Football: Cal announces signing of two latest recruits Bennett, Fletcher

Cal made official on Friday the signings of defensive end Maurice Bennett and defensive back Willie Fletcher, giving the Bears a 19-member recuiting class.

Jeff Faraudo


  1. Juancho,

    What is the star ranking for these guy?. Is Fletcher are first defensive end signing? Are you still planning to prepare a list of 1) players who orally committed to Cal before Lupoi left and decided not to attend Cal, and 2) players who were leaning toward Cal and decided not to attend. Not sure how much you can read into each item, as players in normal situations have been known to change their minds, but I think this change from committing to Cal to other schools was a bit extreme. It pushed Stanford (Shittu?), UW (Shaq), Oregon (Armstead), and UCLA (McCarthy) higher up the recruiting rankings, ahead of Cal, at Cal’s expense. Cal certainly did not seem to pick up many, if any, players who had orally committed to other schools.

    BTW, I lay the blame for all of this on Sandy. She could have done something financially to keep Lupoi if she really wanted to and was at all creative. Why was UW smart enough to spend the money apparently coming soon from the new Pac 12 TV contract and not Cal? I forget the other assistant coach who left, but he was not a key guy in bringing in players.

    This incident also shows that Tedford is not only behind the times in creating a dynamic offensive scheme, but also is behind the times in showing what must be done, through social media, to recruit. Nobody refers to Tedford being an innovator any more. And the comments about Tedford referring to the social media as “the Facebook” and “the Twitter” were embarrassing. I will have to look at the quote from him again at his press conference, but I think he also used a word which is not even a word that is used in the English language. I’ll have to look it up.

    The bottom line is that, while Cal’s new recruits are above average for college football as a whole, the recruited class could have been a hell of a lot better if Cal had been smarter about handling the Lupoi situation. He, along with Tedford, was primarily responsible for getting the guys who will produce the product on the field, a vital piece for any football program, and had a great track record of doing. But we let him get away for just a few bucks when we pay at least 20 times more than that difference to our head coach.

  2. Ford and Lawler come to mind in terms of players who Cal picked up from other schools.

    As for Tedford’s offense and playcalling it is still very innovative. His skills in that regards is not the issue in the slightest. Cal handled the Tosh situation about as good as possible. #23 class and filled almost all of our needs.

    As for the money letting him get away for just a few bucks isn’t even remotely accurate. You have to view the coaching staff as a whole from a salary perspective. Cal athletics, like it or not isn’t in a position to compete financially with the top schools at this point.

  3. 1. “You have to view the coaching staff as a whole from a salary perspective.”

    Apparently, UW didn’t and, as a a result, ended up with Shaq. I predict they will do a lot better in the future in recruiting with Lupoi, too, though he may not be quite as effective at a new school.

    2. “Cal athletics, like it or not isn’t in a position to compete financially with the top schools at this point.”

    So UW is a “top school” and and Cal isn’t? Come on, what puts UW in that class ahead of Cal and how come they could pay top dollar for Lupoi and Cal could not?

  4. I’m using Scout ratings for the stuff below.

    Bennett is considered a 3 star recruit. He is our only defensive line commit this year. Which is fine I suppose given the motherload of great D line recruits we brought in the past two seasons. My worry with Bennett is that he didn’t receive a scholarship offer from another relevant program. He received offers from:

    Jackson State
    Jacksonville State
    Louisiana Tech
    Northwestern State

    I hope he turns out to be a sleeper. But there’s usually more risk than reward with a guy that has this few of offers from nationally relevant programs. He was going to walk on at Ole Miss. Seems like Tedford told our new D line coach Howard he had one free scholarship to pull a rabbit out of his hat so hopefully he does.

    Willie Fletcher did not receive a star from Scout. Cal is also the only school that offered him a scholarship.

    The thing with Fletcher though, is he’s 6’2″ and ran a 4.19 40-yard dash. So if you’re going to take a shot in the dark, might as well roll the dice with a guy like this.

    I think the odds are against both of these guys ever making an impact in the program, or receiving meaningful playing time. But if I had to pick one I’d pick Fletcher. Speed has no counter argument. Fast is fast. And hell maybe if nothing else guy can be dynamic on returns.

    Both guys are folks who received scholarships because of the guys we lost and we needed more bodies. Not anything that will make a long term impact for us. Just bodies to ensure there are enough folks for practice squad / etc.

  5. One of the great things I learned at Cal was to always anticipate counter arguments.


    1. Tyson Alualu was a 3 star recruit and he turned out just fine. (He had better scholarship offers though – Oregon State)

    2. We’ve had no-star guys have an impact in the past, Donovan Edwards.

    It can happen. I’ll root for these kids. I’ll also root for great new uniforms next year.

  6. Down below is also using Scout figures. One might ask why I use Scout versus Rivals or ESPN. Not sure. I just sort of do.

    Offense (including K / P):

    Zach Kline – Quarterback – 4 Roses
    Christian Okafor – Offensive Lineman – 3
    Matt Cochran – Offensive Lineman – 3
    Freddie Tagaloa – Offensive Lineman – 3
    Steven Moore – Offensive Lineman – 3
    Jeffrey Coprich – Athlete – 2
    Maximo Espitia – Fullback – 3
    Chris Harper – Wide Receiver
    Kenny Lawler – Wide Receiver – 4
    Cedric Dozier – Wide Receiver – 4
    Bryce Treggs – Wide Receiver – 5
    Darius Powe – Wide Receiver – 3
    Cole Leininger – K / P – 2


    Maurice Bennett – Defensive Line – 3
    Hardy Nickerson – Linebacker – 2
    Mike Barton – Linebacker – 4
    Damariay Drew – Safety – 2
    Raymond Ford – Cornerback – 3
    Willie Fletcher – Cornerback – 0

    So if we add all this up, the Scout star ratings is a total of 56 for this class. Coming from 19 commits, that means our commits have a Scout rating average of 2.95.

    The next post will reflect the speculative Tosh Lupoi delta.

  7. ^ Son of a biscuit. I forgot to type in “3” next to Chris Harper. Rest assured friends that those 3 are included in the 56 total I reference above.

    There will never be full proof that these guys were for sure coming to Cal had Tosh-gate-2012 not happened. But for purposes of this comparative analysis I will accept they would have. Just my belief.

    Arik Armstead – Defensive Line – 5 Roses
    Shaq Thompson – Safety – 5
    Aziz Shittu – Defensive Line – 4
    Jordan Payton – Wide Receiver – 4
    Zach Hoffpauir – Safety – 3
    Kenny Walker – Wide Receiver – 3
    DJ Foster – Running Back – 4
    Ellis McCarthy – Defensive Line – 5

    The 8 guys above reflect an additional 33 Rose points, as in Rose Bowl. That’s an average of 4.1 stars per recruit we lost. That’s a lot.

    Again we have no proof they all would have stayed had Tosh gate not happened. But we do have proof that they did not stay when Tosh gate did happen. Correlation does not imply causation. But either way “it is what it is” as they say. And “we are where we are”.

    Had the guys above stuck or chosen Cal the following guys, in my opinion would not have received offers:

    Maurice Bennett – 3
    Willie Fletcher – 0
    Jeffrey Coprich – 2
    Kenny Lawler – 4

    So if we run the numbers of this theoretical parallel universe our class would have looked like this.

    Offense (including K / P):

    Zach Kline – Quarterback – 4 Roses
    Christian Okafor – Offensive Lineman – 3
    Matt Cochran – Offensive Lineman – 3
    Freddie Tagaloa – Offensive Lineman – 3
    Steven Moore – Offensive Lineman – 3
    DJ Foster – Runningback – 4
    Maximo Espitia – Fullback – 3
    Chris Harper – Wide Receiver – 3
    Jordan Payton – Wide Receiver – 4
    Cedric Dozier – Wide Receiver – 4
    Bryce Treggs – Wide Receiver – 5
    Darius Powe – Wide Receiver – 3
    Kenny Walker – Wide Receiver – 3
    Cole Leininger – K / P – 2


    Arik Armstead – Defensive Line – 5
    Aziz Shittu – Defensive Line – 4
    Ellis McCarthy – Defensive Line – 5
    Hardy Nickerson – Linebacker – 2
    Mike Barton – Linebacker – 4
    Damariay Drew – Safety – 2
    Shaq Thompson – Safety – 5
    Zach Hoffpauir – Safety – 3
    Raymond Ford – Cornerback – 3

    That would have been 23 recruits. Remember originally Tedford wanted to sign 25 or so total recruits this year. And the total rating would have been 80 Scout star ratings. Our average per recruit would have been 3.48 Scout ratings.

    This is all speculative. But if nothing else there is the nerdy analysis in case anyone enjoys it. Jeff feel free to cite me in your next story. Just kidding.

  8. (80-56)/56 * 100 = -.30 , i.e., Tosh-gate-2012 devalued our recruiting class by a negative 30%. In this theoretical alternative universe.

    Who cares I suppose.

    We got Kline. And I’m of the belief he has everything in him to be an Andrew Luck type guy. Our receivers are great too.

    If Tedford makes changes now to ensure our recruiting class next year isn’t further killed by the Tosh-loss then we’ll continue to not suffer further.

    Hopefully someone can show him “The Twitter” on the “Cyberpsace”, hopefully they can find someone who “is good with computers”.

  9. Of course I typed the numbers wrong above. The correct formula is New Value – Original Value / Original Value.

    (56 – 80) / 80 * 100 = -30%

  10. GoBears I don’t care if that creep LT came back and wanted an additional dollar after accepting Tedford’s offer for a raise and promising not to negotiate with Sarsleazian. He went back on his word, accepted UW’s offer and then tried to either take recruits with him or persuade recruits not to come to Cal.

    LT lied, he was disloyal and underhanded therefore, he was bad for the program. In the long run this will be a good thing for us and a bad thing for the Dawgs.

  11. I agree TL went against his word. Doesn’t say much for him, but I’d rather keep him around, even with that, than suffer a 30% reduction in the qualify of our recruiting program. I have a selfish reason — I want to see Cal play in the Rose Bowl.

    Juancho, it would be great if you did a quick update for the players you listed who decided not to come to Cal to indicate what schools they ended up at. I know about half of them but I’d love to see the full list. Thanks.

  12. Bout to coach some baseball gobears. I accept your request for this evening.

  13. 5-7 season (not having Presbyterian on the schedule hurts you guys)

  14. It would be interesting to examine how these recruits add to depth on the roster. Kline is potentially fantastic, but we had 4 scholarship QBs already, and, except for Maynard, they were all highly regarded. Not saying anything negative whatsoever towards Kline, but the recent history is not great for QBs at Cal, and that is a top heavy position already.

    The WR pickups were huge – we only had 3 scholarships receivers prior to the incoming class.

    But where we are going to be very thin is in the DL line. That is where L’Affaire Tosh has hurt the most.

    We have 5 scholarships DTs and 5 DEs that have graduating years 20112 through 2016. No doubt that we’ll fill needs in future years, but that has been a recruiting strength in the past, and disappeared this year.

    I rad Suttree’s comment that Tedford’s playbook is “very innovative.” I almost fell out of my chair laughing? This isn’t 2002 versus Baylor and Michigan State, my friend. Tedford’s playbook, notwithstanding its size, has been arguably the most conservative and obvious in Pac-10/12 the last 7 years. Even the most psychotic of Tedford supporters lament his lack of innovation. Didn’t you watch the bowl game this year?

  15. Defensive line was obviously Tosh’s specialty. Cal has had some great players at that position in recent years, including Alualu and Jordan (both who STARTED their first year in the NFL). No doubt Tosh was the key to bringing them in. Unless TL’s replacement is a great recruiter, it’s going to tough to replicate what Tosh did to bring in great recruits for that position.

  16. Juancho, having complained about an earlier post of yours, I AM going to say a big Thank You for all the energy and information you bring here!

  17. Almost all the top recruits we lost in Toshgate were defensive. Our immediate needs are offensive. So while we could’ve touted a top X recruiting class and felt good about our egos, I think the end result (for 2012) is the same. We had a huge haul at defense in 2011 that gives us depth this year.

    Looking at average star or breaking it down to some arbitrarily defined statistic is misleading. Just take a look at where we’re currently deficient and recruiting for the past 3 years. This will give you a better picture. Don’t get caught up all the stars and recruiting drama. Putting together the right team that wins is what matters in the end.

  18. “We got Kline. And I’m of the belief he has everything in him to be an Andrew Luck type guy.”–Juancho

    Wash your mouth out Juancho. Why say that on the one day when you can say, “To be like the reigning NFL regular season and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers”?

    Only a couple more hours to enjoy that.

  19. Food for thought: If all Pac 12 teams are sharing in the new TV contract windfall, why aren’t we as flush with cash as UW is to hire and pay those assistant coaches? Isn’t it the same deal for all the teams? Shouldn’t we also have the same budget increase at our disposal? I hate to think that we are getting the same big bonus but that cash is going into the general fund, to woman’s softball or worst of all, to pay for all those unfunded pension liabilities and benefits that UC is paying all those communist former employees who retired at 50.

  20. Still planning on breaking down who are lost targets chose.

    Daniel touche. I think of Rodgers more highly than Luck. Im not sure Kline is of Rodgers potential yet.

    Longtime, thanks for the kind words. Just cause folks disagree doesnt mean we cant be civil and enjoy this stuff together.

    Pc. Two needs we lost. Running back. Safety. And i dont think ratings are purely arbitraey. Desean a five star. Rodgers a four star. Marshawn and best four stars. Marvin jones a four star. Exceptions to the rule exist. But with the pravelence of youtube and web video a no star in 2012 is much different to a no star in 2002. Every kids video is seen now.

  21. More food for thought: Rumor has it that Tosh was playing xBox online with the recruits and developed relationships that way that with screen names allowed him more direct contact and expanded communication than traditional phone calls. Big time true with Shaq. Tedford needs to get on board or get a young assistant recruiter who is a tech geek.

  22. @gobears guys who considered Cal

    Armstead oregon dl
    Shaq washington s
    Shittu stanford dl
    Hoffpauir stanford s
    Mccarthy ucla dl
    Kenny walker ucla wr
    Jordan payton ucla wr
    Ish adams ucla cb
    Darius hamilton rutgers dl
    Kyle murphy stanford ol
    Thomas johnson texas a & m wr
    Yuri wright colorado cb
    Joey oconnor ohio state ol
    Ukeme eligwe florida state lb
    Christo kourstidiz florida state te
    Daje johnson tcu wr
    Kevon seymour usc cb
    Dj foster arizona state rb
    Taylor mcnamara oklahoma te
    Brandon beaver washington cb

  23. Thanks, Juancho. Don’t know the full list of guys on your list who orally announced they were going to Cal, but I they include Shaq, McCarthy, and maybe Shittu. Maybe, when you get some time, you can fill us in on the others on your list who said they were coming to Cal, though readership to this particular blog has died off so you may be wasting your time.

    BTW, DJ Foster will never get out of his commitment to Arizona St. because their running backs coach left just after DJ signed. The formal commitment is to the school, and who recruited you to sign the commitment makes no difference. If Foster can get out of his commitment to ASU on those grounds, then everybody who is dissatisfied with their school would make similar assertions on grounds that what was promised to them did not occur. It would offer a whole can of worms that would take forever to resolve in each case and, in any case, the arguments that would be made are not legally supportable.

  24. Gobears49, oh, not so fast. There are some factors that could enter play. First, every paper in AZ talked endlessly of the pressure on the program to keep Foster (a huge in-state talent), and much was made over his decommittment when Erickson was fired. Second, it clearly appeard, that the RB coach was kept on solely to get Foster’s signature. So, if there is any evidence in the form of tweets, e-mails, notes, whatever, regarding promises that were made, Foster may have been objectively lied to, and the LOI could be voided by ASU’s misrepresentations.

    For a moment, assume such evidence exists. I would think ASU would first try to strong arm him into staying. Then, they would allow him to consider a release if he went to a non-Pac12 school. At the least, the school will try as hard as they can to save face. I’m kinda shocked there is no bigger news regarding the issue given Foster’s value. I suspect the school is managing to keep things somewhat mum.

  25. Juancho: I am sorry for being too personal. I was wrong. To explain, I think you may be placing too much emphasis on number rankings of particular recruits as a measure of future success and direction of the program. The services rank different players differently sometimes, and some entire class rankings are significantly different. The overall class rankings are also not necessarliy an accurate predictor of future success (ex. Wisconsin, Stanford, TCU, Boise). What I think is most important is appears we filled our biggest needs with this group, even though we missed out on most of the big names. These player rankings are based mostly on physical tools. What is equally important is how the player will use those tools and adjust playing at a level where the level of play is much higher. All these guys are usually the best player by far in high school. Now they are amongst equals. Only when they mix it up on the field will a player’s true worth be known. Some guys also physically peak sooner than others. Predicting future success still has alot of crap shooting in it. You seem to also seem to overly regard Zach as a savior. I remember the press here in on Olson when he was the #1 qb across the board on rankings.

  26. I agree with your points Covinared.

    I feel that the rankings aren’t an end all and fail-safe. But I do feel like they are for me a good guidance system when it comes to knowing how recruits (prospects) rate compared to their colleagues.

    You look at Boise State’s rankings and realize how good their coaching is. Stanford is a little different though. Because Luck, DeCastro, Martin, Toilolo, Skov were all 4-5 star guys.

  27. btw: I appreciate all the info you post, even though I may not agree with all your conclusions.

  28. see the rivals article today. half the patriots yesterday did not have 3 stars out of high school.

  29. Thanks Covina.

    I respect your point. I guess my counter argument would be that the Patriots and Bill Bellicheck are a 180 (or 360 to quote Jason Kidd) from Jeff Tedford.

    Tedford’s success came with 4 and 5 stars. Rodgers 4. Desean Jackson 5. Marshawn Lynch 4. Jahvid Best 4. Lavelle Hawkins 4. Desmond Bishop 4. etc.

    I see your point. And agree rankings at some point mean very little. But there is a little bit of correlation to Cal’s success and the recruiting of 4-5 star guys.

    One way I look at it is this. Of course we’ll take the guys with heart and who want to wear the blue and gold.

    But look at Michael Hutchings who may be the top linebacker in next year’s recruiting class. He’s a 5 star. He plays for De La Salle. I think we all hope he comes to Cal.

    A personal failing of mine is sometimes when I read comments that intimate “well we don’t need those high rated guys b/c we’d rather have the underdogs with heart” I overreact. And in my mind I think, so should we then not go after guys like Hutchings and just focus on underrated guys? That’s drastic but I admit that’s a failing of mine.

  30. Unless higher ranked guys are more likely to transfer than lower ranked guys (and I would not be surprised if that were true), and unless I see evidence to the contrary, I think the more higher ranked a player is out of high school the more likely they will succeed in college as a football player. Of course there are many, many exceptions to this, like there is to everything. But it’s best to play the probabilities. I haven’t checked, but I think you can add Alualu and Cameron Jordan to Juancho’s list of very highly rated guys out of high school who are now playing in the NFL (both got the starting job as first year pro’s).

    Cal has done this with its QB’s, where they now have three Elite 11 QB’s on their roster, the same as last year. That is probably more than any other team in the country. Hopefully, that is a predictor of future performance for Cal from that position.

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