Sunday, January 21, 2007

Contra Costa Times: Five top-rated prep offensive linemen, all friends, orally commit

Hey, guys, let's go block for Cal


BERKELEY — E-mails were zipping back and forth between some of the nation's top offensive line high school recruits.  They were sharing their thoughts about how great it would be to play at the same place, to become the foundation of a dynamic college offense.  That idea is about to become a reality at Cal.  As national letter-of-intent signing day Feb. 7 approaches, Cal coach Jeff Tedford has received verbal commitments from five blue-chip offensive line recruits. rates St. Ignatius Prep guard Matt Summers, Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks tackle Sam DeMartinis and Bakersfield offensive guard Justin Cheadle as four-star (with five being the highest rating) recruits.   Center Todd Huber of Palos Verdes Peninsula-Rolling Hills and guard/tackle Mitchell Schwartz of Palisades-Pacific Palisades were three-star recruits.  Of Cal's current 18 oral commitments, five are from offensive linemen. Tedford obviously has put the emphasis on building a wall of security for his future skill position players.   Coaches can't comment on recruits until they sign, but the players already are looking forward to working together in Berkeley.   "Basically, I learned from my coaches in high school that it all starts up front," DeMartinis said. "I believe that is 100 percent true. I know that Cal has put together a great offensive line class. We are going to do some damage in the next couple of years."  Through camps and recruiting trips, the future Cal linemen have become familiar with each other.

"We've been contacting each other through the Internet, and we already have formed a good bond," DeMartinis said. "We all knew that Cal was at the top of our list. We know that it is possible that we all could be starting next to each other one day." Huber said that besides the fact that they all are rated highly, they are a good mix. "The cool part is that I am a center, and we have two guards and two tackles," he said.  Tedford is a huge proponent of the power running game, and that strategy should be intact with the signing of the linemen, along with running backs Jahvid Best of Salesian and Shane Vereen of Valencia.  "I was pretty excited when I heard that Cal got Best and Vereen," DeMartinis said. "Those are the two fastest (running backs) in the state."  Great speed makes a lineman's job a lot easier," Huber said. "I realized that when I played in a (high school) all-star game in Florida."  Other than the glut of offensive linemen, Cal's verbal commitments are spread across the board.  Tedford addressed a huge issue when he received an verbal from Camarillo punter Bryan Anger. Current Cal punter Andrew Larson will be a senior next season, and the Bears don't have much depth at that position. currently ranks Cal's class as the 22nd best in the country. That rating will move much higher if Tedford can steal Long Beach Poly cornerback Donovan Warren away from USC. Cal is the underdog, but it remains in the mix.  No matter what Cal's national ranking will be, it has again been the dominant force in the East Bay, getting verbal commitments from arguably the top two talents in Best and San Lorenzo wide receiver Mike Calvin.  Calvin is likely to redshirt next season and then begin his career at the same time as Nyan Boateng, who announced last week that he is transferring from Florida to Cal. Boateng will have to sit out next season and then will be a junior.

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