Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seattle Times: Tevin Carter to Cal?

By Bob Condotta (Here’s the link to the article…the comments are kind of funny)

Sounds as if the Huskies might have lost one of their marquee commits for the class of 2010 as ESPN as there are reports today that Los Angeles-area receiver Tevin Carter has switched commitment to Cal. You can see the headline here on (the story is part of the premium Insider package). And it's also being reported here by (also a pay story but you can see the headline and lead paragraphs). Carter announced a commitment to UW in May but then said earlier this month he was softening his commitment and would explore his options further. That came in the wake of some sterling performances in California regional and state track meets that raised his stock. Carter was part of an impressive early haul of recruits that has UW ranked No. 11 in the country right now for the Class of 2010 by But Carter's apparent switcheroo also gives further evidence to the vagaries of recruiting and truth to the coach's maxim that it's never really over until the letters are signed.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Frederick News-Post Online: Thomas Johnson's Forbes Commits to California

By Greg Swatek


When Nick Forbes stepped off a plane at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport on Monday morning, the bright future suddenly laid out before him was not one he could have even imagined four months ago.

Forbes, a soon-to-be senior at Thomas Johnson High School, had just returned from a three-day West Coast trip, on which he verbally accepted a full scholarship to play football for the University of California.

After being pursued by hundreds of schools on all levels of college football and receiving scholarship offers from roughly 15 high-profile Division I programs, the 17-year-old Forbes disclosed one of the biggest decisions of his life to the Cal coaching staff at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday.  By that time, he was six hours into his second visit of the campus.  "I was holding back. There was a smile on my face all day," said Forbes, a muscular 6-foot-1, 225-pound inside linebacker and running back for the TJ football team. "Two hours into the trip, I knew this was where I wanted to be."

News traveled across the country quickly that another domino had fallen in Frederick County's highly touted recruiting Class of 2010. Jeremy Grove, who recently committed to East Carolina and plays beside Forbes in TJ's linebacking corps, received a text message from his workout partner and close friend around 11:30 p.m. Friday.  "I couldn't fall asleep for about an hour," Grove said. "I was excited."

At Monday evening's workout session in the TJ weight room, coach Ben Wright was already wearing his souvenir from Forbes' trip, a navy blue T-shirt with a large Golden Bear print on the front.  "Nick's one of the hardest workers on this team. I am happy for him," Wright said. "I couldn't think of a better place for him to go to school." Forbes was a coveted football recruit for two years. The website ranked him as the seventh-best high school linebacker in the country following the most recent season, in which Forbes led the Patriots with 106 tackles and was named The Frederick News-Post's All-Area Defensive Player of the Year. But, as recently as late February, Cal was not among Forbes' top choices.

When the Golden Bears' offer arrived in what Forbes described as a nice, shiny envelope, he was flattered by the attention, but immediately dismissive of the idea he would go to school there. "I was like, 'There is no way I am going out there,'" he said. Distance from home was the primary concern. Plus, there were attractive offers from Duke, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.  Forbes viewed all those schools as finalists for his decision. On the final weekend of February, Forbes headed west with the purpose of visiting Stanford.  Since Cal had expressed such a strong interest and even sent one of its recruiting coordinators to TJ to make a face-to-face offer in the middle of a school day, Forbes thought it wouldn't hurt to make the 43-mile trip north from Palo Alto to Berkeley to take a look at the Cal campus.

Upon arriving, Forbes, prominently wearing TJ colors, was scolded by Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "Man, you are lucky anybody let you through the door wearing all that red," Tedford told Forbes, referring to the red and white of the Stanford Cardinal, the Golden Bears' arch rival in the Pacific-10 Conference. It wasn't Forbes' intent to wear Stanford colors, even though he was on his way there for a visit. But Tedford's friendly jab sent Forbes a strong and direct message: Even wearing enemy colors, the Golden Bears wanted him pretty badly. And, in the span of a few hours, Forbes started to fall in love with all of the opportunities that were being presented to him in Berkeley.

Not just on the football field, but in the classroom, too. Forbes carries a 3.6 grade-point average at TJ and wants to study mechanical engineering. "I had the opportunity to go to the No. 1 public school in the country and compete on a top-10 caliber team. This year, they are rated No. 11 in the country," Forbes said.

Suddenly, Cal had shoved its way into Forbes group of finalists and all those cross-country flights didn't seem so bad. "One of the stats I heard was that 44,000 kids apply to pay close to $50,000 a year to go there," he said. "It's truly a blessing to be able to go there and play football on top of that."

By the time Forbes touched down for his second visit on Friday afternoon, accompanied by his mother, Carol, his decision was basically a formality. "I wanted my mom to see the school because I wanted her to be comfortable with my decision," he said. Forbes understands his choice will require some major adjusting within his family, but, by Monday evening, he was convinced, "It was the best decision I ever made. I am really confident about it. It just feels really great to get it over with so I can focus on my senior year (at TJ)." Forbes has yet to make his official, school-sponsored visit to Cal, which he is planning to take the first week of September when the Golden Bears play host to Maryland on Sept. 5.

Despite the thousands of miles of separation, Forbes anticipates his family will come out to see most of his games. He said, "My mom is going to be racking up some frequent-flier miles."

ESPN: Cal adds top LB Forbes and OL Croswaithe

By Greg Biggins

Cal could be on the verge of putting together one of its best recruiting classes in years after picking up two more elite prospects over the weekend.  The headliner was Nick Forbes (Frederick, Md./Thomas Jefferson), one of the elite linebacker prospects in the country. Forbes earned LB MVP honors at the Penn State NFTC and has the size and talent to play early for the Bears.

Ironically, at the time of the Nike Camp, if there was a school out West that looked to have a good shot at Forbes, it was the Bears in-state rival Stanford. That all changed after the linebacker camped with Cal over the weekend and decided to pull the trigger.

Forbes actually committed before the camp even took place on Saturday. He spent Friday touring the campus and decided he had seen enough. Along with earlier commitments from Cecil Whiteside (Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor) and David Wilkerson (Danville, Calif./Monte Vista), the Bears may have the top linebacker class in the nation.

Whiteside is underrated nationally, but earned LB MVP honors at the loaded USC NFTC. Wilkerson earned first team, all-state underclass honors last season and like Forbes, has the ability to swing between any of the linebacker positions in Cal's 3-4 scheme. Whiteside is probably the best athlete of the group and is a natural weakside linebacker with superior cover skills. The three complement each other very well and all could see the field at the same time down the line.

The Bears also landed one of the state's true road graders in offensive lineman Alex Crosthwaite (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral). He was the top lineman on arguably the state's best offensive line a year ago. He's a true guard prospect with natural strength, toughness and a mean streak.

Crosthwaite is the third offensive lineman the Bears have secured and probably the best of the group. He turned down offers from schools like Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Nebraska, Fresno State, Minnesota, Duke, UNLV and San Diego State. He was also beginning to draw heavy interest from USC and UCLA.

In other positive news for the Bears, quarterback-commit Austin Hinder (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) had by far his best workout of the spring at the Nike Camp in Colorado. Hinder struggled a bit at the Elite 11 regional camp at Cal and the Nike Camp at Stanford back in May, but was spinning it very well with a lot of zip in Boulder over the weekend.

Hinder already has all the intangibles you could want in a quarterback. He's a great kid, a natural leader and his teammates will love playing with him. He works hard and has a strong desire to be coached and get better. When you combine all that with his physical tools on a frame that will easily be able to pack on a lot of weight, it's easy to see why quarterback guru Jeff Tedford made Hinder such a huge priority.

Link to entire article.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SF Examiner: Cal's Most Valuable Player

By Rob Calonge

Two weeks ago, after reading yet another preseason ranking, I started wondering why these rankings were already being published.  For the magazines, I guess I understand - they have to publish them earlier for the masses to digest in order to make a profit.  It was after reading another web-ranking that I wondered how they could be so confident in their predictions.  It's not lost on me how difficult it is to find new content on your favorite football team this time of year.  I too was once a fan.  So while I'm not disgusted by the number of pre-preseason rankings floating around the web, I felt it incumbent on me to try and bring a little levity concerning the Bears for 2009.

While a team is only as good as the sum of its whole, there are players, and in some cases positions, that carry most of the load when it comes to just how successful they'll be.  Being ranked in the top 10 right now, isn't going to bring Bear Backers a Rose Bowl trip. So, after listing nine of my top 10, the moment has arrived to announce the most valuable Bear in 2009.  Drumroll please... The No. 1 MVB of 2009 is...Jahvid Best.  Is there anyone really surprised?

Here’s the link to the rest of the story.

SF Examiner: Bears Get Two More to Commit

By Rob Calonge

Cal's 2010 football class is turning into one of the better Jeff Tedford compilations.  The Golden Bears received commitments from two players that are in some recruiting publications' top 100 players lists.

Offensive tackle Alex Crosthwaite and inside linebacker Nick Forbes both chose Cal after attending the California Elite Camp on Saturday.  Each player is rated a Top 250 player, and they've both garnered high praise from other scouting sources.  Academics, once again, played a major role in these commits.  Forbes carries a core GPA of 3.60 while Crosthwaite has a 2.80.

“I'd have to say everything was right about Cal.  The campus, the program, the education... it was all the right situation for me, especially the education. I wanted to go a place with great academics and they've got one of the top business programs in the nation so that was definitely a big plus.”

- Crosthwaite on his commit to Cal

Forbes is a gifted athlete that played on offense as a running back and on defense as an inside linebacker.  Scouting services say he could play outside as well due to his great speed, listed at 4.60.  He is also a track and field star in the discus throw, but he has stated that he only intends to play football at the next level.

Click here to read rest of story.

SF Examiner: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 2

By Rob Calonge

As we near the end of our top 10 list of most valuable Bears in 2009, we get to what I think may be my very favorite of the group.  For those of you just joining the conversation, this list is not about which Bear is the most talented, or who will have the best season.  No, this list is about who the Golden Bears need playing well in order for their preseason rankings to end up being justified.

My disdain for the pre-preseason rankings is what inspired me to create this list, because without these guys, and without them playing well, those rankings that you've been reading about lately are nothing but letters on a page computer screen.  Some of my selections are based on the player winning the starting job in camp, but in those situations the position merits the importance just as much as the player.  All the players play a part in the winning tradition of a program like Cal's, but not everyone plays a role as important as some.

Link to rest of article.

Friday, June 19, 2009

SF Examiner: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 3

After naming two special teams players and two offensive players to the top 10 most valuable Bears list, we are at No. 3 - which ends up being the fourth defensive player named.  Rest assured that the offense isn't being neglected on this list.  All players on the team are important for the role that they have, but these players will need to either step up and excel at their roles, or the Bears, and especially their fans, could be looking at another letdown.

Zack Follett leaves big shoes to fill as he saunters off to the Detroit Lions to continue his career as a pro.  Bear Backers know how important Follett was to the team.  The transition to the 3-4 defense only allowed Follett to better showcase the tenacity that those who had watched him in the 4-3, already knew he had.  He'll be sorely missed, and that's not an indictment on his replacement.  That's why his replacement lands on the list of MVB's at the No. 3 spot.  Right now, that replacement is Devin Bishop, but he'll have to beat out JUCO transfer Ryan Davis this summer if he is to be the heir apparent to last year's Bears defensive captain.

Read the rest here.

SF Examiner: NACDA acknowledges what Bear Backers already knew

I'm sure that by now, this doesn't come as news to most of you.  The news that I'm talking about is the naming of Sandy Barbour as one of four regional Under Armour Athletic Directors of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).  It wasn't long ago that Bear Backers were a special, tight-knit group of diehard Cal fans who had become accustomed to losing.  Very few of the programs were actually successful prior to Barbour being named as the university’s athletic director.  Since becoming the head honcho of the athletics program, there have been 53 individual and team national championships won, been in the top 10 for the NACDA director's cup five times, and has been instrumental in structuring a program that nearly half of the student-athletes maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

She may not have been the one to hire some of the great coaches that she has on staff, but it's to her credit that she's added more talent to her coaching arsenal while keeping the talent that she inherited.  Many have credited Jeff Tedford for the push to improve the athletic facilities, since it was he that stipulated that as a show-stopper in a previous contract.  Somebody had to get the money for it, and keep Tedford around while tree huggers hijacked the construction.

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SF Examiner: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 4

First, let me apologize for the other day.  I hate it when I make a promise that I don't keep, and especially when I do that here in this space.  Wednesday, I was at the Oakland Raiders' final OTA before training camp starts at the end of July.  Unfortunately, Nnamdi Asomugha wasn't at the voluntary team workout - one of the perks of signing a lucrative contract.  I didn't get an opportunity to speak with former Cal line coach Jim Michalczik or lineman Mark Wilson, as many of the players and coaches were unavailable for comment.

That's code for: I didn't see Wilson come off the practice field, and by the time that I saw Michalczik, he was already at the door to the facility.  In other words, I sucked big-time.  I'll do my best to make it up to you by getting to No. 4 of our Top 10 MVB's of 2009.  I'll even throw in a bonus;  Instead of recapping all of the unveiled players, I've listed them to the left, with all of the links, just for those who may have missed it.

Hey, that's gotta' count for something. Moving on, bowlbasaur called it the other day when he brought up Kevin Riley as one of the top four.  I realize that had I put Riley a little lower on the list, the final few may have been harder to guess.

Link to rest of article.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SF Examiner: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 5

By Rob Calonge

As we roll along on our list of top-10 MVB's (most valuable Bears), you may have noticed that talent isn't always going to help a player's ranking.  As I've said before, this list is about the irreplaceable players at critical positions for the Bears.

Also, let me reiterate that I believe everyone on the team plays an important part, and is valuable in what they contribute to the team - in many cases, you're only as good as your depth.  With that said, I'll go ahead and catch those up who have missed the last five on the list.

At No. 10, Bryan Anger and his ability to change field position started the list.  Cal's passing game was a problem last year, so the speed receiver needs to come up big in 2009 - which is why I selected Marvin Jones, (or whoever wins the job), at No. 9.

With special teams and offense represented early, No. 8 put the defense on the board with Tyson Alualu.  With all three teams represented, I went back to special teams.  The placekicker, (Giorgio Tavecchio or David Seawright), came in at No. 7 - because you need to score points every chance you get.

Link to rest of story.

Monday, June 15, 2009

SF Examiner: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 6

By Rob Calonge

It's Monday again, and that means it's time to get back to the grind.  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  It's time for me to put down my XBOX 360 controller and get back to the task at hand - No. 6 on my list of MVB's, (Most Valuable Bears), for 2009. 

Let's begin with a recap of the last four in.  At No. 10, Bryan Anger started the list off.  Our next candidate, coming in at No. 9, is Marvin Jones (or whoever lines up as the speed receiver).  After a special teams player and an offensive player, Tyson Alualu became the first defensive player named at No. 8.  On Friday, we went back to special teams and named the kicker, Giorgio Tavecchio or David Seawright, at No. 7.

While every player that has been listed is a good player, this list doesn't necessarily rate how good players are.  These players are either irreplaceable or need to have good seasons in order for the Bears to be amongst the best at the end of the year.  I think that it should be obvious that every player on the team is important when they are on the field, whether it be in practice or on game day.  So with that said, let's move on to No. 6 - Syd'Quan Thompson.

Link to rest of story.

Friday, June 12, 2009

SF Examiner: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 7

By Rob Calonge

As we continue our list, we have already selected one special teams player, one offensive player, and one defensive player.  Since nearly every coach talks about 'all three phases' of the game, I think that this top-10 list is going pretty least, so far.  As I've been doing every step of the way, I'll recap for those who may have missed it.  Bryan Anger and his big leg started the list off at No. 10.  After that, I cheated a little and chose Marvin Jones or the receiver that lines up opposite the possession receiver - Nyan Boateng or Jeremy Ross - as the No. 9 MVB (Most Valuable Bear).  My latest selection was defensive star Tyson Alualu at No. 8.

So who, or more importantly, what position should be the focus of MVB No. 7?  Do I take a step towards the offense and place the focus on scoring touchdowns, or should I think more defensively, and about the players who's job it is to prevent those touchdowns? I'm sure that either of those solutions would be more popular than the one I came up with, but daggone it, I just can't see how my following pick shouldn't be in the discussion.  That's right, four picks in and I'm selecting my second special teams player.

I selected No. 7 as a toss-up between either Giorgio Tavecchio or David Seawright; yes, kickers.  I'm also cheating again.  Like with Cal's speed receiver, I'm uncertain about who will be starting when the season begins, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't either of these two guys.

Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Video Interview with Jahvid Best

SF Chronicle: Best news is . . . he's running again

By Ron Kroichick

In the quiet days of June, nearly three months before its season opener, Cal still reached a significant milepost this week: Jahvid Best ran pain-free pass routes in Memorial Stadium, happily mingling with his teammates.  Best, recovering from January surgeries on his foot and elbow, joined other Golden Bears players as they launched their summer workout program. That mostly involves running and lifting weights, but it also meant spending about 45 minutes on the field Monday, running routes and informally throwing the ball around.

"I'm feeling great," Best said Tuesday. "It's a relief. That was a big step, to be out there with the guys. It was really satisfying."  Best is running full speed and changing directions, with no limitations in the wake of his rehabilitation. That's welcome news to coach Jeff Tedford, who knows Best gives the Bears an explosive option at running back. Despite his lingering injuries, Best ran for 1,580 yards as a sophomore last season, making him the nation's leading rusher among players returning in 2009. Best is receiving prominent mention in early Heisman Trophy watch lists.  Tedford cannot supervise the summer workouts, but Cal's trainers told him Best is moving "full bore," with no problems.

Link to rest of article.

SF Examiner: Asomugha finally getting pub - for K.J. it's just "A day in the life"

By Rob Calonge

It took about five years before anybody not following the Cal Bears or the Oakland Raiders realized the gem that is Nnamdi Asomugha.  It also took about that long before Al Davis gave him a contract that is more in line with the type of performance that Raider Nation has become accustomed to ($45.375 million over three years - highest in NFL history).  As with everything in American society nowadays, you're only as good as your last contract.  Thanks to Mr. Davis, Asomugha is now considered the best or one of the top two or three at his position.  So if you haven't followed Asomugha since he donned the silver and black of the Raiders, you may find a story by Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated to be a very interesting tale.  Actually, you may find it interesting even if you have been following the former Golden Bear.

Read the rest of the article here.

SF Examiner: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 9

By Rob Calonge

In case you missed it, yesterday I began my list of top 10 most valuable Cal Bears for the 2009 football season.  For those of you with a short attention span, number 10 is Bryan Anger.  My next selection is an odd one, even by my very obtuse standards of judgement.  I had a difficult time deciding this spot, which goes to show that I am uncertain of my final choice.  Here's some of the criteria that brought me to the decision that I will reveal momentarily. First, which position is critical enough, but not that necessary to select for the ninth most important player?  Do I select someone from the well-stocked Cal secondary?  What about picking a guy from the offensive or defensive lines?  in this fairly new 3-4 alignment, it's well known how important linebackers are - do I select one of them?

The answer to that question, at least for me, is the position of wide receiver.  I chose that spot because of what the Bears were able to accomplish last year without a standout catching balls - one who lined up closer to the sidelines than the quarterback.

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

SF Examiner: Cal Football: Top 10 most valuable Bears in 2009 - No. 10

By Rob Calonge

While many media publications have begun rattling off their top-20 lists, preseason All-Americans, and conference rankings, you may have noticed that you haven't seen any of those things pointed out here in this space.  I could easily be like everyone else and pretend that these rankings mean anything.  Actually, if I had any credibility in predicting sports winners and losers, I'd be living in Vegas with little interest in telling you my picks.  Let's face it, nobody has a clue what the 2009 season has in store for now.  So instead of ranking the teams of the Pac-10, let's localize our focus to the Cal Bears for now.  Prior to the start of the season, just prior, I'll give you my prediction of the Pac-10 and possibly a top 20.

Link to rest of story.


Monday, June 01, 2009

SF Examiner: Keeping up with the rookies

By Rob Calonge

Being away from this space for the last few days has given me an appreciation for all things Cal.  While I've been gone, there hasn't been a whole lot going on in the world of Cal football.  The Solano County Library is doing something to preserve a little bit of Solano County / California history.  It's all part of their California of the Past program where they've set up a 'digital storytelling' station for locals to record a piece of their history.

Vacaville's The Reporter has a transcript of Cal's Bill Powell discussing his 1951 record-setting touchdown run from scrimmage - a 98-yard romp.  Here's part of it: 

“As the quarterback handed the ball to me, the Cal guard crossed over to block Oregon's tackle and Cal's tackle blocked Oregon's guard -- that's the cross block -- one player right, one left. I went in between the two Cal blockers and started up the field angling out toward the right sideline. My teammates gave me great blocking. I had nothing to do but hold on to that ball and run.” - Bill Powell

Getting up to date with more current former players is a little easier, albiet maybe not as interesting as Bill Powell telling his tale.

Link to rest of article.