his letter of intent (including his mother’s signature) to attend Clemson. He does not immediately fax it to Clemson. Jones calls Florida State coaches to inform them of his decision. An hour later, he and his mother sign a second letter of intent, this time to Florida State. This time, they fax it off. It was reported that Tommy Bowden spent nearly two hours that afternoon on the phone with Markish and his mother and that after the conversation they called the Broome head coach and asked him to locate and return the unfaxed Clemson LOI.

Within the week, Clemson coaches petitioned the ACC, who sent the matter to Torie Johnson, director of the National Letter of Intent in Birmingham, Alabama. The NLI ruled that once the letter was signed by a player and their guardian, it was binding. The Tallahassee Democrat noted that this interpretation would likely be at odds with many schools’ own compliance interpretations.

It’s a little strange that he is still listed as a player on Clemon’s website:

Before Clemson: Rated as the #28 wide receiver in the nation according to wide receiver in the nation by athlete in the nation by prospect in the state by SuperPrep...#8 prospect in the state by prospect in the state by MVP for the South Carolina team in the Shrine Bowl...all-region selection by PrepStar...four-star prospect out of Gettys D. Broome High School...played on both sides of the ball at the wide receiver and safety positions...totaled 40 receptions for 1,030 yards and 13 touchdowns during his senior season at Gettys D. Broome High School...had five interceptions and nine pass breakups as a senior...had 550 receiving yards and five touchdowns as a junior, and added 28 tackles and five pass breakups...standout in track; he was a four-event state champion in 2006, including the 100m, 200m, 400m, and long jump...recruited by Inside Linebackers Coach David Blackwell...chose Clemson over East Carolina, Florida State, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech...born Dec. 7, 1988.

According to ESPN, he never enrolled at Clemson. Here’s ESPN’s analysis of him back in 2007:

Jones is an explosive, speedy wide receiver prospect with sensational hands and knack for making big plays--especially in traffic. Is an impressive all-around athlete with versatility as a prospect. A true vertical threat with good height, arm length and leaping ability. He has the initial burst and top-end speed to simply run by defenders in man-coverage. Shows a second gear when tracking down the deep ball. He is fluid and shows smooth hips. He does not need to gear down to get in and out of his breaks. His instincts and coverage recognition skills are impressive. He shows the consistent ability to find soft spots in zone coverage. He is subtle with double moves. He is quick and savvy enough to avoid the press at the line of scrimmage. He is very impressive after the catch and if he gets a seam, he really turns on the jets. He shows very good concentration and focus--has soft hands and plucks and tucks quickly. Has no fear across the middle. Overall, Jones has the makings of a great playmaker at the next level. He is quick, fast, shows savvy as a route runner and catches everything.

In addition to attending the JC in Compton, he also attended Hutchinson Community College last year. An article from the JC’s website in January 2008 states:

Markish Jones had a very strong first meet for the Blue Dragons. He qualified for nationals by winning the long jump with a mark of 23-0.75. He was third in the 55 meters with a time of 6.52 seconds and ran a leg on the 4x400 relay.

This article from May 2008 indicates that he had given up football:

2007 Clemson signee WR Markish Jones (6-1, 202) of Broome and Hutchinson JC, Kan., apparently has given up football to concentrate on track, according to his coach. Ryan Rhodes said Jones pulled a hamstring early in fall camp last season and redshirted, and he doesn't plan to return to the football team.

Cal Loses Stan Hasiak to UCLA

Stan Hasiak, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive lineman from Kapolei, Hawai'i ended an exciting recruiting process on Signing Day Wednesday, sticking with an earlier verbal commitment.  The UCLA Bruins won a hard-fought battle over the California Golden Bears for Hasiak's services.  Link.

Recruitment Update


6:11 Mark Brazinski OL Somerville, NJ/Immaculata HS  

6:13 Jarred Price LB Dallas, TX/Blinn JC/Madison HS  

6:36 Alex Logan S Denver, CO/Mullen HS  

6:36 Charles Ragland OL Denver, CO/Mullen HS 

7:03 Isi Sofele ATH Salt Lake City, UT/Cottonwood HS  

7:15 Allan Bridgford QB Mission Viejo, CA/Mission Viejo HS  

7:15 Vachel Samuels CB Lynwood, CA/Lynwood HS 

7:15 Vince D'Amato PK Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS 

7:16 Ryan Davis OLB Norwalk, CA/Cerritos CC/Artesia HS 

7:20 Steven Fanua LB Milpitas, CA/Milpitas HS  

7:20 Jerome Meadows DE Spartanburg, SC/San Jose CC/Broome HS  

7:21 Deandre Coleman DT Seattle, WA/Garfield HS  

7:25 Keni Kaufusi DT Salt Lake City, UT/Cottonwood HS  

7:29 Dasarte Yarnway RB San Francisco, CA/Sacred Heart HS  

7:30 Charles Siddoway OL Eugene, OR/Sheldon HS  

7:31 Brian Schwenke OL Oceanside, CA/Oceanside HS  

9:00 Steve Williams CB Dallas, TX/Skyline HS


Wednesday, Feb. 4
9:00 a.m.
Another NLI just came in - Steve Williams, a SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American, who was also ticketed as the 23rd-best cornerback in the country by Rivals and No. 7 corner by

7:31 a.m.
A huge wave of NLIs just came through in the last 10 minutes! Deandre Coleman followed by Keni Kaufusi, Dasarte Yarnway, Charles Siddoway and Brian Schwenke. Coleman and Kaufusi are a pair of defensive tackles, while Siddoway and Schwenke give the Bears two strong offensive lineman. Yarnway was a SuperPrep All-American who rushed for 2,180 yards at San Francisco's Sacred Heart HS.

7:20 a.m.
Cal's recruiting class reached double figures with the 10th and 11th NLIs to be faxed in. Steven Fanua's letter was quickly followed by one from Jerome Meadows. Fanua has been rated one of the top 50 outside LBs in the country. Meadows, originally from Spartanburg, SC, had 105 tackles at nearby San Jose CC in 2008.

7:16 a.m.
Defensive standout Ryan Davis sent his fax in at 7:16 a.m. While playing at Cerritos CC last fall, he had 32 tackles, 5 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries.

7:15 a.m.
Three more NLIs roll in to the Cal football office from QB Allan Bridgford, CB Vachel Samuels and PK Vince D'Amato. Bridgford hails from Mission Viejo and passed for over 3,000 yards and 38 TDs as a senior. Samuels was named the nation's fourth-most physical cornerback by Rivals and D'Amato hasa strong leg and put over 90% of his kickoffs into the end zone last year.

7:03 a.m.
Another NLI comes through the fax machine, this time Isi Sofele, a quick and explosive product of Salt Lake City who gained almost 3,500 yards and scored 48 TDs his last two years of high school.

6:36 a.m.
At 6:36, Alex Logan's NLI came through, immediately followed by one from high school teammate Charles Ragland. Both players hail from Mullen HS in Denver, CO, which is also the alma mater of current Cal OL Chris Guarnero. Logan is a PrepStar All-American, while Ragland is a massive 6-8, 285 and helped paved the way for three rushing TDs in winning the state championship game.

6:11 a.m.
The first two letters of intent have come through the fax machine - offensive lineman Mark Brazinski and linebacker Jarred Price. Brazinski is considered one of the top center prospects in the country, while Price was named his conference's defensive MVP at Blinn JC in Texas last fall.


Recruitment Update from SF Examiner

Rob Calonge

With Cal's latest signing, the Bears have built a class of 17 new players with more expected to come in the near future.  Steve Williams of Skyline High in Dallas, Texas signed and sent in his letter of intent at 9:00am PST this morning.  This is a big get for the Bears.  He's rated in the top 25 at his position by, ESPN/Scouts INC., and

Read the rest here.

SF Chronicle: Cal Recruit Class Hinges on Late Decisions

Cal coach Jeff Tedford is expected to announce today an incoming class of about 20 recruits that could be considered one of his best or could be shunned from the nation's top 25, depending on a pair of last-minute decisions. Four-star recruit Stan Hasiak, who is widely considered the best offensive lineman in the Western region, and four-star Randall Carroll, one of the nation's top-ranked receivers, are both considering Berkeley. Each will wait until today to make his school of choice official, on national signing day. "Compared to any other year, there have been more crazy changes, more decommits and more last-minute decisions, nationally," said Rick Kimbrel, Pac-10 analyst. "Cal's been right in the middle of a lot of it."
If Hasiak makes his verbal commitment to Cal official, the Bears will have gotten four All-Americans to spurn previous commitments, joining center Mark Brazinski, defensive tackle Deandre Coleman and defensive back Steve Williams. Hasiak once again is considering UCLA, the school of his original verbal commitment. USC has held a commitment from Carroll since the beginning of his junior season, but he has re-opened the possibility of attending UCLA, Cal and Arizona State.
"I love this class, especially if they can ink Hasiak," said Brandon Huffman, West Regional manager. "They really attacked a wide area of the nation and spread wings to fill some needs." As it stands (Hasiak to Cal, Carroll to USC), Rivals ranks Cal at No. 30 nationally and Scout ranks the Bears at No. 29, but much of the mediocre ranking has to do with the size of the class. Cal has verbal commitments from only 18 scholarship players, making it impossible to be ranked with 23- to 25-player classes. The average star ranking of the Bears' 17 players, however, is 3.24 stars from Rivals and 3.35 on Scout. Using that statistic, Cal ranks No. 22 and No. 16 in the nation. The Bears' class of scholarship players includes 15 high school players and three junior-college transfers, and is especially strong up front, according to team sources. By position, the class has one quarterback, two running backs, a receiver, four offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three linebackers, three defensive backs and a kicker.
Under NCAA rules, coaches are prohibited from talking about their recruiting classes until they have the signed letters in hand. Cal will host a signing-day news conference at 3 p.m., which can be followed on With or without Hasiak, the lines are the strongest position groups. Brazinski, from New Jersey, is considered one of the top two centers in the country, offensive tackle Charles Siddoway from Oregon is considered the state's best lineman and Coleman, from Washington, grabbed the same reviews in his home state. "What's good about these linemen is that it was a very down year for big guys in the west, and Cal was able to go all over the country to find some of the best," Rivals' Kimbrel said. "These are the cream of the crop." The sexier names in the class are quarterback Allan Bridgford, an Elite 11 selection from Mission Viejo (Orange County), and running back Dasarte Yarnway from Sacred Heart Cathedral, a pairing that drew this review from Huffman: "They've got probably the best 1-2 punch, in terms of QB/RB, out West this year." Defensive lineman Jerome Meadows from San Jose Community College and linebacker Jarred Price from Blinn College (Texas) could compete to play right away. Williams, a 5-foot-10 corner from Dallas, impressed at the Under Armour All-America game last month. "He's a smaller guy, but he plays big," Huffman said.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Six Bears Invited to NFL Scouting Combine

Six former California football players - Rulon Davis, Anthony Felder, Zack Follett, Alex Mack, Cameron Morrah and Worrell Williams - have all been invited to participate in the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium Feb. 18-24 in Indianapolis. The combine, which features more than 300 of the best college players from around the nation, will have executives, coaching staffs, player personnel departments and medical personnel present from all 32 NFL teams to evaluate players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft in April.

Link to rest of story.