Who would you say is the top target on the board for the 2014 recruiting class?
To the surprise of absolutely no one, gotta go with Freedom running back Joe Mixon here. It's not just that he's an elite talent...he certainly is that. He's also a local guy (Oakley), and keeping elite local talent has been a challenge in the past. If the coaching staff is able to keep a kid with 50 scholarship offers at home, it would be a real statement. For one, it would certainly grab the attention of other elite recruits down the line, both local and otherwise. And two, it would be a testament to the fact that this staff instilling a belief in Cal's potential to compete at a much higher level on the field.
Who is the best West Coast prospect in your opinion that Cal has a decent chance of getting?
Um, yeah. Pretty sure this one just got covered. It's Mixon. He's a unique athlete in that he could be a great slot receiver or a devastating safety. I still like him at running back the most, even though he's an upright runner. He's very dynamic for a big back. You want the ball in his hands. He's lit up the camp and 7-on-7 circuit this summer, and he's better in pads when he can be physical in addition to flashy.
What can you tell us about our current commits and how will they fit the current schemes?
Where to begin? I'll start up front with La Mirada OL Michael Trani. He's an intelligent, nasty dude that can play just about anywhere along the line. His combination of athleticism and physicality fits the mold of guys that Yenser and Franklin want: mean enough to rub your face in the turf, and fit enough to do it more than once. Trani's versatility gives Yenser some flexibility with him, but he seems destined for center, where he'll be able to use that big brain of his.
Both Vic Enwere and Tre Watson are one-cut kind of backs who can do well in an offense designed to create holes and running lanes. They're different outside of that one characteristic, and both bring some unique traits to the table (more on that in a bit).
Jalen Harvey is a really physical and athletic receiver. He's quick enough to play the slot and be used in the screen game and big enough to line up outside and out-muscle defensive backs on jump balls and fades. Harvey is one of my favorite wide receiver prospects in this class.
Luke Rubenzer can run this offense, and would bring a different dimension to it thanks to his running ability. More on him later as well.
The three defensive back commits, Koa Farmer, Quentin Tartabull and Jaleel Wadood, are also physical tacklers that can cover some ground. I like Koa as a center-field type safety thanks to his speed and ball skills, but he's big enough to play down in the box right now. Tartabull has never played safety, but he's athletic enough to be capable of the switch. With his athleticism and tackling ability, this is a gamble I'm okay with the staff taking. He looks the part of a strong safety. Wadood is fast and physical, but his ability to cover makes him a candidate to play either safety or cornerback in college. I like him more at corner.
Isadore Outing looks good on paper, but I still have some questions about his ability to produce. More on him later as well.
Running back is our biggest priority in the 2014 cycle on offense. Are you satisfied with the type of players we've gotten our hands on?
I like both Tre Watson and Vic Enwere, probably more than most others do. They're different backs, but it's not as simple as calling Watson a scatback at 5'10/190 and Enwere a power back at 6'1/213. Watson doesn't possess elite speed, but he has great vision, balance, and cutting ability. He can grind for tough yards, and he's pretty damn strong in the lower body. He's much more of a three-down back than a change of pace guy. Enwere is big and strong, but he's also remarkably light on his feet. He can cut and move so well for a big guy, and he's a gliding runner who moves faster than you think he is. I actually think, right now, Watson is the more physical runner. I like the potential of both, and I know the staff does too.
But am I satisfied? Not just yet. I like the guys we have, but closing the running back class with a Joe Mixon or Devante Downs will put this haul where I want it to be.
Which one of the two running backs has a higher ceiling?
That would be Enwere. He's only played one full season as a running back...he's still raw. But he's a big, strong, athletic guy with the feet of a dancer. That's a unique combination. When I watch him, I see a guy who doesn't realize how strong he is though. He almost seems surprised when he trucks someone. Once he gets a better handle on his physical tools and familiarizes himself further with the nuances of the running back position, he'll be something to see. Definitely a higher ceiling just based on his athletic ability though.
Are there any players we know we're recruiting who run the Tony Franklin System at their schools?
Luke Rubenzer and his Saguaro High team will be implementing the Tony Franklin System this coming season, so there's that. As for others, there are lots of teams that use bits and pieces. The Saguaro staff actually went to a clinic though. They'll will put the name on it.
Stay tuned for Part II.