Football: Jaylinn Hawkins — the last signee

An hour after Cal coach Sonny Dykes completed his news conference Wednesday, introducing the Bears’ recruiting class of 2015, that class officially grew from 23 players to 24.

Jaylinn Hawkins of Buena Park High came on board, giving the Bears another player with the potential to play multiple positions.

Hawkins is rated among the nation’s top-25 wide receiver prospects by both Scout and Rivals, but it’s also possible he might end up playing defensive back.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder totaled 152 catches for 2,443 yards and 21 touchdowns. A two-way starter, he also had 11 career interceptions, 21 pass breakups, and 223 tackles for a program that was 25-9 over his three varsity seasons.

Scout and Rivals rated Hawkins as a four-star prospect, 247Sports and ESPN list him as a three-star player.

Here’s what is being said about him:

► Sonny Dykes: “Jaylinn is one of the best players in Southern California. He can do a lot of different things. I really love the way he plays the game. He’s very physical for his size. He can play a variety of positions. He’s a rangy fast athlete that’s very tough, very physical, and has a chance to really be a good football player.”

► ESPN: “Hawkins is an explosive, space player that is quicker than fast and likely going to see more upside if moved to the inside. He possesses some natural playmaking instincts as a pass catcher and knows what to do with the ball in his hands.”

► Scout: “He can make a corner look silly because of his smooth route running and then shows the speed to blow by him.”


Football: Bears’ class has Southeastern feel

Cal coach Sonny Dykes unveiled a 24-player recruiting class Wednesday with a distinct Southeastern flavor.

Despite losing two potential signees from the Southeast quadrant of the country in the past three days, the Bears landed seven players from states where Southeastern Conference recruiters generally have their way.

“I was really pleased to see we were getting some guys from the South. Obviously, the South is where the best football is played — that’s a fact,” said defensive end Russell Ude, a defensive end from Atlanta who had offers from three SEC schools, including Georgia. “It shows that Cal can come into SEC territory and snatch up SEC talent.”

The Bears also signed players from Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas, where Carlos Strickland was a consensus four-star wide receiver in Dallas. Strickland said no to SEC powerhouse Alabama to come to Cal.

“I kind of want to go somewhere where we can rebuild and be a part of the come-up,” said Strickland, who became a Cal fan growing up when he followed the likes of Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson.

The geographical slant to Cal’s recruiting seemingly netted a positive result this year. Rivals rated the Bears’ class in the top 30 nationally, and Scout has the Bears in the top 40.

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Austin Aaron: WR Napa 6-5, 210
Third-generation Cal athlete had 115 career catches, 2,082 yards, 23 TDs

Antoine Albert: CB Oakland 6-2, 220
Oakland Tech grad expected to join team in fall after 2 years at Diablo Valley College

Greyson Bankhead: WR Corona 5-10, 160
Excellent route-runner caught 137 passes for 2,061 yards and 22 TDs in prep career

Luc Bequette: DT Little Rock, Ark 6-2, 285
Mother Debi Thomas is a Stanford grad and 1988 Olympic figure skating bronze medalist

Ross Bowers: QB Bothell, WA 6-1, 175
Four-star ESPN recruit passed for 37 TDs for unbeaten state championship team

Derron Williams-Brown: Saf Laveen, AZ 6-2, 195
Mid-year JC signee arrives with three years’ eligibility and chance to find place in spring ball

Ryan Gibson: C Bay St. Louis, MS 6-3, 265
Started four years in high school, father played defensive back at Navy

Jaylinn Hawkins: ATH Buena Park 6-1, 180
Rated a four-star prospect by Scout and Rivals, could end up at WR or DB

Trevor Howard: DL Westlake Village 6-4, 235
Injured most of senior year; father played at Kansas, uncle at UCLA, grandfather at Wisconsin

Zeandae Johnson: DL Fresno 6-5, 250
Primarly a high school tight end, Johnson will play on the defensive side for Cal

Dylan Klumph: P Encino 6-3, 230
Golden West CC punter arrives with three years to play; could also do kickoffs

Billy McCrary III: Ath Leander, TX 5-10, 195
Dual-threat prep QB accounted for 72 career TDs, but will get first look as DB

Patrick Mekari: OL Westlake Village 6-5, 300
He is the younger brother of current Cal defensive tackle Tony Mekari

Kanawai Noa: WR Honolulu 6-0, 170
Prolific prep receiver had 146 career catches for 3.195 yards, 34 touchdowns

Lonny Powell: RB Sacramento 6-1, 205
Mid-year enrollee averaged 11.5 yards per rush or catch, with 38 career TDs in 38 games

Malik Psalms: CB Chino Hills 6-3, 175
Rated as a 4-star prospect and nation’s No. 27 cornerback by Rivals

Evan Rambo: Saf Pasadena 6-3, 190
Played exclusively on defense as a senior; could play several DB spots for Cal

Cameron Saffle: DL Sammamish,WA 6-3, 225
Played on two state title teams; expected to play defensive end for the Bears

Brandon Singleton: WR Bouttee, LA 6-0, 175
Speed receiver owns state high school 300 hurdles record; father Nate played for 49ers

Carlos Strickland: WR Dallas, TX 6-5, 200
Four-star prospect, who caught 25 TDs past two seasons, picked Cal over Texas, UCLA

DePriest Turner: Saf Mobile, Ala 6-1, 180
Passed and ran for more than 6,000 yards and 61 TDs as prep QB, will play DB for Bears

Russell Ude: DE Atlanta, GA 6-4, 250
Four-star prospect expected to play as freshman and provide boost to sagging pass rush

Semisi Uluave: OG Honolulu 6-5, 320
Rated by Scout as a 4-star and top prospect in Hawaii; does LDS mission factor in future?

DeVante Wilson: DE Corona 6-5, 245
December signee began career at USC in 2011 before knee injury sent him to Riverside CC


Football: Class gets a lift from Hawaiian guard

Cal’s football recruiting class netted at least one surprise Wednesday morning when Semisi Uluave, a huge offensive guard from Honolulu, joined the Bears on signing day.

Uluave, a teammate of Cal-bound wideout Kanawai Noa at Punahou School, picked the Bears over UCLA, Texas Tech and Oregon. Although Noa had reportedly been campaigning for Cal, Uluave’s decision was a bit unexpected.

But it was a welcome addition to a position group that took a couple hits in Cal’s recruiting over the past several weeks. Placer offensive lineman Johnny Capra flipped to Utah, then Nick Buchanan of Dunwoody, Georgia, withdrew his commitment to Cal on Monday.

Click here to read the rest of this story.


Football: Signing day is here


Cal’s coaches went to bed Tuesday night wondering what national signing day would bring for two of their commitments from the Southeast.

Wednesday morning arrived and the Bears kept one and lost one.

Defensive tackle Luc Bequette of Little Rock, Arkansas, sent in his signed letter-of-intent, choosing the Bears over strong, late pushes from Florida and Georgia.

But defensive back Keith Washington of Prattville, Alabama, flipped to Michigan, where he signed with new coach Jim Harbaugh.

Otherwise, things moved quickly and went according to form for the Golden Bears. By 8 a.m., they had 13 signed letters in hand, to go with four players who signed at mid-year and already are enrolled in classes.

In particular, Cal closed the deal on its biggest recruits – wideout Carlos Strickland of Dallas and defensive end Russell Ude of Atlanta. The Bears signed all four of their four-star commitments, also securing defensive back Malik Psalms and running back Lonny Powell, who signed at mid-year.

Bequette’s status was unclear after he’d taken trips the past two weekends to Georgia and Florida. In the end, he stayed with Cal, as Dykes signed seven of eight players from the Southeast with whom they had commitments.

“Proud to be a Golden Bear,” Bequette posted on his Twitter account. “This is going to be a great next 3-5 years. Thanks for the supporters. Next up . . . Prove everybody else wrong. . .”

“Luc is an under the radar student-athlete that we saw at our camp last summer. He has played both offensive and defensive line, and we like him as a defensive tackle,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said on the school’s athletic website. “We thought he really moved well. He is a young player with a tremendous upside that we think makes a lot of sense.”

Click here for video highights of Bequette in action.

Bequette has some serious athletic genes in his favor. His father Chris played football at Arkansas, his mother, Debi Thomas, is a Stanford grad and was the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist figure skater, and cousin Jake plays for the New England Patriots.

Cal also got Wednesday morning letters from: OL Ryan Gibson, Ath Billy McCrary, WR Brandon Singleton, DB DePriest Turner, DL Zeandae Johnson, DL Cameron Saffle, P Dylan Klumph, OL Patrick Mekari and DL Trevor Howard.

Already signed at mid-year, in addition to Powell, are QB Ross Bowers, DB Derron Brown and DE DeVante Wilson. All four will participate in spring practice.

Here are Dykes’ first comments on several of his top signees, courtesy of Cal’s website:

On Ude: “Russell is your prototypical defensive end. He has great size, great speed and is a very productive football player. He’s also an excellent student who comes from a great family and is just a solid person. He’s one of those kids that has the maturity to potentially come in and play early. We really like his upside. He’s going to continue to develop and we really like what he brings to our program.” Click here for video.

On Strickland: “Carlos is one of the elite wide receivers in the country. He has the exact size and speed everyone is looking for. When you put the film on I don’t know that anyone has a better combination of that in the entire country. He can go get the ball. We’re really fortunate that he has chosen to become a part of our program. He has an opportunity to get on the field relatively quickly and become a special player.” Click here for video.

On Psalms: “Malik was a very productive high school football player and is exactly what we’re looking for as a defensive back. He’s got length and tremendous athleticism and knows how to play the ball. He really changes direction well for someone with his size. He is also a great student.” Click here for video.


Football: Cal’s commit list on eve of signing day

With one day to go before national letters of intent are signed, here is Cal’s expected recruiting class, currently at 23 players.

Because commitments aren’t binding until paperwork is in, things remain fluid. Word is that three-star DT Luc Bequette is waffling and considering a late offer from Florida.

Also, Cal Rivals is reporting that Alabama prep defensive back Keith Washington is now considering an offer from new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and will announce Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. PT.

The Bears already have lost offensive lineman Johnny Capra and Nick Buchanan in recent weeks.

I will update Cal’s signings Wednesday in this space or via Twitter (@JeffFaraudo).

Cal will announce signings beginning Wednesday morning on CalBears.com/Signing Day 


Austin Aaron: WR, Napa, 6-5, 200
Antoine Albert: CB, Oakland, 6-2, 220
Greyson Bankhead: WR, Corona, 5-9, 155
Luc Bequette: DT, Little Rock, Ark 6-3, 290
x-Ross Bowers: QB, Bothell, WA, 6-1, 175
x-Derron Brown: Safety, Laveen, AZ, 6-2, 195
Ryan Gibson: C, Bay St. Louis, MS, 6-2, 271
Billy McCrary III: Ath, Leander, TX, 5-11, 187
Trevor Howard: OLB, Westlake Village, 6-3, 224
Zeandae Johnson: DL, Fresno, 6-2, 240
Dylan Klumph: P/PK, Encino, 6-3, 225
Patrick Mekari: OL, Westlake Village, 6-5, 280
Kanawai Noa: WR, Honolulu, 6-0, 170
x-Lonny Powell: RB, Sacramento, 6-1, 205
Malik Psalms: CB, Chino Hills, 6-2, 175
Evan Rambo: Safety, Pasadena, 6-3, 190
Cameron Saffle: DL, Sammamish, WA, 6-3, 221
Brandon Singleton: WR, Bouttee, LA, 6-0, 170
Carlos Strickland: WR, Dallas, TX, 6-4, 195
DePriest Turner: Safety, Mobile, Ala, 6-2, 170
Russell Ude: DE, Atlanta, GA, 6-3, 245
x-DeVante Wilson: DE, Corona, 6-5, 245
Keith Washington: CB, Prattville, Ala, 6-2, 170

x–Already have signed financial aid agreements and are enrolled in classes, enabling them to participate in spring practice.


Football: Bears lose 3-star O-line commit

Nick Buchanan, a three-star offensive line commitment from Dunwoody, Ga., de-committed from Cal on Monday night and is expected to sign with Florida, according to SB Nation. He also recently took a recruiting trip to Georgia.

Here is Buchanan’s announcement on Twitter:

“With a heavy heart, and in my best interest I have officially decided to deccommit from the University of California, Berkeley.

“Gotta thank the coaches for offering me a scholarship no doubt I wouldn’t be where I am with out that! Wish everyone there the best of luck!”

The defection of Buchanan, a 6-foot-4, 285-pounder, leaves the Bears with just two committed offensive linemen expected to sign Wednesday.

Buchanan is the second offensive line prospect to de-commit from the Bears since offensive line coach Zach Yenser left for a position at Kansas. Johnny Capra, a three-star tackle from Placer, flipped to Utah on Jan. 21.


Football: Aaron Rodgers is NFL’s MVP again

Former Cal star Aaron Rodgers was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press for the second in four seasons.

Rodgers completed 341-of-520 passes (65.6%) for 4,381 yards with 38 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2014 for a 112.2 quarterback rating that was second-best in the NFL and the second-best of his 10-year NFL career. He led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game.

Previously, Rodgers also was named first-team All-Pro and was chosen to the Pro Bowl.


Football: Jared Goff’s odds of winning Heisman? 50/1

The Las Vegas-based gambling website Bovada has released early odds on who will win the 2015 Heisman Trophy.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott, star of the College Football Playoff championship game, was installed as a 6/1 favorite.

Cal quarterback Jared Goff, coming off a record-setting sophomore season, is listed as 50/1.

Odds to win the Heisman Trophy

Ezekiel Elliott (RB Ohio State) 6/1

Dak Prescott (QB Mississippi State) 7/1

Leonard Fournette (RB LSU) 7/1

Trevone Boykin (QB TCU) 15/2

Cody Kessler (QB USC) 12/1

Nick Chubb (RB Georgia) 12/1

Paul Perkins (RB UCLA) 12/1

Derrick Henry (RB Alabama) 14/1

Samaje Perine (RB Oklahoma) 14/1

Cardale Jones (QB Ohio State) 14/1

J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State) 16/1

Braxton Miller (QB Ohio State) 18/1

Connor Cook (QB Michigan State) 20/1

Josh Robinson (RB Mississippi State) 22/1

Corey Clement (RB Wisconsin) 25/1

D.J. Foster (RB Arizona State) 25/1

Royce Freeman (RB Oregon) 25/1

Brad Kaaya (QB Miami) 33/1

Dalvin Cook (RB Florida State) 33/1

Deshaun Watson (QB Clemson) 33/1

James Connor (RB Pittsburgh) 33/1

Justin Thomas (QB Georgia Tech) 33/1

Nick Wilson (RB Arizona) 33/1

Seth Russell (QB Baylor) 33/1

Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State) 40/1

Jacoby Brissett (QB North Carolina State) 50/1

Jalen Hurd (RB Tennessee) 50/1

Jared Goff (QB California) 50/1

Marquise Williams (QB North Carolina) 50/1

Laquon Treadwell (WR Mississippi) 66/1

Scooby Wright (LB Arizona) 66/1