Notes: Zach Kline is the first verbal commit to Cal in the Class of 2012. As a junior, Kline jumped onto the recruiting scene by winning the Nike Football Training Camp QB accuracy competition at Stanford in the summer. 2010 was Kline's first full season as San Ramon Valley Wolves' varsity starting QB. He took in a few bumps and made progress. By the end of season, Kline earned ESPN RISE/Cal Hi-Sports' All-State Juniors' 2nd team selection . Kline is coached by Roger Theder, who was also Class of 2011 quarterback Kyle Boehm's coach.
This is Part I of CGB's Q&A w/ Kyle. You can find Part II here.
The first question is regarding Zach's fit w/ Cal's brand & character. It is something that Coach Kenwick Thompson talked about at recent recruiting events. How do you think Zach is going to fit?
Kyle: As far as a player, a person? How do you want to characterize that?
This question comes more from the person perspective.
Kyle: Well, there's not many kids that's mature, well-spoken, and genuinely nice than Zach Kline at the high school level. I ran into a lot of kids, talk to a lot of kids over the past several years covering sports interviews. He's one of the nicer kids that I've had a chance to cover and talk to. I don't think you are going to have situations where he's going to be the kid in trouble or causing any problems. He's just a real good kid. Obviously all Cal fans should be really excited about it.
How important do you think academics were to Zach's recruiting process? Do you have any idea what his academics interest might be?
Kyle: I don't what his interests are, but I do know the academics of Cal definitely impacted his decision. He told me that being in the #1 ranked public school was definitely something that factored into his decision to go there. I don't know what kind of student he is but I do know that Cal's reputation is attractive to him so that kind of leads me to believe that he takes his academics seriously.
What do you are Zach's strengths as a player on the football field?
Kyle: He's got a great arm. That's something you can see during summer at all these camps. That's how he shot up really high on all these big time programs because of what he did w/ 7on7 drills. I mean, he's a kid who can make all the throws. He's not going to be a kid who can run your offense yet because he doesn't have certain capabilities physically. He's a good leader, having the perspective of last year. As far as strength, you don't get early offers like he did unless you are strong across the board. He's definitely capable physically to match up with a lot of tall quarterbacks in the country.
What do you think Zach will need to work on to be successful at the college level?
Kyle: As physically gifted as he is, he still has a lot to work on. He didn't really settle down that much last year during the season. His team didn't really do that well compared to expectations. For him it's really about decision-making on the field. This is what I worry about him. I saw him a few times last year. There were times he looked great. There were times he looked liked just another high school quarterback. Coming from EBAL (East Bay Athletic League), San Ramon Valley (SRV) High specifically, there are pretty impressive standards set by guys who have come before him. Joe Southwick was about the same size. Southwick is the backup now at Boise State. You watch Southwick at the same age as Zach, and Southwick was a better quarterback. I don’t think anyone who’s really going to disagree with that. Southwick didn’t really jump on to the recruiting world like Zach did for whatever reason. I am not an expert in recruiting.
It’s kind of interesting to see some of these other kids who have gotten their offers. Sean Mannion who was at Foothill and now Oregon State didn’t get his offer until the summer of his senior year. Mannion was as good if not better than Zach. Someone who was probably better was Brett Nottingham at Monte Vista now at Stanford. Nottingham was much more impressive his junior year than Zach was. Nottingham didn’t get offers until before his senior year. It’s kind of interesting to see how quickly Zach became a hot prospect. Zach was getting offers before starting varsity games and didn’t really do some of the things his junior year other guys did. So it’ll be interesting to see how that comes down his senior year.
I mean, he had a good year, but he didn’t have a great year. He wasn’t one of the three best quarterbacks in his own league this year, as far as production goes. I know it’s difficult to judge that because if you put someone on a different team, a different system, the numbers are obviously going to be quite different. But if you are just in EBAL and his league, there was Bart Houston from De La Salle, who had a better year than Kline did. Bart is also a junior. Jeff Lockie at Monte Vista who’s also a junior had a better year than Zach. Drew Reil from California High who’s a senior and not a Division 1 prospect at all had a better year than Zach did. He’s really gotta step up his senior year if he’s gonna fill the expectations of the Cal fans.
That’s really interesting since you actually jumped ahead into some of the other questions we have. Let’s just push forward. What do you think are some of most important factors in Zach giving a verbal commitment so early?
Kyle: I think the number one reason is his relationship w/ Jeff Tedford. That’s the reason why Zach is committed to play at Cal. I talked to Zach a few times after he committed. He said that he really feels like he can call Tedford at anytime to talk about football. He felt almost like a father-son type of relationship. When you have like a relationship characterized like that it is going to start to become a factor. I mean, he was CAL CAL CAL all summer and he obviously received interest from everywhere. But as soon as he got the Cal offer after the beginning of Mitty (Tedford & several other coaches were out there for the season opener last year), he just accepted on the spot because it’s all about his relationship w/ Tedford. You know, there are other factors too. But I really believe that Zach’s relationship w/ Tedford is really what set Cal apart, based on my conversation w/ him.
But it was interesting. He didn’t have the offer from Cal until the first game of the year. So SRV played Mitty the beginning of the year. They won 16-13. Zach was alright. He was like 15 for 20 or 15 for 22 about 140 yds. No TDs. It was ok. It was also interesting that Zach was playing against Kyle Boehm, who also committed to Cal. But Cal got out there to see Boehm & Kline. Zach outperformed Boehm in that game. Cal went ahead and gave Zach the scholarship. He accepted. So I believe he was at Cal on Sunday (the game was on Saturday) when Zach went on campus to accept the scholarship offer. So you got to look back on the game where there wasn’t much offense. You had two Cal-bound quarterbacks leading both offenses. If I were a Cal fan it’s not something I’d be extremely excited about. It is high school so there is sometimes good defense but at the same time you have two highly-touted quarterbacks who should’ve put together more than a 16-13 game. It was a great game but it wasn’t about the quarterback play. It was about the defenses which was rarely seen. I’ve covered several games that featured two dominant quarterbacks that would always become shootouts at some point. Nottingham and Mannion faced off a couple times. Nottingham vs Southwick. There’s been a lot of these games that paired highly-touted quarterbacks and it’s always high scoring. Guys throwing up 350-400 yards in a game. Kyle Boehm went fewer than 150. So I’m not exactly sure if that says anything, but it was definitely interesting to see the offensive struggles.
We are going to come back to that question later, Kyle Boehm vs Zach Kline. The SRV Wolves actually made it into the playoffs last season. What is your outlook for them this season?
Kyle: They should be fine. They lose their key guys on defense Kyle Egan who’s a veteran linebacker and a really good player. Mark Kessler is in his third year as head coach. He’s got his system in place. His kids have been in it for awhile. That can only help it with another year. I look at Zach Kline as the starting point in the offense. Jordan Weiss who’s a running back who’s showing signs of being a really good player late. He’s not like a Division 1 recruit by any means but definitely serviceable for what they do. Kessler is trying to put together a schedule that’ll challenge them. That’s always how it is.
As far as the league is concerned, there’s always De La Salle. No one is really going to challenge De La Salle. It’d be ridiculous to think that SRV, California High, Monte Vista is going to be that this year. There’s no sign of De La Salle slowing down this year especially with Bart Houston back. It’d be interesting for SRV. The league is so good that you can have a big team and then just be average. Last year when the Wolves beat Mitty the expectation shot through the roof. Then they got shut out by Granada and got handled pretty easily by California High. They snuck by Foothill and had a puzzling loss to Amador. SRV didn’t really beat all the team they were supposed to. They probably should’ve beat Granada and Amador. Then SRV came back and beat Monte Vista in the playoffs which I didn’t really see coming. Zach was playing well by the end of the year. He was playing well against Monte Vista in the NCS Playoff game. If Zach puts together a nice summer and comes out and be ready to go then SRV should be a playoff team again. I don’t think it’ll be unrealistic to see them in the semifinals. The moral was kind of low for SRV last year going into the playoffs. They finished the year losing 5 of their last 7 games in the regular season but still got into the playoffs. Then SRV won their first two playoff games and made it into the semifinals. It’ll be interesting just because last year was such a weird year for them – making it into the semifinals but losing 6 games in the regular season.
Sounds like it’ll be a key season for San Ramon Valley and for Zach.
Kyle: Yeah. Obviously it’s Zach’s senior year so it’s definitely important. I don’t see how a year goes by and it’s not a key season at this stage. SRV has made the playoffs every year. I don’t remember the last time they missed the playoffs. It might have been when Dave Krauss was the coach. Krauss was the coach before for 17 years and he missed the playoffs once. SRV only missed the playoffs once in the last 19 years. So you expect SRV to be a dominant football program. You expect good things from them every year. I don’t think expectations have really changed for them from year to year just because their standard is set so high.
Is this year more important than others? Probably not. SRV has had big time quarterbacks before. They had Sam Keller. Things started w/ him. They had Corbin Louks who went to Utah and now playing receiver at Nevada. Then Southwick. This isn’t new for SRV to have a big time quarterback. They are kind of used to it in Danville now w/ SRV having the top guys.
Once again, many thanks to Kyle Bonagura for taking the time to answer our questions. Don't forget to follow Kyle @ danville.patch.com and on Twitter @ PatchSportsEB if you want to find up-to-date game stories and Zach's performances in the upcoming football season.
Stay locked in @ CGB for Part II of Q&A w/ Kyle, especially for the all important question - Kyle Boehm vs Zach Kline.
I leave you w/ Zach's junior highlights: