Wednesday, January 24, 2007

San Jose Mercury News: Cal, SJSU football teams winning recruiting battles


By Jon Wilner

Mercury News

Two weeks from letter-of-intent day, all is proceeding as you'd expect for the Bay Area's college football teams. Cal, one of the top programs in the West, is expected to land another top-25 class. San Jose State, fresh off a breakthrough season, has received commitments from players who might not have considered the Spartans in the past.  And Stanford, which fired Walt Harris after a 1-11 season -- and was without a coach for the crucial December recruiting period -- is grasping for mediocrity.  ``They aren't involved in a lot of top-tier kids,'' said Greg Biggins, who tracks recruiting for Student Sports Magazine. ``But I think Jim Harbaugh will do a good job. He has a personality that's going to attract kids. Give him another year, and he'll do better than what they've done the last two or three years.''  Hired Dec. 18, Harbaugh persuaded receivers Evan Moore and Mark Bradford to return for their senior season and secured the oral commitments Stanford had received during the fall.  The Cardinal's top-rated prospects are David Green, an elite kicker from Mission Viejo; receiver Sean Wiser, who plays for Oaks Christian with mega-prospects Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame) and Marc Tyler (USC); and Kellen Kiilsgaard, a quarterback from Auburn, Wash., who could play safety.

``Everyone's fighting over whether Kiilsgaard is a quarterback or a safety because he runs well,'' said Randy Taylor, who oversees's West Coast recruiting operation.  Stanford received an important commitment last weekend from Matt Masifilo, a defensive tackle from Hawaii who considered Cal and Washington. But two other top recruits, Byron and Brandon Clear, twins from Alabama, opted for Clemson.  Cal Coach Jeff Tedford has a bevy of young talent at the skill positions and has focused recruiting efforts on restocking the offensive line. The Bears have 19 oral commitments, according to, and five of them are offensive linemen, including well-regarded tackle Sam DeMartinis of Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks and St. Ignatius guard/tackle Matt Summers-Gavin. . ``It's the best offensive line class in the West,'' Biggins said.

The Bears also have commitments from two tailbacks: Shane Vareen, from Valencia, who could end up at cornerback, and Jahvid Best, from Richmond. Known for his speed, the 185-pound Best is rated the No. 18 tailback in the country and reportedly received scholarship offers from Notre Dame and USC.  As usual, Tedford has landed a highly rated quarterback: Brock Mansion, a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder from Dallas. ``Because he's a big, strong-armed athlete, he's one of my favorites,'' Taylor said. ``He has a huge upside. ``Some people compare him to Nate Longshore, because both have good size. But Longshore is a bit more technical. Mansion is not as pure a thrower, but he's more of an athlete who can run. And he has the frame to put more weight on.'' That's the challenge facing San Jose State's top recruit, 270-pound lineman Fred Koloto of Palo Alto. He picked the Spartans over Nebraska, Fresno State and Washington -- schools SJSU could never have outdueled in the past -- and could play on either side of the ball in college. The Spartans also have oral commitments from Joe Bates, a cornerback from Laney College in Oakland, and David Richmond, a four-star receiver from Santa Ana College who had offers from Brigham Young and Oregon. (Because oral commitments are not binding, other schools have continued to recruit Richmond.) ``He's a deceptive guy,'' Taylor said. ``He doesn't look real smooth, but he can go get the ball. He has very good body control. He just makes catches.'' SJSU is hoping to land Latu Moala, a defensive end from the College of San Mateo who is also considering Oregon State and Washington State. The Spartans' biggest ``recruits'' won't appear on any prospect lists: All-America cornerback Dwight Lowery will return for his senior season, and defensive end Jeff Schweiger has transferred from USC and will be eligible in 2008.

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