Monday, February 12, 2007


SoCal Oski made a point on one of the comment boards that got me thinking about where Cal sits among the "traditional powers" of college football recruiting.

Cal has consciously focused its recruiting on two main areas: Greater Los Angeles, and the Bay Area. This year's class is heavily weighted toward Los Angeles, but the Bears also picked up nine out-of-state commitments (10 if you include New York-born Nyan Boateng). Does this indicate a shift in Cal's recruiting philosophy? If so, is this a good idea? Will the Bears increasingly lock horns with Big 12 and SEC schools for talent?

The shift, if you can call it that, occurred in 2005, when Cal became more aggressive in recruiting outside California. That year the Bears recruited 14 such players, up from 1 in 2003 and 6 in 2004. ('Recruited' is defined as pursuing a player enough to have a listed scholarship offer - even if some of those reported offers were ultimately rescinded). Unsurprisingly, 2005 was the year after Cal's breakout 10-2 season that saw them in the Top 10 for most of the season; recruits who received letters and phone calls from Cal coaches presumably were more responsive after seeing the Bears on TV and reading the glowing press about Tedford.

In 2006 Cal recruited 16 guys outside of California, and this year the number hit 29. Time will tell, but I don't believe he jump in 2007 is due to any further change in philosophy. If anything, it's the byproduct of a relatively poor year for in-state talent, and Cal's need to recruit a relatively large class.

These out-of-state numbers include kids from traditional Pac-10 recruiting markets (which we'll define as Colorado and everything west of there). After years of being an afterthought in these states, Cal is now usually a player with top-rated recruits from these markets, and we land our fair share (Guarnero, Riley, Felder, Jones, Pimentel, Jordan, several Hawaiians). It has helped that a number of the local programs have been in some disarray (UW, Colorado) during this time.

Another change is that Cal is now pursuing more kids outside the Pac-10's 'home turf.' This year Cal recruited 13 kids from east of the Rockies, more than the total number of such players Tedford had recruited in his previous five seasons. JT lobbed offers to kids in Missouri, Georgia, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Arkansas and Virginia; and Tedford has already offered receiver Devier Posey (LaSalle HS, Cincinnati) for next year's class.

How much of this is Dunbar's influence is hard to guess. Northwestern recruits nationally - sort of like Stanford on a smaller scale - so perhaps his departure will bring the numbers back down. I don't think so, however. Tedford has built a program that is nationally recognized for offensive production, and I suspect that fact gets him in the door with lots of kids.

So the question remains - if a shift has indeed happened, is it a good thing? The cautionary tale with respect to national recruiting is our old friend Bruce Snyder. After the Sun Devils came within a whisker of the MNC in 1996, Snyder decided that ASU was a national program and shifted his recruiting focus to Texas, the Midwest, the Deep South - basically everywhere but Arizona. You saw the results, and ASU football has never been the same since.

JT won't do that. From the start, he has dedicated himself to repairing relationships with Bay Area programs that had frayed under previous leadership. He has also established Cal in Los Angeles and Long Beach by bringing in decorated recruits like DeSean, Mebane, Hagan and others. So I think the national recruiting that Cal does, limited as it is, will be a net positive for the program.

So which states outside the Pac-10 (CA, WA, OR, AZ) look to be important in the Class of 2008?

Hawai'i. Ken Delgado has now recruited five players (not including UH transfer Ma'afala) from the Aloha State to Berkeley in the past three years (he recruited Eselu, although he's a tight end). This is, on the whole, a very worthwhile investment of the program's dollars. Hawai'i produces more D-1A prospects per capita than most states, particularly along the offensive and defensive line. On the downside, you sometimes have to deal with severe bouts of homesickness - Berkeley ain't Oahu - but having a base of islander players can mitigate that somewhat.

Texas. New LB coach Kenwick Thompson was instrumental in convincing Alex Cook to turn down Arkansas and come to Cal. Thompson is a native of Houston and coached for years at Texas Southern. That's not exactly UT or A&M, but it does mean he brings new relationships with Texas HS coaches to the Cal program.

Utah. A pretty good football state, but Cal hasn't had much success here. Nu'u Tafisi grew up in SLC, but Cal recruited him out of Mt. San Antonio JC. In 2005 Cal missed on OT Matt Reynolds (BYU); in 2006 RB Stanley Havili went to USC. The reason I list Utah is that Cal could be in the mix for at least two kids from the Beehive State in 2008. RB Sausan Shakerin lists the Bears with BYU, Colorado, Florida, Oregon and Utah - he's a big (6'3") back who has said he wants to go out of state to play CFB. CB Cameron Comer (Springville HS) has already visited Cal, which suggests the Bears are interested in his services.

But still there are bread-and-butter California programs that should continue to be important for the Golden Bears in years to come. Here's a list of ten such programs:

Dorsey (Los Angeles) - A traditionally strong program, the Bears will have two Dorsey alums on next year's roster (Robert Mullins and Keith Browner).

Long Beach Poly - Duh. The Jackrabbits send loads of kids to D-1A programs; this year Cal went 0-2 on LBP players (Warren and Rowe) but it's clear that JT has reasonably good links there.

Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) - The alma mater of Sam DeMartinis, ND sends lots of kids to D-1A program though few have chosen Cal in recent years. Next year's class includes highly touted QB Dayne Crist and LB Anthony McDonald.

Crenshaw (Compton) - Crenshaw has become a go-to school for Cal - in addition to being Daymeion Hughes' alma mater, the Bears picked up Darian Hagan and RJ Garrett from 'Shaw in 2006. They're always loaded - next year's star is WR Kemonte Bateman, who will be recruited nationally.

Edison (Fresno) - Under DB coach JD Williams, Edison was a major pipeline for secondary talent (Amadi, Hicks, Peele). Williams is now in Seattle, but Cal needs to maintain close ties with one of the premier programs in the Central Valley.

Berkeley - The arrival of McClymonds coach and friend of the program Alonzo Carter makes Berkeley a potentially important school down the road.

McClymonds (Oakland) - Who knows what will become of the program after Carter's departure, but this has historically been the most important HS program in the Bay Area for Cal (Kyle Reed, Derrick Hill, etc).

Monte Vista (Danville) - Never hurts to be the alma mater of la famiglia Tedford. MVHS is usually good for one or two D-1A prospects per year. Next year it's QB Drew McAllister.

Grant Union (Sacramento) - Strong program that sent Worrell Williams to Cal; next year they have RB Marselius Williams coming out.

Butte JC (Oroville) - Can't argue with a Juco that has produced Aaron Rodgers, Garrett Cross, and now Skylar Curran. All three were under-recruited, and all three were pretty quick Cal commits. FYI, Cal's first commit for 2008 should be OT Tyler Rigsbee (Pleasant Valley HS - Chico), whose father happens to be the AD at Butte.


At 3:44 PM, Blogger Eli said...

I think taking a broader national approach to recruiting will ultimately prove to be a good thing. I don't think the coaching staff is concerned with the talent level enough to let solid in-state connections dwindle at the expense of utilizing more resources in other parts of the country. But if you have the ability to establish a strong reputation in a state like Hawaii (lots of talented players but not by no means thought of as a powerhouse area), then by all means. To this point, Tedford knows who got him here--basically all Californians--but next year you'll have guys like Forsett and Felder in key roles. Alex Cook said that Kenwick Thompson was instrumental in his decision to attend Cal, but he also said he clicked well with Forsett. As long as wins and bowl games keep coming, I have no problem with the program broadening its horizons and chipping away at the talent pools of other schools. They don't have to attack the big boys right away since there's usually enough to go around in California, but increasing the pipeline is a good thing.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Valley Christian
Oak Grove
All in the South Bay have produced a significant amount of talent and have invested $$$ in their athletic programs.

...of course don't forget De La Salle up in Concord.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Pete Morris said...

More geographical nitpicking: Crenshaw High is in L.A., not Compton (and it really isn't even that close to Compton.) But this small miscue aside, continued excellent stuff, Tightwad. And let me add to "anonymous" by suggesting still more SoCal schools to target: Mission Viejo, plus the pair of Santa Clarita giants Hart (Kapp and Boller) and Canyon (Longshore -- and his little brother too?).

And what about San Diego? Any chance the Bears can dip into that legendary grooming ground for running backs (Allen, Williams, Bush)?

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Tightwad said...

Pete, you're officially our ombudsman for all matters geographical. We rush, we err, we gnash our teeth and resolve not to do it again. Seriously, this time.

These other HS programs are all important and would definitely make a longer list - I chose the ten based on the current roster and prospects for the class of '08. Actually, I'm not sure DLS would make a longer list, since their record of turning out major D-1A talent is a little spotty. Even the can't miss guy - Derek Landri - wasn't as good as advertised. Great HS program that hasn't translated to the next level - that said, they'll have a really good prospect now and then.

As for San Diego, it's a mystery why the Bears haven't done better down here. The CFB talent here is perhaps a step behind the Bay Area (and way behind LA City), and this was kind of a down year. I guess Delgado has the best SD ties, but they haven't really paid off. Jamaar Jarrett is the highest rated prospect thus far in the area - a big DE who doesn't yet have Cal listed as a favorite.

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Cathy said...

As a NJ native I still read the local papers, and tend to see, increasingly, student athletes aspire to play for Cal. Cal has always been regarded as an academic powerhouse, and decent students will have heard of it and be interested in going there. Now that it means they might be able to also be part of a good football program the top student athletes are much more willing to put Cal on their list, even up at the top.

So I don't think JT needs to necessarily put lots of energy and effort into recruiting heavily out of state - he just needs to be willing to take a look if he hears of interested talent.

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous SoCal Oski said...

Wow - I was (at least partially) the inspiration for a TH post.

I guess my feeling is pretty much the same that you had as your subtext: Cal's encroachment into the National recruiting scene is welcome, but should by no means come at the expense of their recently established prominence here in California.

I have no doubt that JT (for as long as he stays) will continue his incredible job in recruiting quality kids. And that quality kids will view Cal as a very viable and desirable option, right along the traditional schools.

Go Bears

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous college sports recruiting services said...

A spark thought, examined some of the things that may be the time, location, sports facilities and more importantly, the completion rate of student athletes.Their research may also go College Fairs, and virtual tours, talking to other students .

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous site said...

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