One of the benefits of Cal finishing spring workouts sooner than any other team in the Pac-12 — way back on March 23 — was the opportunity for the coaching staff to focus early on recruiting the high school Class of 2014.
The Bears’ priorities are clear, coach Sonny Dykes said. He wants to sign five defensive backs and two running backs next February.
He identified running back as “a position where guys have a hard time staying healthy through the course of a year. Those guys get beat up. You’ve got to have a good stable of running backs.”
Cal is hot after Joe Mixon, a 6-foot, 195-pound four-star running back from Freedom HS in Oakley. But so is everyone else. Mixon has perhaps three dozen teams pursuing him, including Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, Florida and most of the Pac-12.
He’d be huge for Dykes and the Bears, but obviously he’s by no means a lock for the home team.
Still, Dykes stressed, “The most important position is defensive back. Our numbers aren’t quite where they need to be.”
Cal already has a commitment from Koa Farmer, a two-way, four-star prospect from Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks, who may be used at safety.
The Bears are chasing a long list of other top players, led by cornerback Adoree Jackson of Serra-Gardena and Juju Smith, a safety from Long Beach Poly. Both are top-10 overall prospects, according to Scout.com, and both have much of the country after them.
Among Scout’s top-300 prospects, Cal is at least on the radar of six other DBs, including Budda Baker, a four-star safety from Bellevue, Wash., who is rated No. 42 overall by Scout.
Dykes believes the Bears’ manpower numbers are adequate elsewhere, especially after they signed five offensive linemen this year.
“We’re probably going to need to sign five DBs and two running backs and build a class of other good players around them,” he said. “Those are the two areas where we’ve got to sign a good crop of players, guys we think have a chance to come in and get on the field early.”