PREDICTION - CALIFORNIA AT WASHINGTON STATE
Well, Cal isn't going to win this game - I think we all can agree on that point. Even if WSU wasn't playing its best basketball of the year, and even if Cal's young players weren't in late-season free fall, we'd still have to deal with Friel Court. Cal has won five of the last six contests with the Cougs in Pullman, but that recent success can't wipe the awful memories from my mind. From 1991 to 2000 Cal had some pretty good teams, and Wazzu just plain sucked. Still, the Bears lost eight times during that decade on the Palouse, including the horrifying 89-87 loss in 1997 when Ed Gray broke his foot and was lost for the season.
Friel Court - the 2/3 filled arena, the soft blond (almost white) wood on the floor, and the slightly fuzzy camera work that suggested a game broadcast from Brazil. George Raveling once said of Pullman, "it's not the end of the earth, but you can see if from there." This has historically been a tough road trip for not only Cal, but Arizona as well, who has lost some truly inexplicable games on the Palouse in recent years.
This year WSU's success is easy enough to explain. They get after shooters and clog the passing lanes. On offense they are surgically efficient, led by Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver, who presents a matchup problem for most two guards. Cal has no answer for Weaver, and the Cougars are efficient enough to translate a single mismatch into consistent offensive flow all game long.
And then there's Friel Court. The good news is that WSU isn't a blow-you-out team, and Cal should be able to hang around and hope for off nights from the Cougars' perimeter shooters. Not likely, but it's a puncher's chance.
Washington State 66 California 58
A MAP OF 2007 RECRUITING
is a fun site that uses Google's mapping software, tailored to the CFB fan. You can select maps of university cities, complete with tags for the stadium, local points of interest, lodging, entertainment, etc. For those inclined to make the Colorado State roadie, here's a map of majestic Fort Collins
MGD has also done a nice job with 2007 recruiting, giving users an interface that allows you to see the hometowns of recruits for an individual school or conference. To save you the hassle, here are the links to the '07 classes for Pac-10 schools: Arizona
, Arizona State
, Oregon State
and Washington State
. Here's the entire Pac-10 conference
in one tidy package.
As you can see from the links, Stanford is the only conference school that truly recruits on a national basis; this is one reason Cal rarely goes head to head with the Cardinal for a player. Everyone else stays pretty close to home, with the exception of USC's 5-star raids and a new national flavor to Arizona State's recruiting under Dennis Erickson.
What's really interesting is the low number of high D-1A prospects from the Bay Area this year. According to MGD, Bay Area schools sent only 24 3-star and above players to BCS conference teams this year and 10 of them were Jucos. The breakdown of where they went is both interesting and reassuring to Cal fans. The names are segregated by Scout.com star ratings; those players offered by Cal are in bold type
Alesana Alesana, OT (CCSF) Kansas StateJahvid BestDevin BishopMike CalvinBrandon Carswell, WR (Milpitas HS) USC
Zach Lee, QB (CCSF) Nebraska
Kenny O'Neal, WR (CCSF) Tennessee
Josh Riddell, QB (Foothill JC) Mississippi StateSteve Sloan, LB (Archbishop Mitty HS, San Jose) UCLA
Austin Stafford, LB (Hayward HS) NebraskaMatt Summers-Gavin
Joseph Townsend, DT (Foothill JC b/w Valley Christian HS, San Jose) Nebraska
Tonio Celotto, DL (Piedmont HS) Oregon
Mike Cole, OL (Foothill JC) Oregon State
Durrell Clark-James, CB (CCSF) Minnesota
Rhett Ellison, TE (St. Francis, Mountain View) USC
Willie Griffin, RB (McClymonds HS, Oakland) Washington
Roy Helu, FB (San Ramon Valley HS - Danville) Nebraska
Mike Marcisz, OT (Granada HS - Livermore) Arizona State
Kevin Lopina, QB (De La Salle HS) Washington State
Ako Poti, OT (CCSF) Penn State
De'Shon Sanders, CB (CCSF) Texas Tech
Logan Uu, LB (Laney JC) Minnesota
Several things from this - we only offered seven Bay Area players from this list and landed five. That's pretty impressive. Also, Oregon got but one guy (who Cal didn't offer). That's in part because it was a down year for Bay Area talent, but it's also because Cal has solidified its control of a region that used to serve as the Ducks' backyard: the Ducks offered MSG, Best, Calvin and Lagemann. Since 2004, when Oregon landed the highly-touted De La Salle triplets (Colvin, Glasper and Bates), the Ducks have not landed a single Bay Area recruit who was offered by both Oregon and Cal. The LA schools are a different story, but Cal is still holding its own in head-to-head battles with both UCLA and USC. The Trojans get Carswell and Josh Tatum ('06), Cal gets Derrick Hill, Jahvid Best and MSG.
You can also select states and see which D-1A players they produced this year (and where they're going). Alaska? Exactly one D-1A prospect, who's heading to Oklahoma State. Another fun fact: Only 22% of California players signed with a California school. Here's the California map
Hope you enjoy the site; a mercifully brief WSU hoops preview coming tomorrow.
ST. MICHAEL OF TUCSON
(photo: Tucson Citizen)
In the unlikely event you're ever asked to define the word 'disingenuous,' I suggest you refer to these comments by Mike Stoops
. Stoops called out Oregon by name and implied that other Pac-10 programs engaged in "negative recruiting." Hmmm, when was the last time a conference coach played the negative card against his rivals? That's right, the year was 2002 and the coach was Rick Neuheisel, himself a paragon of virtue and maturity. Slick Rick and Mad Mike are pots of the same color, indeed.
Stoops even implies that Oregon is desperate for recruits since the Cats beat them 37-10 in Eugene last season. I can just see Phil Knight on his emerald throne barking orders at his swooshed underlings: "Top 10 class? Fine, but just be sure that you steal some of Arizona's recruits!" Laughable. The author suggests that Stoops is also angry at Tedford, though he never directly refers to Cal.
Negative recruiting? I think Mike's done enough of that himself by losing six coaches
this offseason. That's probably Bellotti's fault, too. But the piece de resistance is this quote, which actually came out of Mike Stoops' mouth:
"Your character and what you stand for is way, way more important. If you don't have a conscience, you are not going to last at this level of competition.''
Call him St. Michael, the patron saint of clean living and honest recruiting. We'll remember this quote, Your Holiness, when the NCAA fixes the probation shackles to your pudgy wrists. Or on the occasion of your next DUI arrest - whichever comes first. Have fun with your new coaching staff.
WASHINGTON 79 CALIFORNIA 71
Down and out? (AP/Ted Warren)
I have no idea how Cal only lost this game by eight points (and how it was a two-point game with five minutes to play).
* Cal shot 45% to Washington's 55%. Ryan Anderson was MIA for much of the game before hitting some late shots. Cal missed open shot after open shot.
* The Bears got to the free throw line seven times
in forty minutes. Washington shot 24, making 18.
* Speaking of home cooking, the refs let Jon Brockman hand-check and push Anderson all over the floor. On the offensive end, he led with his elbow time after time and was only called for it once. That said, Brockman played an unbelievable game. He took the game over towards the end.
* The charging call on Theo towards the end of the game was the worst call in a big situation I've seen this year.
* Cal got beat on the glass 34-21, though the Bears limited UW to six offensive boards.
* It's beyond me what Ben Braun was doing with Anderson, who was guarded by Brockman. Sticking Ryan in the post allowed Brockman to stay in the paint and collect almost every defensive board. Why not put him on his horse by running Anderson on the baseline?
* While I'm piling on Ben, why did Randle start the second half after playing poorly in the first? That five minute stretch before Ayinde came back was the difference in the ballgame. I know Ayinde isn't 100%, but this was a must-win game and you knew Washington was going to crank it up defensively to start the half.
* The NIT is now a reach goal.
PREVIEW & PREDICTION - CALIFORNIA AT WASHINGTON
The Golden Bears travel to Seattle tonight to take on the Pac-10's enigma, the Washington Huskies. The Bears surprised the Huskies in overtime at Haas 77-69; can they repeat that magic in a building where Washington has lost only once this season?In the first matchup...
Cal dominated a much taller Husky team inside, pulling down 47 rebounds and scoring countless second-chance baskets. Interestingly, the Bears had a poor shooting night, averaging only 38% from the floor and 24% from three - well below their season averages. Ryan Anderson was only 5-16 and Omar Wilkes was 5-14 for Cal. The UW game marked the emergence of Theo Robertson, who shook off a disappointing start to the season to add 14 points and 8 boards.What's changed
Following a horrible blowout loss to WSU at Friel Court, UW went on a mini-run, sweeping the Oregon schools at home and beating ASU in Tempe. Then came a trip to the McKale Center, where struggling Arizona (right
) wiped the floor with the Dawgs 84-54. Repeating a theme that has plagued the Huskies all season long, the Cats shot 57% from the field in the victory. Even in the win over Oregon, the Ducks shot 54% (they lost due to turnovers and a 26-13 differential at the foul line). These Huskies simply don't defend well, and they must run and score bunches of points to win games.
Lorenzo Romar has shuffled his lineup since our first meeting, sending heralded freshman Spencer Hawes
to the bench (he still averages about 28 minutes a game). Hawes has been slowed by the flu and an ankle sprain, which may explain Romar's move. There may be something else at work, though. Despite good numbers (14.6 ppg), Hawes has occasionally struggled to get into a rhythm on offense, and he hasn't provided the type of help on the glass that Washington expected. The Seattle Times
both ran fairly unflattering columns today comparing Hawes with Cal's Anderson.
Romar suggested in today's paper that he might switch up his starting lineup; this could indicate that Hawes will reclaim his starting role from sophomore Artem Wallace
. The rest of the starting five figures to be Jon Brockman
and Phil Nelson
in the front court, with Justin Dentmon
and Ryan Appleby
at guard. Quincy Pondexter
), who lit it up for the Huskies in non-conference play, has been reduced to coming off the bench (he's averaging twenty minutes in a relief role).
Keys to the Game- Home cooking
. If Cal decides to crash the boards hard on offense, could they fall into foul trouble? Three Bears - Robertson, Eric Vierneisel and Taylor Harrison - finished the first UW game with four fouls. Cal shot 30 free throws to UW's 25. Vierneisel should return, but I haven't seen anything confirming that fact; in any event, Cal is paper thin and can't afford to have their big guns in foul trouble.- Perimeter shooting
. Cal shot poorly in the first game, and will need a much better performance tonight to get the W.- Rebounding
. I don't expect a repeat of 47-36, but Cal needs to control the defensive glass and limit second-chance points for Brockman, in particular.- Mental toughness
. Do the Huskies have it? If they lose this game, UW would need to win the Pac-10 tournament to have a chance at the NCAAs. Some Husky fans have thrown in the towel; others are sniping at the team's performance, especially on the defensive end. UW is a very young team, and it's an open question how freshmen and sophomores will respond to the drama swirling around their program.
Washington has lost only once at home (to Arizona), and it's a tall order to expect Cal to grab #2. I do expect the Bears to keep it close, but the combination of a motivated Husky team with the home court advantage should help Washington eke one out. Let's hope the Tightwad Hill track record of lousy predictions continues...
Washington 79 California 75
RECRUITING RECAP - WHAT'S IT ALL MEAN?
As we summarized yesterday, Cal signed 26 new football players to letters of intent yesterday. (We forgot Florida transfer Nyan Boateng, who we'll profile at a later date) National experts seem to think Cal did pretty well; that's great, but we don't put much faith in recruiting rankings. Here are some thoughts on the Class of '07:Need
As we've noted in our early depth charts, Cal returns an awful lot next year, especially on offense. There are no gaping holes on offense, though Cal would perhaps welcome an offensive line backup or two. Defense is another question. The Bears badly need immediate contributors at defensive end, given that Philip Mbakogu looks very unlikely to return to the team. They could also use backup depth in the defensive backfield.
You would have to say that this class addresses areas of need. To nitpick, it would have been nice to find a JC defensive end who could step in and play immediately. Alex Cook apparently doesn't have the size Delgado wants at that position, so he will contend for time at SLB. Conte was, in our view, a huge get since he will be the "tall corner" of the future. Tedford's comments
at his press conference indicated a willingness to let freshmen compete for playing time, so we may see fewer blueshirts in this class.Balance
This is the most often-overlooked aspect of a recruiting class. Most teams get this right, but there are notable exceptions. Rick Neuheisel's classes at Washington were filled with lots of backs and receivers, but too few linemen on either side of the ball. The Huskies paid for this oversight in subsequent seasons as opponents pushed them all over the field.
USC doesn't care too much about balance. They will stockpile the best recruits regardless of need and hold Darwinian practice competitions to determine the starter. Trojan fans can say that Joe McKnight and Marc Tyler are different sorts of backs - they may well be, but last I checked SC only had one tailback position. Lynch and Forsett were different, too, but only one of them got the ball each down.
Stockpiling recruits made lots of sense in the days before scholarship limits. Bear Bryant perfected the art at Alabama, and had a depth chart full of decorated stars who rarely saw the field. He just wanted to ensure those stars didn't start at Auburn or LSU. But today, if you put a HS All-American third on your depth chart you lose something - you lose a scholarship that might have gone to a player with a better chance of contributing. I'm not knocking SC's class at all - it looks great and they should continue to be the big dog in the Pac-10. I am questioning Carroll's overall philosophy when it comes to scholarship balance. It's fine to say that CJ Gable is going to switch to defense - but is he going to be a good DB? Will he respond to the position switch? What does that do to team chemistry?
Cal's class is extremely balanced: 1 QB, 2 TB, 1 FB, 2 WR, 2 TE, 5 OL, 4 DE, 4 LB, 3 DB, 1 P. The only position where Cal scored a donut was defensive tackle. This was in part intentional, since Cal didn't push too hard for many players at the position. But taken in the context of the entire team - where we return a starting DT in Malele and have capable young people in Costanzo and Hill - it's not too big of a concern. Misses
Fans tend to focus on misses, which can corrupt their vision of a class. Everyone loses players - well, everyone except USC. Misses really hurt when the player in question is demonstrably superior to any "replacements" that are signed, or the team can't find anyone to fill a position of need. Cal doesn't have any glaring misses this year, with the possible exceptions of Brian Price and Matthew Masifilo - well-regarded defensive tackles who chose UCLA and Stanford, respectively.
Others have focused on Akeem Ayers (UCLA) and Kenny Rowe (Oregon); well, I'll reserve judgment since I believe Scott Smith could wind up being better than either of them. At running back, it might have been terrific to get Marc Tyler (we never had a shot), but I'm more than happy with Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen. What does Tyler's extra star mean? Probably not much, given recent history. How about Malcolm Smith at WLB? Is he a lot better than Mullins or Holt? Is he better at all? Time will tell.Other Trivia About the Class
* Highest number of out-of-state recruits (nine) during the Tedford era.
* No academic issues that we are aware of. This class is full of good students (as noted in our capsule profiles yesterday)
* First class since '04 without a Pacific Northwest player. More Hawaiians (three) than any other Tedford class (any Cal class, I believe).
* No one seems to have caught this, but there are only five
Bay Area players out of 25, an amazingly low number.
* Tedford mentioned a number of players who could make an immediate contribution. In addition to the Jucos, he named Best, Vereen, Smith and Jordan as guys who could play immediately. He also noted that the OL class would have a chance to "come in and show what they can do."
CLASS OF 2007 - DBs AND SPECIALISTS
(Safety - Hubbard HS, Chicago)
Reported offers: Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Kansas State, NIU, Mississippi State
- He's a converted QB. We love converted quarterbacks because they tend to fly beneath the recruiting radar.
- Cattouse has a big frame (6'3") and is a workout warrior, training with the same guy who works with Luol Deng and other members of the Bulls. Can teach his teammates Pilates.
- Overshadowed in HS by All-America RB Robert Hughes, who chose Notre Dame over virtually every program.
- The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cattouse is the first Chicagoland football player to attend Cal on a scholarship. I can't think of one off-hand - can anyone?D.J. Campbell
(Corner - Cheyenne HS, Las Vegas)
Reported Offers: Arizona State
- Played safety his senior year after starting at corner in both his sophomore and junior years. Recorded 61 tackles, 8 interceptions (four returned for TD), 2 forced fumbles and 3 recoveries.
- Like Cattouse, Campbell started at QB (and also punted). Projects as a college corner.
- Has a 39-inch vertical leap
- Named to the Nevada 4A all-state team as a starting DB.
- HS mascot was the "Desert Shields." From all accounts Campbell was a bit of a one-man show for his school, but he still led them to a finish as league runner-up.Chris Conte (Corner - Loyola HS, Los Angeles)
Reported offers: UCLA- Listed as a Bruin commit in this morning's LA Times. All through Conte's de-commit and the run-up to LOI day, Cal coaches were reasonably confident that he would come to Berkeley.
- Played both ways for Loyola, but earned highest marks for his work at cornerback. Despite postings that he would definitely switch to safety, he probably projects at corner at the collegiate level (though he could make a fine FS).
- Stands 6'3" or 6'4" depending on which report you read, which would make him a good matchup with taller receivers in the conference.
- Made a key interception in Loyola's 14-0 upset of Mater Dei in the Division 1 semifinals in 2005. Loyola went on to win the CIF title.
(Punter - Camarillo Adolfo HS)
Reported offers: LSU, Clemson, Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Boise State
- Averaged 42.1 yards per punt during his senior year
- Led the Chris Sailer kicking camp with a 4.9 average hang time (a ridiculous number)
- More than a kicker, he led his HS in receiving with a 16.5 yard per catch average. Think of him as a punter in the Ray Guy mold who could also play other positions. No pressure with the Ray Guy comparison, of course.
- Is the highest ranked recruit at his position in Cal's entire '07 class (2nd punter in the nation behind Chas Henry (committed to Florida).
CLASS OF 2007 - LINEBACKERS
(Linebacker - Crespi HS, Encino)
Reported offers: Arizona State, Washington, SDSU, Fresno State
- Named CIF Division X Defensive Player of the Year after a senior year in which he recorded 72 tackles and 12 sacks. Battled a sore shoulder for most of the season. Also named LA Daily News Defensive Player of the Year.
- Played defensive end in HS but will almost certainly switch to linebacker at Cal. There are suggestions he will fit in a middle backer.
- An opposing coach said of Holt, "He's a Division 1 athlete whether he's playing outside backer, defensive end or any other position. He's just a premium player."Robert Mullins
(Linebacker - Dorsey HS, Los Angeles)
Reported offers: Oregon, Arizona, ASU
- Potential. If not for a truly awful hip injury that wiped out his senior season, Mullins might have been the highest rated LB in California. Teamed with Ohio State's Mark Johnson in high school to form the state's leading LB corps, but it was Mullins who got most of the attention.
- Recorded a mind-boggling 165 tackles in his junior season.
- Claims to be almost 100% rehabbed from his injury, which involved damaged cartilage deep in his hip socket.
- Another outstanding student, he carries a 3.4 GPA taking AP courses and plans to study architecture. Dad is a LA County sheriff, and according to a 2005 LA Times feature on Mullins "doesn't take anything but A's and B's" from his son in school.Devin Bishop
Reported offers: Minnesota
- You already know the family: Brother Desmond was an important leader on the 2006 team.
- A strange recruiting saga saw him bounce back and forth between Minnesota and Cal. Once Devin's academics passed Cal muster, he landed with the Bears.
- 2nd team Juco All-American at CCSF; led the team in tackles and helped CCSF to the state final where they lost to El Camino.
- Projects at middle backer, just like his big brother. We'll see if he can cover sideline to sideline like him, too. A great get who adds immediate help at LB.Alex Cook
(SLB - Blinn College, TX)
Reported offers: Arkansas, Louisville, Tennessee, ASU among others
- Excelled at DE, but LB coach Kenwick Thompson sees him playing SLB at Cal. Blinn limited opponents to 120 yards of offense per game.
- Recorded five sacks in a single game against #2 JC Pearl River.
- At Osceola High School in Seminole, FL Cook was an All-State selection as a senior.
- Runs a 4.5 forty. Let us repeat - he runs a 4.5 forty. Matt Felder just got some competition.
CLASS OF 2007 - DEFENSIVE LINE
(Defensive End - Chandler HS, Arizona)
Reported offers: Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, ASU, OSU
- Father was a 6-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Vikings - Niner fans will remember him and gnash their teeth. Dad went to Brown, so academics were stressed in the Jordan household.
- Despite a mediocre forty time, Jordan was highly recruited because he's "ready to play" with good technique.
- Recorded 17.5 sacks and 85 tackles as a senior. His team went 11-2 and contended for the state championship in Arizona.
- May play as a true freshman (according to Jordan, Coach Delgado says two true freshman will contribute on the DL in '07)Ernest Owusu
(Defensive End - The Hun
School, Princeton NJ)
Reported offers: North Carolina, Washington, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Minnesota
- Attended the Hun School for one year after four years at Father Ryan HS in Nashville. Reportedly added thirty pounds during his prep year.
- The Hun School is a leading college prep school; Myron Rolle
was by some accounts the #1 prospect in the class of '06.
- Owusu is a fairly common surname in Ghana, West Africa. Not sure whether EO's parents trace their heritage back there, but it's a fair guess.
- The fact that Tedford/Delgado took him with three DEs safely in the fold tells you something about Owusu's potential (and Cal's lack of depth at the position).Scott Smith
(Defensive End - St. Louis, Honolulu)
Reported offers: Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Boise State, Hawai'i
- I've seen him listed as tall as 6'7". Whatever his height, he's the tallest DE in this class.
- Recorded 14 sacks and led St. Louis (one of Hawai'i's traditional FB powers) to the state championship. Rated the 5th best prospect in Hawai'i and voted All-State at DE.
- The second Cal commit to have some history with hip problems - Smith missed camps with a bad pulled muscle in his hip in 2006.
- Also a very good basketball player, which we just know is a good sign.Solomona Aigamaua
(Defensive End - St. Louis, Honolulu
Reported offers: Arizona, Utah, Hawai'i, SDSU
- Call him the sleeper. Aigamaua is very quick off the edge, but seriously undersized for his position. Will use his blueshirt year to add bulk.
- Almost completely unnoticed until he participated in a May combine and wowed scouts with his speed and agility.
- Another good student; carries a 3.85 GPA.
- Along with Smith, a high school teammate of Cal DT/DE Tyson Alualu
. St. Louis is a great place to develop a little pipeline. Also starts for the basketball team.
CLASS OF 2007 - OFFENSIVE LINE
(Guard - St. Ignatius HS, San Francisco)
Reported offers: Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon among many others
- Invited to the US Army All-American game, but sat out with a high ankle sprain
- Led St. Ignatius to its first CCS title in 39 years in 2006.
- Played tackle in high school, but is likely to move down to guard in college.
- While he'll probably blueshirt, MSG is polished enough to conceivably play as a freshman.Sam DeMartinis
(Tackle - Notre Dame HS, Sherman Oaks CA)
Reported offers: Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Ole Miss, SDSU
- Excelled after Notre Dame made the switch from Division III to the Pac-5 Division and the Serra League, which includes Loyola, Bishop Amat and other powers.
- Brother Tony plays at San Diego State. Dad Jack played at UCLA, but the Bruins never offered his son.
- Team captain his senior year; tore a tendon in his ring finger that forced him to miss the playoffs.
- A ringleader of a group of incoming recruits who have committed to go to the Rose Bowl on various social networking sites.Mitchell Schwartz
(Tackle - Palisades Charter HS)
Reported offers: Michigan, Tennessee, Oregon, Stanford, Virginia
- His brother Geoff plays at Oregon.
- 4.87 shuttle speed is very good for a 300-pounder. According to reports, he's never been in a serious weight training program, so there's probably lots of upside there.
- Schwartz is a good athlete, pitching on the Palisades baseball team.
- Another good student, carrying a 4.0 GPA and a 29 on the ACT.Todd Huber
(Center - Palos Verdes Penninsula HS)
Reported offers: Arizona State, Washington, Oregon State, Stanford
- Older brother Scott played at SC (98-02)
- 3.9 GPA/1820 SAT
- Admitted to Stanford before he turned them down. Yes, it happens. Increasingly.
- Crazy 4.55 shuttle time given his size. Very quick feet.
- Signed with Cal despite hailing from the same high school as Erik Lorig.Justin Cheadle
(OL/DL - Bakersfield HS)
Reported offers: Stanford, Oregon State, ASU, Arizona
- Another lineman who was a basketball star in HS. Very athletic, which has led some to believe he might play defense. So far, the coaching staff maintains he's an OL recruit.
- Rated by Scout as the 3rd best OG in California.
- Another great student; carries a 3.8 GPA.
- Greatest HS nickname ever - the Bakersfield Drillers
CLASS OF 2007 - RECEIVERS
(Receiver - Saratoga HS)
Reported offers: Oregon, BYU, Boise State
- Grew up a Stanford fan; family had season tickets. Still committed to Cal before his senior season began.
- Good all-around athlete; played varsity baseball and basketball as well.
- One of few Cal commits with YouTube highlights, which can be found here
(Receiver - San Lorenzo HS)
Reported offers: Oregon, Utah
- Posted the fastest forty time (4.49) at the Stanford football camp. This is the second consecutive year Cal got the fastest guy at that camp (Jeremy Ross being the winner last year).
- Pretty good basketball player; has a 41-inch vertical.
- Caught 37 passes for 794 yards and 9 scores (with 3 more scores rushing). Pretty good safety, too.
- We really need a picture of him with a different shirt on.Savai'i Eselu
(Tight End - Moanalua HS, Honolulu)
Reported offers: Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, Colorado, SDSU
- Was thought to be an Oregon commit before switching his allegiance to Cal in December.
- More heralded as a DE in high school; Moanalua ran the option and Eselu's touches were limited.
- By all accounts, he is a devastating blocker and would seem to be a nice fit in run packages.
- High school team nickname was the Menehunes, which refers to a mythical people who lived in the deep forests of the Hawaiian islands and ate bananas. We're not making that up
(Tight End - Butte JC)
Reported offers: none
- Prepped at Woodland in the Sacramento area, where his HS QB was Daniel Pinegar, brother of Fresno State QB Paul Pinegar.
- Broke his ankle in a high school all-star game, which sent him off to Butte. Good student throughout HS and JC with a 3.7 GPA. Tedford followed him throughout his rehab, and he was the first recruit to sign an LOI.
- Reportedly benches 350 and squats 500; it's thought he could add another 15-20 pounds given his frame.
- Will become the first Cal football player named Skylar.
CLASS OF 2007 - BACKS
(Quarterback - The Episcopal School of Dallas)
Reported offers: Baylor, Mississippi State
- Played at a relatively small school - ESD has 400 kids from grades 9 through 12, and competes in the private school classification in Texas. Transferred there from Plano HS.
- Didn't hit it off with Mike Leach, according to a Rivals site, so he's not very piratey. His father, who has been quite involved in Brock's career, fell in love with Tedford early.
- Can run pretty well; covered 900 yards and nine TDs his senior year.
- Volunteers with Ronald McDonald House and the Dallas Food Pantry. Nice touch.Jahvid Best
(Running Back - Salesian HS, Richmond CA)
Reported offers: Notre Dame, USC, Oregon
- Gained 3,325 yards and scored 48 touchdowns at Salesian. This year
- Won the 100m and 200m at the NCS Meet of Champions. Placed third and fifth in those races, respectively, at the CIF state meet in 2006 with a broken bone in his foot
. May be faster than DJax.
- Named Player of the Year
by the Chronicle.
- Quote from his HS coach: "He's never late. Never cuts class. He does his homework; never misses practice. He practices hard, follows instruction and is respectful to others."Shane Vereen
(Running Back - Valencia HS)
Reported offers: USC, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, UNLV, Duke
- His father played football for UNLV (and in the CFL), which is why the Rebs were invited into the process.
- Good student, carries a 3.8 GPA
- Recruited primarily as a DB by SC and UCLA. Vereen is super quick and some think he might challenge Best for the fastest back in the class.
- Rushed for 359 yards and 6 touchdowns on fourteen carries
against Golden Valley his senior year. His coach took him out midway through the second quarter.John Tyndall
(Fullback - Pacific Grove HS)
Reported offers: Army, BYU, Utah, SJSU
- Will likely grey shirt and count against the '08 class.
- Monterey Athletic League Defensive POY at linebacker; Monterey County Offensive POY; Small Schools All-State team.
- High school team won three consecutive league titles.
- Shares same name as 19th century Irish physicist
who is thought to be the first to link CO2 with global warming.
Two surprises off the bat - Chris Conte and Ernest Owusu both signed LOIs with Cal. Conte, a corner/safety, was an early Cal commit who switched allegiances to the Bruins last month. Owusu, a defensive end, was thought to be a lean to North Carolina as late as last night. Well, the faxes don't lie - welcome to both! We'll have profiles of each as part of their position classes later today.
LOI DAY IS HERE
Now that we've slagged on recruiting as the least precise science
in sports, it's time to drop our facade and become hysterical about California's Class of 2007. Sometime today a couple dozen young men will use this archaic device...
...to communicate their commitment to play football at our beloved University. We'll be following the process all day to provide some background on the Class of 2007, and some gentle analysis of other schools' hauls (not in the OMG they're ranked 8th by Rivals mode, but more looking at balance, depth, and players who Cal also recruited).
FIVE YEARS LATER
Following on from our more detailed examination
of UCLA's historically disappointing class of 2002, we've taken a closer look at the '02 class for the entire conference. We can't be bothered with looking at how every recruit panned out (as we did for the Bruins), but we though it would still be interesting to compare the five most heralded recruits in each class with the five most valuable recruits over their careers. It's all subjective, of course, and it works like this (taking Arizona's truly awful 2002 class as an example):Arizona 2002
Ryan O'Hara **** (backup QB, left school in 2004)
Javier Martinez **** (arrested, left school in 2002)
Matt Lamatsch **** (backup, left program)
Carl Tuitavuki **** (ordinary starter at DT)
Michael Jefferson **** (transferred to NAU)
These were the five hottest recruits signed to an LOI by John Mackovic in February of 2002. They didn't exactly pan out, which helps explain the recent state of Wildcat football. Now here's a list of the best five recruits from that class judged over their entire career in Tucson, with their original Scout.com star ranking:
Top 5 contributors
Spencer Larsen * (all-conference LB - best at UA since Lance Briggs)
Nick Folk * (probably the best punter in school history)
Marcus Smith * (Pac-10 HM DE in his soph year)
Danny Baugher * (another good punter in this class - strange)
Not a distinguished group, but far better than the dropouts in the first list. Note that four of the five best players got exactly one star from Scout. So let's move on through the rest of the classes of 2002 and 2003:
Arizona State 2002
Aaron Austin ***** (never panned out at TE, moved to defense)
Terry Richardson **** (great kick returner, OK receiver)
Tim Faaita **** (two-year starter at OG)
Robert James **** (pretty good linebacker)
Ishmael Thrower **** (starter along the D-line)
Top 5 contributors
Derek Hagan * (one of the top receivers in school history)
Andrew Carnahan *** (all-conference OL)
Jamar Williams * (HM All Pac 10 at LB)
Monte Parson **** (started as a senior, all-academic pick)
Kevin Johnson **** (left school)
Marcus O'Keith *** (reserve back and kick returner)
David Gray *** (never delivered on promise)
Randy Bundy ** (switched to defense, dime back)
Top 5 contributors
Donnie McCleskey * (all-conference as a junior)
Erik Robertson * (2-year starter at guard)
Tim Mixon * (starter at DB)
Eric Beegun * (backup TE)
Haloti Ngata ***** (greatest DL in school history)
Chris Solomona ***** (good player, starter)
Kellen Taylor ***** (backup receiver)
Albert Toeaina **** (went to JC, eventually transferred to Tennessee)
Marques Binns **** (transferred to Grambling)
Top 5 contributors
Enoka Lucas * (all-conference center)
Aaron Gipson * (all-conference DB)
Anthony Trucks * (two time 2nd team LB)
JD Nelson * (2nd team DB in 05)
Oregon State 2002
Brandon Lockheart ***** (dismissed from the team in 2002)
Lawrence Turner **** (starter, good player)
Deondre Alexander **** (left school for Palomar juco)
Joe Newton **** (oft-injured starter, good player)
JC Ronnfeldt *** (reserve, left the program in 2005 under a cloud)
Top 5 contributors
Adam Koets * (2nd team all-conference OL)
Brandon Browner ** (2nd team all-conference DB)
Ben Siegert * (HM tight end)
Stanford 2002UCLA 2002
Trent Edwards ***** (oft-injured QB never allowed to do much)
Julian Jenkins ***** (honorable mention all-conference; hardly a 5 star)
Matt Traverso **** (OK contributor at TE)
Josiah Vinson *** (mediocre starter on OL)
Marcus McCutcheon *** (bounced around, never started)
Top 5 contributors
TJ Rushing * (starting corner, all-conference return man)
Trevor Hooper ** (honorable mention All-Pac 10 DB)
Jeff Edwards *** (started 40+ games for Stanford on the OL)
Marcedes Lewis ***** (Terrific tight end)
Ryan Boschetti ***** (OK DL starter)
Jarrad Page **** (excellent safety now in the NFL)
Eric McNeal **** (career backup)
CJ Niusulu **** (kicked off the team)
Top 5 contributors
Drew Olson **** (very good QB)
Justin Medlock **** (all-conference kicker)
Justin London **** (very good LB)
Manuel Wright ***** (better prospect than player)
Winston Justice ***** (had great senior year)
Darnell Bing ***** (terrific DB)
Dominique Byrd **** (excellent college TE)
Hershel Dennis **** (started as a sophomore, then perpetually injured)
Top 5 contributors
Mike Williams *** (All-America WR)
Dallas Sartz **** (all-conference LB)
Donny Mateaki ***** (starter, not particularly good)
Stanley Daniels **** (rather ordinary starter after switch to OL)
Kenny James **** (starter, decent player)
Brandon Ala **** (injured, reserve for most of his time at UW)
Nathan Rhodes **** (never played due to a congenital back problem)Top 5 contributors
Scott White *** (defensive team MVP)
Clay Walker *** (honorable mention OL)
Isaiah Stanback *** (dangerous QB)
Dashon Goldson *** (HM in '05 at DB)
Washington State 2002
Jermaine Green ***** (JC transfer became a solid back for the Cougs)
Sammy Moore ***** (solid starter at receiver)
Jonathan Smith ***** (solid player in the backfield)
Kevin Sperry ***** (another juco starter)
Carl Bonnell ***** (DNP, eventually signed with UW)
Top 5 contributors
MKristo Bruce zero stars (All-America)
Eric Frampton ** (all-conference DB)
Nick Millhauser * (2nd team all-conference OL)
Scott Davis * (honorable mention LB)
The moral of the story? The guys at the top of your board are important; if most of them are busts for a couple of years (Arizona's 03 class was just as bad) you're probably going to be in trouble. Secondly, you need to pay attention to the entire class. In eight out of ten of these cases, the most valuable recruit wasn't among the five most decorated prospects. It's amazing in retrospect that guys like MKristo Bruce, Mike Williams, Enoka Lucas, Spencer Larsen, Donnie McCleskey and Derek Hagan were relative afterthoughts in their respective recruiting classes.
A CAUTIONARY TALE - UCLA'S CLASS OF '02
On LOI Day 2002 Bob Toledo was ecstatic. He had just inked the 7th best recruiting class in America according to Scout.com, and the talented youngsters were just what he needed to keep unhappy alums at bay. He had done so well that a frustrated Washington coach Rick Neuheisel publicly accused him of negative recruiting. UCLA's class that year averaged 3.62 stars per player - a high number given the large size (25 players) of the Bruins' class.
Five years later the UCLA class of '02 serves as a cautionary tale to those who would put too much emphasis on recruiting rankings. The class is littered with injuries, defections, discipline problems, and missed potential. Just for fun, we went back and assigned new ratings to the class based on their contributions to the Bruin program during their stay in Westwood. It's highly subjective, of course, but isn't everything related to this topic?Ratings key
* Didn't play, or played sparingly
** Contributed in a reserve capacity
**** All-Conference level performer
***** All-America level performer
***** (from Scout.com in '02)
Marcedes Lewis, TE - Terrific tight end ***** (career rating)
Ryan Boschetti JC - a starter and an OK player for UCLA on the defensive line ***
Jarrad Page, CB - excellent safety now in the NFL ****
Eric McNeal, S - career backup **
CJ Niusulu, DT - kicked off the team *
Kevin Harbour, DE - left school - **
Robert Chai, OL - solid if unspectacular starter on the OL - ***
Joe Garcia, CB - transferred to Nevada - *
Idris Moss, CB - kicked off the team; transferred to Tulsa - *
Justin London, LB - solid starter at LB - ***
Antwuan Smith, WR - didn't enroll - *
Mike Nixon, S - played baseball for a while then went to ASU *
Glenn Ohaeri, RB - transferred to Colorado State *
Justin Medlock, K - terrific kicker ****
Drew Olson, QB - pretty darn good ****
Matt Moore, QB - started five games; transferred to OSU **
JJ Hair, TE - backup tight end **
Xavier Burgess, LB - dropped out of school, transferred to Sac State *
Kirby Joseph, LB - transferred to McNeese State *
Jebiaus Brown, CB - quit the team *
JD Groves, LB - quit the team *
Thomas Patton, DE - transferred *
Wesley Walker, LB - good player ***
Patrick Pierre-Louis, LB - didn't do much *
Alex Potasi, OL - kicked off the team *
Elliot Vallejo, OL - transferred to Davis *
On the revised rankings, UCLA earns a grand total of 1.94 stars per recruit, placing them at the bottom of the conference. UCLA's is an extreme case, but a look at the rest of the conference in 2002 and 2003 shows that the experts had as many misses as hits when it came to evaluating recruits. We'll roll that analysis out a bit later in the day.
CLEANING OUT THE DESK (AND ORDERING A HAM SANDWICH)
* Surprise, surprise. No takers on our open invitation to a debate
on the stadium project. Lots of anonymous alleged tree huggers in the comment section, though, which we've now positively ID'd as 15-year old USC fans. The offer still stands.
* Deadspin's headline says it all: "Todd Bozeman is Disappointed in Your Selection of Deli Meat
." Someone pull Anwar McQueen out of there, stat.
* Bruins Nation isn't satisfied with being named Pac-10 Blog of the Year
, or taking the conference lead in hoops; no, they've got rub our nose in it with breathless updates on commit Kevin Love
. Well, we'd be pretty excited too.
* SC is already calling out the Bruins
for Thursday night's battle in Pauley. Our favorite quote from Paragon at Conquest Chronicles:
"I am unconcerned at what they think across town. Most of the "tradition" is from days gone by and a loss in last years title game is just that, a loss. This team can play no doubt but they can be beat and I am unimpressed about a bunch of banners that have been collecting dust in an old unrefurbished building from another era, that was then, this is now."
It's funny, that's exactly what we used to say about USC football...
* Husky fans have taken off the gloves
after a thirty-point blowout loss at McKale. The term "must win" is a horrible cliche and often misused. That said, Cal is a must win for Washington.
* LOI day is fast approaching and we'll have profiles of Cal's class by position on Wednesday. There's really only one guy left on Cal's board - Juco DE Alex Cook - and he's supposed to announce between Cal, ASU and Arkansas tomorrow. No Gary Doxy surprises in this class, it seems.
THE SWEET SIXTEEN - #10 - ED GRAY
#10 - ED GRAY - GUARD (1996-1997)
A transfer from Tennessee, Gray played only two years in Berkeley, but they were among the most memorable in school history. When he signed with Cal it merited one sentence in the San Francisco Chronicle: "College of Southern Idaho basketball player Ed Gray, a former player at the University of Tennessee, has signed a letter of intent to attend UC-Berkeley for the 1995-96 season." Gray was a JC All-America and a great recruit, but couldn't help but look small next to classmate Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
Gray got off to a hot start, averaging 16 points through the first two months of the season, before Todd Bozeman benched him for missing classes. He eventually applied himself well enough in the classroom to stay in Bozeman's good graces and contribute huge performances on the court (22 in an upset of #9 Arizona, 27 against ASU). Gray was occasionally erratic, falling into slumps that led to subpar performances (2 points against USC), but when he was on no one in the Pac-10 could guard him. He ended the year with 15.6 ppg, and was named Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. The Bears limped to the finish line and were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Iowa State.
After Abdur-Rahim left for the pros, Gray became new coach Ben Braun's first and last option on offense in 1997. He got right to work, scoring 20 points in an upset of Iowa in Braun's first game at the Maui Invitational. He then added 32 in a loss to #2 Kansas, and 24 in an upset of #17 UMass that gained Cal a surprising 3rd place finish in Maui. Then came 30 points in an overtime win over Illinois, 26 against Penn State, and suddenly nobody was talking about Shareef. Gray continued his torrid shooting throughout the conference season, leading the Bears to a 2nd place finish in the Pac-10. It was Gray's shot (giving him 29 points) that put the nail in UCLA's coffin at Pauley in January of '97, giving the Bears hope that they might win the crown; but losses down the stretch to WSU and Stanford kept the Bears from the title.
His greatest game as a Golden Bear was unfortunately his last. In that loss to WSU at Friel Court, Gray was unstoppable, scoring 48 points on a combination of long-range jumpers and drives to the basket. With 1:14 left he soared above the Cougar defense and was fouled in a dunk attempt; after hanging on the rim for a second or two he fell to the floor and fractured a bone in his right foot. Without their top scorer, Cal still somehow made a memorable run to the Sweet 16; one wonders how far they might have gone if Gray had been pouring in his usual 24 points per game.
Even with the sour ending, Gray's senior season was perhaps the greatest individual performance in school history. He averaged 24.8 ppg, and left Berkeley with the records for the highest career scoring average (20.0 ppg) and the most 30-point games (six). Gray was named Pac-10 Player of the Year and a third-team All-American by the Associated Press. He was drafted 22nd overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 1997, and his two-year career in Atlanta was marked by injury, inconsistent play, and off-court troubles. He played for a bit in the CBA, and then in London, and then we lost track of him. As the Cyberbears' handle asks, "Whatever happened to Ed Gray?"
Tarik Glenn ('97) hoists the Lombardi Trophy (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
Matt Giordano ('05) ends the Bears' final drive (AP/Michael Conroy)
Our congratulations to two great Golden Bears for winning their first Super Bowl championship. Tarik and his linemates had a terrific game, and the G-Man got a nice lick in towards the end of the game. Condolences to Ron Rivera ('84), but he's already got a ring and should soon become the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. So he's doing OK.
Gearing up for a busy week - LOI Day and the Washington roadie. Stay tuned....
We've always figured ourselves to be smack dab in the middle of the never-ending Ben Braun debate. We haven't written him off as many Bear fans have done; on the other hand, we're unsatisfied with the results of his tenure at Berkeley - 11 years with no conference championships and a single Sweet 16 berth is not acceptable.
We think we've been fair to him this year, crediting his ability to improve the Bears' offense with eight-nine healthy scholarship players and maintain the team's focus through a very rough period. For the most part, this team has played hard and smart.
But last night's effort raises a troubling question that can't simply be answered by a glance at the injury list. How could the Bears come out that flat in a home game with their hated cross-Bay rival? Stanford got off to a 20-4 lead, and the game was essentially over after eight minutes. We know that Cal made a spirited comeback, but the abysmal start reflects poorly on Braun's ability to motivate his charges for what should have been the Game of the Year.
Are we being too harsh on Coach Braun? We don't think so, but we'd invite opposing viewpoints.
In other action...
* That grease stain on the floor of Pauley Pavilion? That's the once proud Oregon State Beavers, who lost by forty-seven points to UCLA. OSU scored 35 points in the entire game. Building the Dam
has all the gory details of an historic butt-kicking. It's UCLA's conference to lose at this point, as we expected.
* ASU deserves lots of credit for their defensive effort against Washington State
, holding the Cougs to 12 points in the second half and almost pulling the upset.
* Ernie Kent had his first Lost Weekend
- how will the Ducks respond next week against the Arizonas at home?
* We don't buy that Arizona is back because they crushed UW at home by thirty
. We are intrigued by the emergence of Jordan Hill, who went for 16 points, eight boards and five big blocks. Three of their next four are at Oregon and home dates with the LA schools. If they can go 3-1 through this stretch, we'll say they're back.