Howdy friends. We continue our quest deep into the heart of the 2013 Cal football recruiting landscape this week. Previously, we've looked at wide receiver, running back and tight end recruiting. Today we'll stay on the offensive side of the ball and preview the big uglies. Oh yes, it's time to look at the offensive line targets.
In 2012, we brought in four promising offensive line commits: early enrollee Christian Okafor (OT), Freddie Tagaloa (OT), Steven Moore (OT/OG), and Matt Cochran (C). After this coming season, we will lose seniors Matt Summers-Gavin, Brian Schwenke, Dom Galas, and Tyler Rigsbee. That's four likely starters. There's always the possibility of additional attrition as well. Unlike other position groups where it can be very clear-cut in terms of placing a number on the commits we "need", I find that quality depth matters most on the offensive line, and there's not really any such thing as having an over-abundance of nasty, large men who push people around. IT's also a very difficult position to evaluate, so a couple "misses" or guys that don't pan out can have a serious impact to depth. We should take a bare minimum of four commits in 2013, and I'd be even more comfortable with five. There's no such thing as too many is my point.
Below we'll look at the targets that Cal has extended offers too, as well as a couple that are being recruited but have yet to be offered. As a reminder, we are only previewing uncommitted prospects. Highlights are linked on each dude's name. Read on, por favor.
Aaron Cochran OT, Buhach Colony (Atwater, CA). Hopefully we're all pretty familiar with Aaron at this point. He's been working hard to get his weight down after a couple of injuries and has dropped about 25 pounds. That puts him somewhere in the 330 range, and at 6'7, that qualifies you as an earth-shaker. Since we last checked on Aaron, he's added offers from Fresno State, Utah State, Oklahoma and Nebraska. That brings his offer total to around 15. He's hit the camp circuit and continued to work on his game. As you would expect based on Buhach's run-heavy offense, Aaron is a punishing run blocker but does struggle with speed rushers in pass protection. That said, he's still working to get back to full strength. A healthy senior season should see him continue to get a lot of attention. Still feeling good about where we sit with him.
Nico Falah, OT St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA). With over 20 offers already, Nico Falah is the most sought-after offensive line recruit in the state. It's not hard to see why, as he has the length, athleticism, size and attitude to be a great left tackle at the next level. At 6'5/275 and the body to comfortably add another 20+ pounds, Falah moves very well and has the strength and nastiness to finish his blocks. Bosco also runs a pro-style offense, which means his game will translate well to college programs who run similar offense. He's visited Cal before, and likes us a lot. Falah announced a top 5 this week of Cal, SC, UCLA, Oregon and Oklahoma. Gut says that the LA schools and Oregon may be in front of us, but you never know. He's also hinted that he may not wait out the process and could commit somewhere earlier. Keep an eye on his recruitment and hope that he makes a return trip to Berkeley over the summer. We could be a serious factor here.
Kenny Lacy, OL Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, AZ). After pulling in over 30 offers, Lacy recently pared his list to ten schools...with Cal making the cut. Kenny Lacy is, in his own, words "not one of those big, fat lineman". At a lean, long, and athletic 6'6/270, Lacy would be an ideal left tackle candidate if he can continue to pack on good weight without compromising his superior athleticism. Cal extended an offer back in early March, and Lacy had planned to take an unofficial visit to the campus while being in Oakland for the NFTC, but he ended up not making it out for the camp. Clearly the interest is still there as Lacy still plans to visit Cal before his next round of cuts. There's a lot to like about Lacy's body type and ability, which is why he's such a nationally acclaimed guy. He's quicker than the the bulk of most tackle prospects, and his experience playing as a defensive end shows he's got that coveted aggression that's often lacking in offensive linemen. Still a long way to go. Let's hope that visit happens and that the Bay Area resonates with Lacy.
Reeve Koehler, OL St. Louis (Honolulu, HI). One of the top offensive guard prospects in the country, Koehler was offered by Cal three weeks ago. FINALLY. Koehler has the strength and base to be an asset to any team. At 6'3 and around 295, he has a frame that can add weight and he's already plenty strong. He just crushes people once he gets his mitts on them. He currently has nine offers; from ASU, both Washington schools, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Utah, and in-state Hawaii. That number will grow, as Koehler plans to attend Tennessee's Big Man Camp and may also camp at Alabama. Notre Dame is also showing a lot of interest. He doesn't plan to commit any time soon, but his top 5 schools will likely be the ones that he takes official visits to. Oregon is hard after him, but Koehler had good things to say about Cal after we offered. Stay tuned on whether we make the cut for an official visit. This guy is one that I'd love to have in the fold.
Riley Sorenson, OL Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA). Cal offered big Riley Sorenson last week, joining the Washington schools, Colorado, SMU and San Diego State on his offer list. Santa Margarita is a team of absolute hogs; a couple of Sorenson's Santa Margarita linemates, center Dane Crane and tackle Erik Bunte, have already committed to Pac-12 schools (Washington and UCLA), and last year also featured SC commit Max Tuerk. Worth noting Sorenson's teammate and safety Connor O'Brien is also committed to the Huskies, along with Crane. That said, there's been little indication that Sorenson favors any one school as of now. Perhaps the Cal offer will give him something more to think about. A commitment will likely happen by the end of the summer. While he has great size, the mobility is lacking a bit which makes me see Sorenson as more of a guard than a true tackle. Once he gets his hands on defenders though, he absolutely mauls them.
Chris Borrayo, OT Paramount (Paramount, CA). Cal was the first school to offer Paramount's Borrayo, but he has since added offers from Washington, Wazzu, Colorado and Nevada. At 6'5/290 with a great wingspan, Borrayo could play either tackle or guard. He also sports some good grades, which is cool. Borrayo was supposed to attend the SoCal Showcase Rivals camp last weekend, but I haven't seen anything about his performance as of yet. He's also given very little indication of where he's leaning thus far in his recruitment...stating that he plans to take visits and wait until the last minute to make a commitment. His highlights show a guy who's the biggest on the field and can run block effectively, but I'd like to see how he does in pass protection. Not much here to report, other than its worth trusting Coach M when it comes to evaluating o-line targets.
JD Hinnant, OT Fountain Valley (Fountain Valley, CA). Hinnant is an athletic lineman who's a bit light at 6'5/260. Of course, he's also just concluding his junior year of high school so I'm not too worried about the weight factor. Sitting at eleven offers as of now, including ones from Nebraska, Oregon, Cal, and Washington, that list will grow even more with interest from SC and Utah being reported. He plays on both sides of the ball for Fountain Valley, but most teams see his future as an offensive tackle or guard. He has excellent lateral mobility and footwork. Those could be maintained with added weight as well. He finishes his blocks and has the appropriate mean streak necessary to excel in the trenches. Like a lot of these guys, Hinnant doesn't give many indications of who he favors as of now, but he seems like an Oregon lean to me. Don't think he's visited Cal yet, but he has stated that he plans to.
Sean Harlow, OL San Clemente (San Clemente, CA). Harlow is a versatile OL prospect who likely projects as a guard at the collegiate level once he's added some weight to his frame. He's played right tackle, both guard spots, and center at various times in his past two years as a starter for San Clemente. He has a frame that, with maturation, should see him add a lot more muscle. That will allow him to dominate a bit more at the point of attack. He plays with light feet and good hands, and still gets really good drive on his blocks, finishing them whenever possible. Harlow is at 16 offers now, with UCLA and Wisconsin being the latest to make the call. A commitment late in the summer or early fall would be likely, with a couple months heavy on visits setting the table for that scenario. Sean has yet to visit Cal, but has at least indicated that he would like to do so at some point. Until something is set, I wouldn't hold my breath on this one. Always worth keeping in mind that as an SC legacy, the Trojan offer would probably seal the deal. Doubt it comes with the reduced schollie limitations though.
Scott Quessenberry, OL La Costa Canyon (Encinitas, CA). Cal extended an offer to La Costa's Quessenberry two weeks ago, and already may have some ground to make up. Quessenberry recently named a top 4 of Oregon, UCLA, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, and has 15 total offers with the latest coming from Cal, Utah and Arkansas. Utah and Washigton may be next. At 6'4/265, Quessenberry looks like a guard or center candidate to me. Like Hinnant, he currently plays both offense and defense. He plays with power and intensity, and is pretty relentless with his blocks. The nastiness is always fun to see. As of yet, there's been no word of a visit or where Cal factors into Quessenberry's plans. Personally, I don't think we are a factor right now.
Cameron Hunt, OL Centennial (Corona, CA). Cal offered the 6'5/270 pound Hunt after he earned Offensive Line MVP honors at the Oakland NFTC Camp two weeks ago. At that camp, he displayed great hands, balance, and seldom got pushed back on his heels. With his length and build, he looks like a very promising tackle prospect to me. With twelve offers as of now, Hunt has said Cal is a slight favorite, just ahead of Boise State and ASU. That's due to a great relationship with Coach M, which is always nice to hear. Utah, Colorado and Oregon State are also under consideration. Bad news? Hunt has stated that he's basically waiting to see where he factors into the plans of SC, UCLA, and Stanford. Sounds a little like we're a consolation leader right now, but I don't think that's really the case. Still, depending on whether those schools offer, slow play, or just ignore Hunt, the fact that he likes Cal and likes Coach M should see us remain a factor. He'll attend the team camps for SC, UCLA, and Stanford, and things should become clearer later in the summer. Hunt is a guy who is on the rise and would be a great get. Centennial runs a very disciplined spread passing attack, and have churned out some quality linemen in the past. Hunt has the size and nastiness to be a good one.
Desmond Harrison, OT Contra Costa College (San Pablo, CA). The 6'8/320 pound monster Harrison was offered by Coach M last week. Cal is Harrison's 13th offer, joining programs like ASU, Arkansas, Boise State, Washington, Texas Tech and NC State. Harrison has actually lost about 20 pounds, making him more mobile. He's a very raw prospect, only playing a couple seasons of organized football due to his family moving arouynd during his high school years. He's plus athlete though, having focused on basketball during the years away from the football field. If he can maintain a good weight, he has the size, length and feet to be a very nice right tackle prospect. Hard to say where Cal fits in to Harrison's recruitment since he's not a Bay Area native despite being right over in San Pablo at Contra Costa College, but proximity should work in our favor. He's also familiar with our North Carolina contingent from his high school days in North Carolina. So that's cool.
ON THE RADAR
Robert McGee, C Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, CA). McGee was looking like one of Cal's potential key targets as an interior OL, possibly even center, after attending our first Junior Day. We had continued to recruit him, but now news has come out that McGee won't be playing his senior season for SoCal powerhouse Oaks Christian because his family is moving to Alabama. What this means for his recruitment, I cannot say. Pior to the move, McGee was hearing from Cal, Colorado, and Washington, primarily. Whether the move to SEC country brings new programs into the picture or forces those Pac-12 programs to look elswhere remians to be seen. As I've said before, McGee's size and strength reminds me of Matt Cochran. We'll see if Cal continues to pursue him and how he perfroms at his new school.
Travis Fister, OG Salpointe (Tucson, AZ). Fister attended the second Junior Day and Spring Game back in April. He has not received a Cal offer yet, but does hold offers from SMU, Cornell, Navy and South Dakota State. Fister's a versatile guy, who at 6'3/270 has very little bad body weight and is plenty strong. He's very technically sound and has great striking when he engages a defender. He was a top performer at the SoCal National Underclassmen Combine back in April, and Cal has been in communication with him, along with schools like ASU, Kansas State, and Oregon State who have also not yet offered. He's favoring SMU after a recent visit and the commitment of a teammate to the Mustangs, but a Cal offer would likely shake things up. The key with Fister will be adding good weight and muscle mass without compromising his athleticism...which is something common for a lot of high school linemen. Good player.
So there's your starter kit for offensive line targets in 2013. Expect a number of late bloomers or additional JuCo targets to pop up on the radar in the fall once the season is under way. It's always fun to see who those guys are.
Also, it's worth noting that 2012 held an unusually high number of elite West Coast offensive linemen. That kind of depth and talent was a bit of an anomaly; it's rare to have 8-10 guys in a region that are all capable of stepping in and making a potential impact earlier for their chosen teams. 2013 does not have that kind of quality depth. Does that mean there aren't some very good prospects on Cal's radar? Absolutely not, as you can hopefully see. This year just happens to be more typical in terms of guys still needed some development and being works in progress for the most part. There are still some very good players available, and I hope we get our share.
As I said earlier, I'm hoping that Cal pulls in at least 4 offensive linemen in this class. I'd be happy with 3 from this list (2 tackles preferably), and another guy who pops up in the fall. 5 would be awesome.
Anybody I neglected to include? Who do you want? Please share your thoughts, and always let the comments be your guide.