By Jonathan Okanes
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008 at 9:56 pm in off-season stuff.
It’s been an interesting few days around the Cal football office, to say the least. Most notably, of course, is the saga surrounding Kevin Hart, a high school football player from Fernley, Nevada who claimed he was going to Cal on a football scholarship. I’m sure most of you know the story by now. If you haven’t heard the latest, Hart finally admitted that he made up the whole thing. Here is the link to an updated story about the situation”
Because of NCAA rules, Cal isn’t allowed to say much about this situation. But I can tell you that coach Jeff Tedford wasn’t exactly thrilled about it. It was unwanted negative attention about his program, right on the eve of signing day. He did have the following to say during his signing day press conference Wednesday:
“We didn’t recruit him. There is really not much more to say. It was total news to me. It’s unfortunate that whole situation is what it is. I don’t even know the whole story. But we never had anything to do with it. I never talked to the kid one time.
“It just seems like this thing is getting so big and egos are getting so involved that people want to have an identity or whatever. To get to that magnitude that I read about is really kind of unfortunate.”
Now on to signing day: One of the bigger bits of news involved somebody who has already signed with the Bears — wide receiver Nyan Boateng. Tedford said Boateng has rejoined the team and will participate in spring practice. Boateng is currently going through strength and conditioning workouts with the team. For those who aren’t familiar, Boateng is a megatalented receiver who transferred to Cal from Florida but ran into legal trouble last summer. He was suspended for the fall, although he had to sit out the season anyway because of NCAA transfer rules. If Boateng actually gets it together and can legitimately compete for playing time, he could be a huge addition to the Bears, who are in desperate need of quality receivers after the departure of DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan.
Much of the discussion Wednesday was about the wide receivers Cal has signed. There are five of them, and the Bears need as a big a pool as possible to find some productivity. Marvin Jones and Jarrett Sparks may be the best candidates to make an immediate impact, along with junior college transfer Verran Tucker.
As it always does on signing day, Cal shows a video to the press featuring clips from every player in the recruiting class. A couple of players who stood out on film included the two offensive linemen the Bears have signed — Tyler Rigsbee and Dominic Galas. Both looked dominant, and Tedford compared Galas to current center Alex Mack. Galas was rated the 6th-best center in the country by ESPN.com.
Still, offensive line is an area where Cal has great depth, and traditionally it takes a while for offensive linemen to work their way into the playing rotation. But it looks as though the future is in good shape.
The two tight ends in the class — Spencer Ladner and Anthony Miller — also were impressive. Ladner even threw a touchdown pass on a double pass play. Miller looked to be the better receiver. One of them could become the backup to Cameron Morrah next season, although the Bears have a few other tight ends returning, such as Skylar Curran and Garry Graffort.
Running back Covaughn DeBoskie looks like an explosive back. Of course, he’s joining a deep pool of running backs so it may be harder for him to get on the field immediately. But DeBoskie does have one thing going for him — he graduated from high school early and is already enrolled in classes at Cal. That means he can participate in spring practice. And he may end up getting a lot of reps because Jahvid Best is sitting out the spring with his hip injury and James Montgomery might be limited as he recovers from minor knee surgery.
Quarterback Beau Sweeney also looked good on film, displaying a good arm and excellent mobility. But that’s another position where the Bears have a lot of talent in front of him, so his time should be down the road.
Defensive tackle Kendrick Payne also is already enrolled at Cal and will be available for the spring. Tedford compared Payne to Brandon Mebane.
A few other notes: Tedford said defensive back Brandon Jones has left the program because he “needed to make a change.” Jones was one of the Bears’ better special teams players last season and some players said he was the fastest guy on the team. With Thomas DeCoud and Brandon Hampton graduating, the Bears could use some defensive backs. Tedford said incoming freshman Marc Anthony has a chance to play as a true freshman.
Also, Tedford said defensive end Phillip Mbakogu has given up any thoughts of trying to come back. Mbakogu hasn’t played since the 2005 season because of knee problems.