What are your thoughts on Matt Anderson?
I was very surprised by how out-of-sorts Anderson looked during the spring. This is a kid who kicked through a gnarly bruise deep in his quad throughout the All-Star season in the winter, and has hit 50-yarders in games and a pair of bombs -- 58-yarder and a 62-yarder - at the Cal camp a year ago, so he's got plenty of leg, but he was very uneven during the spring. The good thing for the Bears is that they have Vince D'Amato returning as the starter, who can give Anderson a year to work out whatever kinks he had, maybe due to lingering effects of that injury he sustained in the final game of his senior season, when he got a helmet to the quad. He's a tough, smart kid who I think will develop into a fine collegiate kicker. He has a nice, repeatable motion with a smooth swing and great flexibility. He's not the biggest guy out there, even among kickers, but he's very athletic and, to borrow a phrase from The Replacements, he's "wirey."
Looking ahead to 2014, who are the biggest prospects that Cal should be after?
Now that we're halfway through this recruiting cycle, we can see the needs with a bit more clarity. Cal needed to restock the running back corps and the defensive backfield, so the top targets should be Joe Mixon (more on that later), John Plattenburg (very, very possible he comes out with a choice at The Opening or soon thereafter), Adarius Pickett and Naijiel Hale. With one DB (Koa Farmer) and two running backs (Tre Watson and Vic Enwere) in the barn already (though UCLA and BYU are coming very hard after the Corona Centennial back), even if Cal can't wrangle Mixon (and they would still like to, make no mistake about that) the Bears are still in good position with D.J. Calhoun, Pickett and Michael Lazarus. Although the Bears don't really need more than one linebacker (Calhoun, Chandler Leniu, Brandon Lee, Joey Alfieri and Ricky Liuchan are the main candidates there), they'll take Lazarus if it meant getting Mixon and the others, but they would have to commit before Lazarus. Cal could also take up to three running backs (making room for both Mixon or others, meaning that up to eight of the 15-17 spots available are going to either running backs or defensive backs. Luckily, this year's crop of both positions is quite deep.
What are the biggest needs for Cal in the 2014 recruiting class?
Kind of answered this one in the previous answer, but I don't think it can be understated: Cal needs defensive backs. To drive that home, the 2013 secondary will be very, very thin behind expected starting corners Kameron Jackson and Stefan McClure, with Adrian Lee and Isaac Lapite having a combined 14 games and one start between them. Behind expected starting safeties Avery Sebastian and Alex Logan, backups Damariay Drew and Michael Lowe have a combined 12 games and no starts.
As for the other need - running back - Cal's going to have a fairly strong trio of Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Khalfani Muhammad, but as we saw during the spring, beyond that top group, the cupboard is just about bare. Depending on what happens with Bigelow, draft-wise (and that will all depend on his season, of course), the Bears will be OK in the backfield in 2014, with Muhammad and Lasco, but behind them, there won't be much depth. Tre Watson is a Swiss army knife of a tailback, and after Cal landed well-rounded big back Vic Enwere out of Texas to provide a complimentary skill set, it would seem that the Bears are just about done at running back. Just about. Given some roster attrition, we could see Cal take a third receiver or a third running back, but I think a third receiver is the more likely scenario. For the Bears to take a third running back, it would have to be one of three (and that's not counting Charles Sims, the transfer from Houston, who doesn't look like an option from Cal's point of view), with the chief among those being Joe Mixon. Basically, they're only going to take another back if it's a big-splash guy.
Don't forget, with the return of the name BearTerritory.net to its rightful owner this past week, we're running a special promo: Get 2 months free (to get you to the football season!) when you buy a full year-long subscription, using the code: BEARTERRITORY.