It's gonna be a good week.
From yesterday's Semper Fi All-American Bowl and the commitment of Center Matt Cochran (Atwater, CA):
Awesome. More to come? I think so.
Our guys showed out big time yesterday. Barton and Nickerson were absolute tackling machines in the middle for the West. I was impressed with Barton's closing speed and instincts, and Nickerson seemed to always be around the ball. Great stuff from the future ILB's. After having a great week of practice, Bryce Treggs had a quiet game except for a 50 yard kickoff return, thanks mostly to inadequate QB play. Zach Kline should remedy that in the future. Freddie Tagaloa is humungous, and was dominant at the left tackle. He'll be a difference maker sooner than later. Zach Hoffpauir really impressed me. The guy is demon, and his athleticism was on display in the secondary. And Matt Cochran? Well, he brought the best news of all...
Matt Cochran, OL, Buhach (Atwater, CA). Committed to Cal over Tennessee, Auburn, and Washington. Cochran is a huge center at 340 lbs, and is a real mauler. He's got good footwork, but is an SEC-style bruiser who can hold his own against bullrushes from big defensive tackles. If he can snap effectively out of the shotgun, he could contend for PT pretty quickly. Love this addition to the class of 2012.
DeForest Buckner, DE Punahou (Honolulu, HI). Committed to Oregon, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Good get for Oregon, but we seem to be pursuing some bigger fish. Should we land them, this won't bother me much. Not sour grapes, just the truth.
Some updates on our two commits at the Under Armour All-American Bowl (tomorrow at 4:30 PST on ESPN):
Zach Kline, QB (Cal) San Ramon Valley (Danville, CA). Is kicking ass in Florida. Hard to not be excited about Zach. He looks like he'll be something special for us:
Cal quarterback commitment Zach Kline (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley) has easily had the best two days of any quarterback in the game. His arm is quick, his motion compact and his arm strength is on an elite level. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has zipped the ball all over the field in the intermediate passing game, fitting throws into some tight windows.
Darius Powe, WR (Cal) Lakewood (Lakewood, CA). Is also kicking ass in Florida:
Cal commit Darius Powe is one of the few representatives from the West Coast in the game, but he did a good job of representing today. Powe is a big receiver at 6'3/200 and used his strength to get off of jams and make catches in tight spots. Powe did an excellent job of cutting underneath the defensive backs on under thrown balls to make catches that could have turned into interceptions.
And here's a tidbit on our main uncommitted target at the Under Armour Bowl:
Joey O'Connor, OL Windsor (Windsor, CO). Currently has a top 3 of Ohio State, Cal and Iowa and is hoping to visit each school before a decision on National Signing Day. O'Connor is a versatile guy with a nice mean streak...really the kind of guy that Coach M likes to have. Much will hinge on O'Connor's experience on his visit to Berkeley, but tOSU could be hard to beat if they offer him. Speaking of Coah M, O'Connor had this to say about his relationship with the Cal OL Coach:
I really like Coach (Jim) Michalczik, he is a great offensive line coach," O'Connor said. "Him and I have built a really good relationship. I want to get out there and check out the facilities, the area, and to see if that is the kind of cultural fit for me.
Now to the US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. The game will be Saturday on NBC at 10AM PST:
Shaq Thompson, ATH Grant Union (Sacramento, CA). Is trolling hard. Eliminated USC over twitter backlash to his claims that he was seriously looking at the Trojans, listing a revised top 2 of Cal and Washington...with Notre Dame stepping in for SC. Plans to announce at the game on Saturday, and something truly horrible would have to happen in the next two days for us to not get a commitment from the local star. Has been looking good:
Thompson lived up to his five-star billing on Tuesday in drills and in one-on-ones, showing that he can move for his size and is as physical as expected. He won a few jump ball battles against both fellow defensive backs in drills and against wide receivers in offense-defense settings. His ball skills also showed as he had a pick and went up for the ball at its highest point. In run support, he was in the right place often.
The Future?! Ellis McCarthy (left), Aziz Shittu (center) and Arik Armstead were dominant on Tuesday (from 247Sports).
Aziz Shittu, DT, Buhach (Atwater, CA). Will visit Stanford on January 13, SC on January 20, and UCLA on January 27, with an announcement around Signing Day. Hinted that he, Ellis McCarthy and Arik Armstead could choose to play at the same school in college ($). Hmm, who could benefit from such an arrangement??? Has been performing very well in Santonio. This is from yesterday's practices:
Shittu is listed as a defensive tackle in the Rivals.com database. But he appears to be better and more comfortable as a defensive end, and it showed on Tuesday. Shittu was very good coming off the ball from an outside technique and he ran a few plays down from the backside. But most impressively, Shittu played with passion and did everything with a touch of violence on the day, initiating more contact than he received. On one play, he stuffed Barry Sanders in the backfield for a loss drawing compliments from his teammates and kudos from the coaches.
Arik Armstead, DE Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove, CA). Hosted a chat through Rivals, check out the transcript here. Still planning to enroll early, but will not make a decision at the game on Saturday. Looking like a Cal/Notre Dame battle at this juncture with Cal leading. Armstead has been a beast on the DL in practices. This from 247:
Armstead began to show why he is rated as the nation's top player on Tuesday and he also showed why his desire to play defensive line rather than offensive line shouldn't be met with skepticism.
No player on either team is able to provide such an effortless punch at the point of attack than Armstead, pulling guards were met with a brick wall when they attempted to clear out some space on Armstead's right side of the defensive line of scrimmage. Armstead's play on Tuesday went a long way towards replacing visions of an NFL franchise left tackle with visions of John Henderson.
Ellis McCarthy, DT, Monrovia (Monrovia, CA). Named a top 4 of Cal, USC, Oregon and UCLA...with Cal currently leading. WHAAA?! Is planning to visit Cal and the two LA schools before making a decision. Depsite indications to the contrary recently, I still think USC has to be favored until an official announcement indicating otherwise is made. McCarthy has been dominant in practices thus far. From Monday's Rivals practice report/top performers:
McCarthy was playing end at times on the West defensive line, a tribute to his athleticism despite his amazing defensive tackle physique. He looks like a slightly bigger Sharif Floyd, the five-star who chose Florida down here a few years ago, and there aren't many bigger compliments than that. McCarthy comes off the ball a bit high at times, but he is very explosive, keeps his feet in traffic, has great balance and is overpowering when he plays with leverage. His collision with Jordan Simmons, one of only a handful of players bigger than McCarthy on either squad, was nasty and left Simmons worse for wear.
Jordan Payton, WR Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, CA). Has a top two of Cal and UCLA, with Cal leading ($). Will decide at the game. Good news for us. Payton has had a great week of practice thus far, showing good hands and route running. We could use his size. From yesterday, courtesy of Rivals:
Payton was once again the top receiver for the West squad on the day because he made terrific catches, ran excellent routes and showed off deceptive speed. He has pretty good size, but his balance and ball skills set him apart. He adjusted to poorly thrown balls throughout the day, bailed out his quarterbacks often, and I like the way he used his size and strength to shield defenders at times. Overall, he did everything very well for the second day in a row.
Kevon Seymour, CB Muir (Pasadena, CA). Will announce at the game between Cal, USC, and UCLA. The Trojans are the favorite, but Seymour is being pressured by some of his USAAA Bowl teammates to choose Cal ($). We'll see. After losing Ish Adams to UCLA, Seymour would be a huge get at a position of need. He's widely considered to be the best CB in the West this year. From yesterday:
Seymour had a second straight good day at his position. In ball skill drills, he showed off good leaping ability and caught the ball consistently. In footwork and backpedal drills, he was smooth and effortless. Once again he had quite a few pass breakups and showed that he simply won't bite on fakes or double moves. Seymour is rising in the minds of many through practice going against some good receivers on the West.
Stefon Diggs, ATH, Good Counsel (Olney, MD). Hosted a chat on Rivals, transcript here. Mentioned that he likely won't make a decisiosn until after National Signing Day, so...hang in there. Diggs had a great visit to Cal, but still has not taken additional officials yet. Sounds like the next visits up will be to Auburn and SC. He's being recruited hardest by Cal, SC, Auburn and Florida. At Army Bowl practices, he's been nearly unstoppable:
Diggs is electric with the football in his hands as evidenced by the play of the game for the East offense for the second day in a row. On Tuesday's play, Diggs took a wide receiver screen in the left flat, tried to get the corner and realized that wasn't happening, so he reversed field and then doubled back again as everyone chased the ball. It was essentially a one-yard game but showed his start-stop ability, his elusiveness in space and his ability to keep the play alive. Aside from that play, Diggs was also wide open numerous times throughout the day, beating corners deep and torching safeties in coverage from the slot. He is the most dynamic player on either squad.
Darius Hamilton, DE Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, NJ). Has a top three of Cal, Florida and Rutgers, but is planning an official visit to Miami on January 27. He will also take officials to Florida and Rutgers in the next two weeks. Expects to make a college decision on January 31. His visit to Cal was very good, but a return visit to Florida and the pressure from hometown school Rutgers may be too much for Cal to overcome. As expected, he's been a top performer for the East squad in practices thus far:
Hamilton has the best technique of any defensive lineman by far and used an array of moves to get the job done. He surprised Kyle Kalis with a nice rip-pull move and was also very effective at getting skinny in the hole on stunts. He has violent hands he uses to keep opponents off balance and he is sneaky fast. Despite giving away 60 pounds to most offensive linemen, Hamilton still gets into the backfield and gets a consistent push.
Cedric Dozier, WR (Cal) Lakes (Lakewood, WA). The lone (public) Cal commit arrived late Monday night to San Antonio due to flight issues, but has made an impact quickly in a limited amount of practice time. He caught a TD by beating Shaq in a scrimmage and has shown very good hands and quickness. Expect more glowing reports as the week progresses.
There you have it. Make sure to watch our commits and potential commits shine tomorrow and Saturday. Go Bears!