Admissions: New standards to challenge Bears

To build a football contender in the Pac-12 Conference, Cal coach Sonny Dykes will need to deal with more than Oregon, Stanford and the Los Angeles schools. He also must contend with a new admission policy, implemented by the school.

Most Cal athletes going forward will be required to have a 3.0 grade-point average in high school. That’s substantially lower than the general student body at Cal, but it’s higher than any Pac-12 school except Stanford. The new standards begin to go into effect this fall, when 40 percent of the incoming athletes must have a 3.0 GPA or better. That number climbs to 60 percent next year and to 80 percent in 2017.

Can Cal thrive on the sports field — particularly in football and men’s basketball — facing those demands in the classroom in the ferocious modern landscape of intercollegiate sports?

Dykes said he is confident the Bears can win games and graduate players. “I believe that more strongly today than I did when I took the job,” said Dykes, who was hired in December 2012.

Basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, coming off his first season at Cal, is just as optimistic as Dykes that the higher academic standards won’t impact the won-lost record. “You understand it’s a tremendous institution when you take over the job. You know what you’re getting into.”

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Football: Veteran defensive coach John Lovett hired to handle cornerbacks, completing Bears’ staff

Cal coach Sonny Dykes completed his football staff Monday with the hiring of John Lovett, who has more than four decades of experience in college and the NFL. Lovett, 64, will coach the Bears’ cornerbacks.

Lovett has coached in 10 bowls games and for seven seasons in the NFL, including the 2013 and ’14 seasons working with defensive backs for the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We are thrilled to be able to add someone with John’s level of experience and expertise to our coaching staff,” Dykes said in a statement. “He is a proven coach who has had success at the highest level of football.”

Lovett’s hiring allows Cal to have five full-time coaches on its defensive staff, with Greg Burns now handling strictly safeties. Dykes will take on the assignment of coaching wide receivers.

Lovett fills the coaching spot that opened when receivers coach Pierre Ingram was fired after an April 16 arrest for suspicion of misdemeanor solicitation.

Lovett’s previous college coaching jobs include Cincinnati, Ole Miss, Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Texas Tech.

Lovett worked previously with Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman at both Texas Tech and Ole Miss and said the chance to reunite was a factor in his decision to accept Cal’s job offer.

“I’m excited to be joining a Cal program on the rise and a tremendous coaching staff led by Sonny Dykes,” Lovett said. “I’m also looking forward to working with Art Kaufman again.”

The Bears begin practice Aug. 7.


Football: Goff on Maxwell Award watch list

Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff was named to the preseason watch list for the 79th annual Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s top college football player.

Goff already holds 19 Cal school records and enters the 2015 season having passed for 7,481 yards and 53 touchdowns in his career.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced Nov. 2, with the three finalists unveiled Nov. 23.

Returning Maxwell Award semifinalists include Florida State transfer quarterback Everett Golson, who is looking to replace Jameis Winston, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, Pittsburgh running back James Conner, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook and returning Maxwell Award finalist Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

Defending national champion Ohio State has four players on the list, including running back Ezekiel Elliott and three accomplished quarterbacks, Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller.

Goff is among 13 Pac-12 players on the preseason watch list, also including Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and USC quarterback Cody Kessler.


Basketball: Roman Davis signs with Bears

Small forward Roman Davis, who gave Cal an oral commitment late last week, has signed with the Bears and will enroll in summer bridge classes, coach Cuonzo Martin announced.

“I want to welcome Roman to the family,” Martin said. “His athleticism and toughness will allow him to do a lot of things in our program. Defensively, I think he has the capability to guard all five positions. He comes from one of the finest academic high schools in California. We are excited he chose to be a Golden Bear.”

The 6-foot-7, 200-pound Davis played at the Windward School in Los Angeles, where he averaged 9.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game as a senior this past year for the Wildcats. Davis helped Windward to a 22-11 overall record.

Davis record the game-winning bucket in the final seconds in back-to-back games for the Wildcats this past January. He posted seven blocks in a game during Windward’s Division 5AA playoff run in February.

Davis was selected to the 2015 Division 5AA All-California Interscholastic Federation Boys Basketball Team, as voted by the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association.



Football: Bears add three recruits

So I take a little vacation, and Cal responds with a busy recruiting week.

The Bears got their third oral commitment of the week on Friday when Chris Yaghi, a defensive tackle from Foothill-Santa Ana, made his announcement on Twitter.

Rivals reports that Yaghi picked Cal over the likes of Oregon, Boise State and Utah, among others, in part because of the school’s strong engineer program. The 6-foot-3 1/2, 265-pounder is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout.

Earlier, Cal got commitments from cornerback Camryn Bynum of Centennial-Corona and offensive lineman Francisco Perez of Baldwin Park.

Bynum, at 5-11, 160, is rated three stars by Rivals and Scout. His other offers included Boston College, San Diego State, Boise State and Washington State.

Perez, a 6-5, 301-pounder, is projected as a guard Rivals, which gives him three stars. Scout also rates Perez as a three-star prospect. Perez had offers from four other Pac-12 schools, including Arizona State and Oregon State.

Cal’s 2016 recruiting class now numbers 16 prospects. Scout and Rivals both rank the Bears’ class at No. 28 nationally, fifth-best in the Pac-12. Cal is




Football: Bears nab another wideout

The Bears got a commitment from their third wide receiver in a week on Friday, landing three-star Matt Laris of East Catholic High in Sammamish, Washington.

Laris, a 6-foot-4, 210-pounder, also had offers from Air Force, Boise State and Wyoming, among others, according to Rivals.com, and had drawn interest from Stanford and Washington.

Scout, which also rates Laris as a three-star prospect, reports that he caught 72 passes for 1,394 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior last fall.

Cal now has 11 prospects from the Class of 2016 orally committed.


Football: Bears nab wideout from Hawaii

Cal added its third football commitment of the week, landing 6-foot-2 wide receiver Drew Kobayashi of Honolulu powerhouse St. Louis High, according to multiple recruiting websites.

Kobayashi, who also had offers from San Diego State, Washington and Washington State, is rated as a three-star prospect in the class of 2016 by Rivals and Scout.

He is the 10th player to commit to Cal, the third this week, joining cornerback Josh Drayden of Dallas and wide receiver Logan Gamble of Long Beach.


Football: Bears land WR, CB — both 3 stars

Greetings from Cleveland . . .

Cal has picked up a pair of 3-star prospects, according to both Rivals and Scout:

Josh Drayden, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound cornerback from Bishop Dunne High in Dallas comes on board after the Bears lost a pair of 4-star safeties in the past couple weeks. Drayden, who reportedly runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, also had offers from Boise State, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, among others.

Logan Gamble, a 6-5, 200-pound wide receiver/athlete from St. Anthony High in Long Beach. Gamble also had offers from Arizona, San Diego State, Virginia and Washington State.