8

Football: Cal’s recruiting class taking shape, but a few key questions remain unanswered

Signing day is two days away and Cal’s recruiting class is pretty much set.

The Bears have commitments from 20 players (including five who signed at mid-year) and, despite taking some substantial hits along the way, they have climbed to No. 43 nationally, according to both Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Rivals ranks Cal’s class as the seventh-best in the Pac-12 and Scout has the Bears at No. 8 in the conference.

Not great, especially by the program’s standards over most of the past decade, but a sizable improvement from a month ago.

The coaching staff has secured seven commitments since Art Kaufman was hired as defensive coordinator two weeks ago, and has made strides to address some of the team’s biggest needs, including defensive line and linebacker.

Between now and Wednesday, there are three main questions to be answered:

— Can the Bears hold onto Centennial-Corona running back Tre Watson? Washington is making a late push for the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder, who rushed for more than 3,400 yards and scored 48 touchdowns last fall.

Update: Both Brandon Huffman of Scout.com and Adam Gorney of Rivals.com told me this afternoon they expect Watson to stay with Cal.

— Will the Bears land four-star defensive end Nifae Lealao of Capital Christian in Sacramento. The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder, who is rated as the top DE in the West by Scout and originally committed to Stanford, visited Vanderbilt last weekend.

Update: The consensus between Huffman and Gorney is that Lealao will wind up at Vandy, although he hasn’t announced yet.

— Can Cal sneak in and grab four-star defensive tackle Marcus Griffin? Originally committed to Washington State, the Bellevue, Wash., prospect visited Cal, Arizona and Mississippi State the past three weekends. Griffin recently suggested he will wait until signing day to announce his plans.

Update: Huffman believes Griffin will sign with Arizona while Gorney suggests that Griffin’s friendship with Cal mid-year signee Devante Downs of Washington could give the Bears an edge.

Stay tuned.

Jeff Faraudo