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.

30

Football: Bears to sign a second QB prospect

After getting commitments from four defensive players the previous three days, Cal pulled a minor surprise by landing its second quarterback prospect, the Los Angeles Times first reported.

Chase Forrest, who led Mater Dei-Santa Ana to an 11-3 record and into the championship game of the Pac-5 Division, committed to the Bears after Cal made an in-home visit Tuesday night.

Forrest is the 20th player to commit to the Bears, including five who signed at mid-year, and the second quarterback. Also expected to make his commitment official on signing day next Wednesday is Luke Rubenzer of Saguaro High in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Forrest, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, threw three touchdown passes in Mater Dei’s 30-0 win over Long Beach Poly in the Pac-5 semifinals. Rated a two-star prospect by Scout.com and Rivals.com, he is regarded as a passer/runner, as is Rubenzer.

“With his running ability and their offense and his live arm, they got a good quarterback,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson told the Los Angeles Times.

According to MaxPreps, Forrest passed for 2,001 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Rubenzer, a three-star prospect, passed for more than 4,200 yards with 61 TDs this season, and also ran for more than 1,000 yards.

6

Football: At last, some big recruiting news

Cal’s beleaguered football recruiting class got a boost Tuesday with a commitment from middle linebacker Chandler Leniu, a consensus four-star prospect from St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, according to multiple recruiting websites.

A 6-foot-1, 225-pounder who originally planned to attend Washington State, Leniu visited Cal over the weekend and committed to the Bears on Saturday, he told Scout.com.

He is one of Cal’s top-rated recruits, ranked 11th nationally at his position by Rivals.com, 12th by Scout. Leniu becomes the third Rivals four-star player to commit to Cal, just the second according to Scout’s ratings.

Cal has moved up about 10 spots to No. 42 in Scout’s national team rankings, No. 44 according to Rivals.

Leniu becomes the Bears’ 19th commit, including five players who signed a midyear.

Commitments cannot become binding until the Feb. 5 national signing day.

30

Football: LB prospects picks Bears over UW

A good night for Cal football recruiting.

Linebacker Aisea Tongilava of Orange-Lutheran High announced via Twitter on Monday night that he has picked Cal over Washington.

A 6-foot, 210-pounder, who originally committed to San Jose State, Tongilava is rated as a three-star prospect by both Scout.com and Rivals.com.

With barely a week left before national signing day, Cal also picked up commitment Sunday night from one-time Northwestern pledge Noah Westerfield, an outside linebacker/defensive end from Wakefield High in Frisco, Texas.

Scout rates the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder as a three-star prospect while Rivals gives him two stars.

The Bears lost Saf/OLB Koa Farmer to Penn State last weekend, but now have landed three defensive players since Art Kaufman came on board as defensive coordinator.

7

Football: Bears get commit from Petaluma OLB

Cal got a commitment Sunday from John Porchivina, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound outside linebacker from Casa Grande HS in Petaluma, according to both Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Porchivina, rated by both recruiting websites as a two-star prospect, originally committed last month to Fresno State but flipped to Cal.

Porchivina may turn out to be a splendid player, but the math is bad. On Saturday, the Bears lost OLB/safety Koa Farmer — a 3- or 4-star prospect — to Penn State. A day later, they replace him with a consensus 2-star player.

19

Football: Koa Farmer flips to Penn State

Safety/OLB Koa Farmer has decommitted from Cal and will sign with Penn State, he announced via his Instagram account. Rivals.com also reported that Farmer has flipped.

Farmer, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, is rated as a 3-star prospect by Scout.com and a 4-star by Rivals.com.

In either case, he was one of coach Sonny Dykes’ top oral commits and his change of heart would be a huge loss for the Bears.

Commitments cannot become binding until Feb. 5, national signing day.

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Football: Bears land two junior college prospects

Cal nabbed two JC commitments on Sunday, led by three-star cornerback Darius White, according to Scout.com.

White, a 6-foot, 170-pounder from Itawamba JC in Mississippi, is rated the No. 14 JC cornerback prospect in the country by Scout. He had six interceptions this season.

Scout also reported that the Bears also got a commitment from Dominic Granado, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive tackle from Golden West JC.

Granado, who attended Edison HS in Huntington Beach, is rated as a two-star prospect by Scout.com.

32

Football: No surprise — Mixon is out

C’mon, are you really surprised?

Five-star running back Joe Mixon crossed the hometown school off his list of final three schools today.

The Freedom HS-Oakley standout tweeted that the choice will be among Wisconsin, Oklahoma and UCLA. Cal is out.

 On Dec. 3, Mixon announced that Cal was one of his top four teams, but that’s as far as it went.

I talked with Mixon little more than a week ago and he said that Cal’s 1-11 record would not be a deterrent. That’s a little hard to believe, especially considering that recruiting experts say Cal appeared to be the leader three months ago.

Mixon rushed for 1,704 yards and 28 touchdowns in 11 games his senior year, including 470 yards and nine touchdowns in two North Coast Section playoff games. He produced 4,281 rushing yards and 76 touchdowns during his three-year varsity career.

Mixon intends to make his announcement on Jan. 4 at the Army All-American Game in San Antonio.

My guess: UCLA. It’s not home, but it’s close. And it’s not 12 degrees in Westwood in January.

 

26

Football: Dykes on the Bears’ newcomers

Sonny Dykes called it “a good day.”

The Bears signed four JC players and an early high school graduate on Wednesday.

Here’s more from Dykes on Cal’s signees:

SAM ATOE: S/OLB, 5-11, 205, College of San Mateo
“Sam was one of the best football players I have seen in this recruiting cycle. He does it all on special teams and can play a bunch of different positions on defense. He’s an incredibly versatile athlete and very dynamic football player who runs, hits, plays in space and tackles. He has a tremendous work ethic and attitude, and he plays with great passion. He’s going to bring a lot of leadership to our program.”

DAVID DAVIS: DT, 6-2, 295, Long Beach City College
“David is (a) defensive tackle that plays with great pad level and great effort and is very productive. He is also a hard worker with a great mind that comes from a tremendous football family. He knows what it takes to be great.”

DEVANTE DOWNS: ATH, 6-2, 225, Fr., Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) HS
“Devante is an exceptional athlete who is big and athletic and can play a variety of positions. He’s gone back and forth about where he want to play. We’re going to let him play where he wants to. He’s got great size and explosiveness and is powerful. We’re really excited for him to get in here and start contributing to our program. He’s physically advanced for a kid coming out of high school and that will give him an opportunity to play early and help us win football games. He’s a complete total fit at Cal both academically and athletically.”

JONATHAN JOHNSON: DE/OLB, 6-4, 260, Pierce College
“We needed to sign a difference maker as a pass rusher and when we put the video on we thought that Jonathan was the best one we saw. He’s a great speed rusher who plays with tremendous effort. He has a passion for the game that is contagious. I love the way he plays the game. He has a huge upside and I think he will be a significant contributor to our program from the day he sets foot on campus. Jonathan Johnson is exactly what we needed as the defensive end spot.”

TREVOR KELLY: DT, 6-3, 305, College of San Mateo
“Trevor is a powerful and explosive athlete who is very productive at the defensive tackle position. He plays with great pad level, uses his hands well and has tremendous strength in the weight room. Trevor Kelly is a load inside, he’s a man.”