On the day he announced the signing of four junior college defensive players and a versatile mid-year high school graduate, Cal coach Sonny Dykes predicted even bigger recruiting news.
Dykes said the coaching staff has been “incredibly well-received” by potential recruits on the heels of a 1-11 season, and he has high expectations for the Feb. 5 high school signing day.
“I would expect it to be a top-three in the league (class). I would be shocked if it’s not,” Dykes said. “I don’t think (the 2013 season) had any negative impact on recruiting at all.”
The Bears currently are nowhere close to a top-three Pac-12 class, at least according to the online recruiting sites. Scout.com rates Cal’s list of oral commitments as No. 9 in the conference, while Rivals.com ranks the Bears No. 10. Dykes said he expects to sign 13 to 15 high school players.
On Wednesday, the Bears addressed some immediate needs on defense. They got defensive end Jonathan Johnson to flip from Arizona State, giving them a pass rusher they lacked last fall.
Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder, grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., and played the past two seasons at Pierce College in Los Angeles. He is rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com.
The Bears also signed three earlier commitments: defensive tackle Trevor Kelly and safety/outside linebacker Sam Atoe from College of San Mateo and defensive tackle David Davis of Long Beach City College.
All four will enroll in classes after the semester break and be available for spring workouts, and Dykes said he expects all of them to compete for starting jobs.
Cal also signed mid-year high school graduate Devante Downs, a fullback/linebacker from Mountainlake Terrace, Wash.
A 6-foot-2, 225-pounder, Downs missed all of the 2013 season after suffering a knee injury last June and probably will participate in spring workouts on a limited basis, Dykes said.
Dykes also addressed a variety of other topics during a half-hour teleconference with reporters:
There have been no changes to the coaching staff, but Dykes would not rule out movement in the coming weeks. “That’s always fluid,” he said. “We’ll see how things play out. We’re always looking to try to get better.”
Five juniors have asked for NFL evalutions: running back Brendan Bigelow, tight end/receiver Richard Rodgers, linebacker Khairi Fortt, cornerback Kam Jackson and safety Michael Lowe. Dykes said he will discuss each situation after the reports come back. “I always want to do what’s best for the student-athlete,” he said.
Dykes said he won’t sign off on the release of any player trying to transfer to another Pac-12 school, which is fairly standard. That means quarterback Zach Kline, hoping to move to Oregon State, will have to file an appeal or face a two-year waiting period to become eligible to play.
Dykes said quarterback Jared Goff, who had surgery after disclocating his shoulder in the Big Game, is ahead of schedule in his recovery. Defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who missed all of 2013 with a hand injury, is close to being medically cleared. And defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil, sidelined all season by a knee injury, is feeling less pain after surgery last month, but probably will miss spring ball.
Wide receiver Trevor Davis, a transfer from Hawaii who worked on the scout team in the fall, was put on scholarship. A junior from Alhambra High-Martinez, Davis caught 45 passes in two seasons at Hawaii.