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.



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.”


Football: Dykes upbeat about recruiting outlook after signing five mid-year prospects

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.

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Football: Bears get another JC defensive commit

Cal apparently will announce at least four new defensive players later today on the first day of the junior college signing period.

Jonathon Johnson, a defensive end from Pierce College, has decommitted from Arizona State and will sign with the Bears, according to Scout.com.

Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound native of Pittsburgh, Pa., is rated as a three-star prospect by Scout. He will have two years of eligibility for the Bears.

Earlier, the Bears got JC commitments from DTs Trevor Kelly of College of San Mateo and David Davis of Long Beach CC, along with safety Sam Ateo of CSM.


Football: Another CSM commit to Cal

The Bears landed their second College of San Mateo commitment on the defensive side of the ball after weekend campus visits when safety Sam Atoe joined teammate Trevor Kelly, according to a report on Scout.com.

Atoe,  listed as 5-foot-11, 215 pounds, is rated as a two-star prospect by Scout. He will arrive next fall with two years of eligibility remaining, plus a redshirt year available.

A former running back at Maria Carrillo HS in Santa Rosa, Atoe also had offers from Texas Tech and TCU.


Football: Bears land 3-star JC defensive tackle

Cal got its second commitment in a week from a junior college defensive tackle when Trevor Kelly, a sophomore from College of San Mateo, chose the Golden Bears, according to Scout.com.

Kelly, a 6-foot-3, 305-pounder from El Camino High in South San Francisco, is rated as a three-star (out of five) prospect off a CSM team that went 10-1 this season.

Kelly also had offers from Florida, Colorado and Illinois.

A week ago, Cal got a commitment from David Davis, a 6-2, 295-pound defensive tackle from Long Beach City College and the grandson of NFL Hall of Famer Willie Davis.

Signing day for junior college players is Wednesday.


Football: How badly will Cal recruiting be impacted by its 1-11 record on the field?

The Cal football program is desperate to earn on the recruiting trail what eluded the Golden Bears during coach Sonny Dykes’ debut season: A few big victories.

Cal’s 1-11 record this fall stole much of the momentum generated when Dykes was hired a year ago, and it threatens to torpedo the Bears’ recruiting efforts.

Signing day is Feb. 5, and the early returns aren’t encouraging. Cal already has lost two top committed high school players, several more are wavering, and the Bay Area’s No. 1 prospect hasn’t decided where he’ll go.

Brandon Huffman, national recruiting analyst for Scout.com, says the Bears’ belly-flop season is the culprit.

“It had the potential to be so much better,” Huffman said. “There was a lot of traction when Sonny Dykes was hired, with NorCal kids especially. Now those kids aren’t even thinking twice about Cal.”

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A look at how the first season of the past six Pac-12 coaches hired to fix losing programs impacted their second recruiting class:

* STEVE SARKISIAN, Washington-x

On the field: The Huskies went from 0-12 the year before Sarkisian was hired to 5-7 in his 2009 debut season. Plus-5.

On the recruiting trail: Sarkisian’s first class (before he’d coached the team) was rated No. 66 nationally by Scout.com. A year later, his class was No. 11. Plus-55.


On the field: The Wildcats went from 4-8 the year before Rodriguez was hired to 8-5 in his 2012 debut season. Plus-3.5.

On the recruiting trail: Rodriguez’s first class was rated No. 46 nationally by Scout.com. A year later, his class was No. 27. Plus-19.


On the field: The Bruins went from 6-8 the year before Mora was hired to 9-5 in his 2012 debut season. Plus-3.

On the recruiting trail: Mora’s first class was rated No. 12 nationally by Scout.com. A year later, his class was No. 3. Plus-9.

* TODD GRAHAM, Arizona St.

On the field: The Sun Devils went from 6-7 the year before Graham was hired to 8-5 in his 2012 debut season. Plus-2.

On the recruiting trail: Graham’s first class was rated No. 43 nationally by Scout.com. A year later, his class was No. 30. Plus-13.

* MIKE LEACH, Washington St.

On the field: The Cougars went from 4-8 the year before Leach was hired to 3-9 in his 2012 debut season. Minus-1.

On the recruiting trail: Leach’s first class was rated No. 50 nationally by Scout.com. A year later, his class was No. 38. Plus-12.


On the field: The Bears went from 3-9 the year before Dykes was hired to 1-11 in his 2013 debut season. Minus-2.

On the recruiting trail: Dykes’ first class was rated tied for No. 31 nationally by Scout.com. A year later, his class currently is No. 59. Minus-28.

x — Sarkisian now is coach at USC.


Football: Mixon says Cal 1 of 4 finalists

Five-star running back Joe Mixon of Freedom-Oakley tells Scout.com he’s narrowed his list to four schools (in no particular order): Wisconsin, Cal Oklahoma and UCLA.

Off his previous list are Florida State and Washington.

But this thing is far from being decided.

Mixon said Steve Sarkisian’s move from Washington to USC will add the Trojans to his list, if Sark comes after him.


Of course Sarkisian will try recruiting him to USC. He wanted him in Seattle, he’ll want him in L.A.

And the lure of playing tailback at USC cannot be overstated. USC will be a factor in this thing.

Mixon said his home visit with UCLA on Monday went very well. He has home visits this week with the other three, including Cal.

Mixon has repeatedly talked about how much playing close to home would mean to him, and that’s a good thing for the Bears because it’s just about their best chip at this point after a 1-11 season. That and the chance to be a focal point of Cal’s running game.

But the landscape can get more complicated still. If Washington is able to lure alum Jim Mora Jr., away from UCLA — and I’m not sure that will happen — the Huskies could re-enter the equation.

Mixon said he plans to announce his decision at the Army All-American Game on Jan. 4 in San Antonio. Stay tuned.


Basketball: Monty on Diallo: `Fabulous athlete’

Cal coach Mike Montgomery remembers his reaction the first time he saw Idrissa Diallo on the basketball court.

“You’re just kind of, `Whoa, this guy can really run and jump.’ He’s like a 6-3 or 6-4 guy in a 6-10 body and about 230,” Montgomery said of the Senegalese native the Bears signed to a national letter of intent Wednesday night.

Diallo, a senior at Cathedral High in Los Angeles, joins four-star point guard Ahmaad Rorie in a two-man recruiting class that will arrive in Berkeley next fall.

Rated as a three-star prospect by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. Diallo came to the U.S. just two years ago.

Diallo played last season for Middlebrooks Academy in Los Angeles, where he averaged 21.3 points, 12.5 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game.

Still, as a basketball prospect, he is raw with a substantial upside.

“Fabulous athlete. He’s off the charts, athletically,” Montgomery said.

Diallo hasn’t played for five months because he broke his elbow, but Montgomery said the entire Cal coaching staff was impressed with what they saw last season.

He fills a personnel need with senior forward Richard Solomon — a similar body type — due to graduate.

“He stacks up favorably (with Solomon). He’s strong. He pursues the ball. He can really rebound,” Montgomery said. “He’s obviously a little inexperienced. He’s another one of the African kids who grew up playing soccer, like most of them.

“But he’s competitive and we can focus on getting him to get every ball, we can lob to him. Those kinds of athletes are tough to come by.”


Basketball: Cal lands 3-star center

Idrissa Diallo, a 6-foot-10, 220-pound center from Senegal, committed to Cal, his high school coach reported on Twitter.

Diallo, who plays at Cathedral High in Los Angeles, is a three-star prospect, according to Scout.com. The recruiting website ranks him as the nation’s No. 3o center prospect.

Rivals.com also lists Diallo as a three-star prospect and the 127th-ranked player overall in the 2014 class.

Diallo also had offers from Colorado, UCLA, USC, Oregon State, UNLV and Virginia Tech, among others.

He will join point guard Ahmaad Rorie in Cal’s 2014 class.