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Football: Harper, Leininger join watch lists

 Juniors Chris Harper and Cole Leininger were named to preseason watch lists Wednesday, with Harper earning a spot on the wide receivers list assembled by the College Football Performance Awards, Leininger for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s top punter.

Harper is one of 42 wide receivers on the list with the winner of the award to be announced on January 14, 2015.

Harper has been Cal’s most productive receiver over the last two seasons and is the team’s active career leader in receptions (111), receiving yards (1,396), receiving touchdowns (7).

Last season, Harper caught 70 passes for 852 yards and five touchdowns.

Leininger is one of the Ray Guy Award’s 25 preseason candidates for the first time and is a member of the award’s watch list for the second consecutive year.

Leininger is coming off a 2013 sophomore campaign in which he increased his punting average by 3.0 yards per punt to a 42.9 mark for the eighth-best avearge in school history.

His 41.5 yards per punt career average ranks No. 10 on Cal’s all-time list.

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Football: Bears land 4-star quarterback

The Bears missed out on two Bay Area prospects they were pursuing, but landed a verbal commit Tuesday from quarterback Ross Bowers of Bothell, Washington.

Cal whiffed on four-star cornerback/athlete Isaiah Langley of Foothill-Pleasanton, who chose USC, and three-star athlete Stephen Johnson of San Leandro, who said he will attend UCLA.

All three players made their announcements at The Opening, a prestigious camp held at Nike headquarters in Oregon.

The 6-foot-1, Bowers, rated as a four-star quarterback. by espn.com, is a pro-style quarterback according to rivals.com. He chose Cal over Colorado State, the school he was favoring until recently.

“I’ve always considered myself the underdog,” he said on ESPNU. “That’s how I work out, that’s how I train.”

Scout.com rates Bowers as a three-star player and the No. 58 QB prospect in the country. Rivals also rates him as a three-star prospect.

Bowers, whose father coaches at James Madison University, visited the Berkeley campus a couple weeks ago and was taken by Cal’s coaching staff and sophomore quarterback Jared Goff.

“I got to talk with (Jared Goff) on my visit and I realized he’s such a good dude and definitely be a guy I can look up to and definitely help me on my way,” Bowers said. “Being under him coming in as a freshman and trying to learn and soak up as much as I can from him. He’s a great guy and just try to be the best I can be in that program.”

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Football: Goff named to another QB watch list

Doesn’t it seem like there are an awful lot of college football awards and the preseason watch lists that go with them?

Once upon a time there was the Heisman Trophy. Now everyone’s giving out hardware.

Cal sophomore Jared Goff, named to the Maxwell Award watch list on Monday, was among 40 quarterbacks chosen to the College Football Performance Awards Quarterback Trophy.

Eight of the 40 nominees — 20 percent of them — are from the Pac-12. The others: ASU’s Taylor Kelly, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, OSU’s Sean Mannion, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, USC;s Cody Kessler and WSU’s Connor Halliday.

That’s a QB from every conference school except Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

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Football: Goff, Muhammad on watch lists

Cal sophomores Jared Goff and Khalfani Muhammad are part of early-season watch lists for a couple national awards.

Goff, who set Cal’s single-season passing yardage record (3,508 yards) as a freshman last fall, is on the Maxwell Award preseason watch list. The Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s top college football player, dates back to 1937.

Goff is among 16 Pac-12 players and seven quarterbacks from the conference on the list. Other QBs from the Pac-12 in the running are: Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, ASU’s Taylor, Kelly, USC’s Cody Kessler, Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced on Nov. 3.

Muhammad is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation’s most versatile player. As a freshman last season, Muhammad led Cal with 445 rushing yards and a 6.0 per-carry average, and totaled 1,638 all-purpose yards, including 46 kickoff returns for 1,003 yards.

Muhammad is one of seven Pac-12 players on the 47-man watch list. Others include Stanford’s Ty Montgomery, USC’s Nelson Agholor and UCLA’s Myles Jack.

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Football: Bears add two weekend commits

Cal got a pair of weekend recruiting commitments, including one from 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive tackle Johnny Capra of Placer High. Capra is rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com.

The Bears also landed two-star tight end Zeandae Johnson, a 6-2, 240-pounder from Fresno’s Central HS East Campus.

Earlier last month, got Cal a commit from three-star center Ryan Gibson, a 6-2, 271-pounder from St. Stanislaus HS in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Gibson is rated by Scout as the 15th-best center prospect in the country.

Cal now has seven oral commitments for the class of 2015.

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Basketball: Martin OK that Bears likely to enter season with just 10 available scholarship players

Had breakfast with new basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who said he’s bought a home in Piedmont but will spend much of the rest of this summer recruiting for the Class of 2015.

He also confirmed the Bears are likely to go into next season with just 10 eligible scholarship players. Martin said he won’t use either of the program’s two open scholarships this summer, unless he’s able to land a senior graduate transfer who is immediately eligible.

That means — although Martin cannot discuss recruits by name — there is nothing to online chatter that Cal might be pursuing former Oregon guard and Bay Area native Dominic Artis.

The situation is complicated because Artis played for the Oakland Soldiers, the powerhouse traveling team that features Bishop O’Dowd HS star Ivan Rabb, rated by some as the top prospect in the Class of 2015.

The Bears, and everyone else, want Rabb, but my sense is they won’t sign Artis to get him. Artis was one of three players booted from Oregon this spring after being the subject of a sexual assault investigation. While no charges were filed, the incident was unseemly enough that the school divorced itself from all three players.

Asked how concerned he is about his scholarship numbers for next season, Martin said, “Not at all. We’ve been in situations like this before. The strength and conditioning part is important, but also being smart in practice.”

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Football: Which high-level prospects from the Class of 2015 the Golden Bears are chasing

Below is a rundown of the 48 high school players Cal is recruiting off Scout.com’s list of top-300 national prospects. These include five-star and four-star prospects, according to Scout’s evaluations.

The Bears have four commitments so far for the class of 2015 — all of them three-star prospects.

Among the group shown here, there are several trends worth noting:

– Twelve of the 48 are wide receivers. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin just can’t have enough of them on his roster.

– Only one is a quarterback — No. 99 prospect Travis Waller of Servite-Anaheim.

– Two are tight ends, a position the Bears hardly utilize.

– Eight are from the state of Texas, a recruiting hotbed and backyard to Louisiana Tech, where coach Sonny Dykes and his staff still have recruiting ties.

– Six of the seven five-star prospects the Bears are pursuing are defensive players. In all, 27 of the 48 listed play defense.

We’ll keep an eye on this list to see how many Dykes and his staff are able to land.

Scout.com 5-star prospects recruited by Cal

2. OLB Malik Jefferson, Ralph H. Poteet HS, Mesquite, Texas, 6-3, 220
10. DT Kahlil McKenzie, De La Salle HS, 6-4, 330
11. CB Iman Marshall, Long Beach Poly HS, 6-1.5, 190
16. WR DeMarkus Lodge, Cedar Hill HS, Cedar Hill, Texas, 6-2, 188
22. DE Keisean Lucier-South, Lutheran Orange HS, Orange, 6-4.5, 220
27. OLB John Houston, Serra HS, Gardena, 6-3, 218
28. DE Canton Kaumatule, Punahoa School, Honolulu, 6-6, 259

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Football: Kaufman’s deal as DC for more money, fewer years than Buh, who exits with $1 million

Cal will pay new football defensive coordinator Art Kaufman more than his predecessor but has protected itself by giving him a shorter contract.

Kaufman, who replaced Andy Buh after the Bears allowed a school-record 45.9 points per game last season, signed a two-year deal valued at $550,000 per season, not including potential performance incentives, according to documents obtained by this newspaper. Kaufman also got a one-time $20,000 signing bonus.

Buh came onboard with new coach Sonny Dykes before the 2013 season and received a three-year contract worth $500,000 per season — all of it guaranteed. After the Bears’ 1-11 campaign, Buh was fired without cause on April 2, an athletic department spokesman said, leaving the department on the hook for the remaining $1 million on his contract.

An athletic department spokesman said no settlement or compromise was reached with Buh and confirmed the university is “fulfilling obligations to the contract” with monthly payments over the next two years.

Buh, who could not be reached for comment, is obligated by terms of his contract to seek employment. Cal’s financial obligation to him would be reduced by the amount of his salary in a new position.

Kaufman, 55, who came to Cal from Cincinnati, will cost Cal more in the short term, but less if the two part ways before his two-year contact ends.

Kaufman will earn $225,000 in base salary each season, plus a $325,000 talent fee. He will receive the entirety of his $550,000 annual salary if fired anytime before the end of his first season, but only $340,000 if dismissed prior to the end of the second season.

If Kaufman decides to leave Cal prior to April 30, 2015, he must pay the university $75,000.

Kaufman’s salary is line with others at his position in the Pac-12 Conference. He’ll earn more than new Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski ($485,000), but less than UW paid Justin Wilcox ($750,000) in 2013. Wilcox left Washington after last season, following coach Steve Sarkisian to USC.

Kaufman can earn bonuses ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 if the Bears play in various bowl games. He will earn $25,000 if Cal’s 2014 defense is ranked among the nation’s top-50 in fewest points per game allowed, and $25,000 if the ’15 squad is ranked among the top-25.

Cal ranked second-to-last nationally last season in scoring defense — 122nd out of 123 Football Bowl Subidivision teams. Kaufman’s Cincinnati defense ranked 14th nationally, allowing 21.0 points per game.

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Football: Times set on 3 games for 2014

Times are set for three of Cal’s 2014 football games, including its home opener Sept. 6 against Sacramento State, which kicks off at noon and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cal’s game against Oregon at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday, Oct. 24, will begin at 7 p.m.

And the Bears’ Thursday, Nov. 13 game at USC is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff.

Cal’s season-opener at Northwestern is part of the Big Ten Conference television package and is expected to be announced soon.

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Hall of Fame: Natalie Coughlin leads 2014 class

Swimmer Natalie Coughlin, winner of 11 NCAA titles and 12 Olympic medals, heads the seven-member 2014 class of inductees into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame.

Also part of Cal’s 29th Hall of Fame class are gymnast Tom Beach, swimmer Anthony Ervin, golfer Sarah Huarte, track and field athlete Grace Upshaw, football coach Ray Willsey and contributor Rick Cronk, who earned the Hall of Fame Service Award.

Induction ceremonies will be held Oct. 17 at the Greek Orthodox Church Conference Center in Oakland. Ticket information for the event can be found at www.bigcsociety.com.

Here’s a capsule on each inductee:

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