Cal football 2014 recruiting class overview: Class grades, impact players and sleepers

Cal Bears Online

The class is finalized. The scouting reports are in. Now, let's give out some awards!

First, in case you missed it, here's a mega-post from yesterday, containing some thoughts and scouting on everyone who signed with the Bears.

Overall class grade: Acceptable-

Outstanding, Exceeds Expectations, Acceptable, Poor, Dreadful, Troll

This may not be the popular sentiment, but I still like this bunch, and I like them even though they are far short of what we originally thought we were bringing in. Yes, there were some high profile misses at the last moment, including Nifae Lealao and Marcus Griffin, plus a pair of tough decommitments in Koa Farmer and Jaleel Wadood. Having two or three of them in the fold would have certainly left no room for complaint, and probably pushed this grade up at least a full letter. Even with those losses, though, I've graded this group as a reasonable A-, a good bunch of recruits that, while not as impressive as we would like, is more than fine.

Despite working under the constraints of a 1-11 season, Sonny Dykes was able to bring in a healthy mix of players who should play right away, some longer-term projects, and some highly rated talent to boot. I think every need was addressed in some way, and even those unsatisfactorily addressed ones -- safety and corner -- have viable stopgap solutions, allowing us to keep looking next year. Quite frankly, with the handicap of 1-11 lingering on them -- yes, one of their own doing -- I am a bit impressed that things shook out this well, actually. [I also do not subscribe to the theory that we should automatically be at the top of the list for every elite talent. The program is, realistically, not in that kind of shape. Not yet, anyway.]

A class of similar quality next year will not earn so friendly a mark, but given the almost non-existent momentum around the program currently, I feel like the staff did a passable job. Improvements are, of course, necessary.

Bonus points for flipping Hamilton Anoa'i on Signing Day Eve. That takes some serious skill, no matter how you want to spin it.

Most likely to make an immediate impact:

Darius White and Trevor Kelly, for sure. Not a lot of surprise here, as both will come in at positions where playing time is up for grabs, if not entirely undecided. Plus, being JUCOs, it makes the most sense that they'd be the ones who are closest to playing right away.

The buzz around Darius White is pretty real, and it looks like Cal nailed it with his addition:

Honorable mention: Sam Atoe, Jonathan Johnson, Trevor Davis. So I named two more JUCO players. Sue me.

And yes, Davis counts toward this class, after having sat out last year. He's ready. Believe that.

As far as Enwere and Watson go, I left them off this list because it's hard to tell right now which will end up playing, and it would be a tad foolish, I think, to have both do so. It's not outside of the realm of possibility, but it seems more prudent to play one and redshirt the other, just to stagger things a bit.

Most likely to make a long-term impact:

Luke Rubenzer. This pick comes with a caveat: namely, that he isn't eventually recruited over or passed on the depth charts with the likes of Brady White or Josh Rosen or something. If he sticks and starts, then it's a no-brainer -- there's almost too much to like about the man they call Skywalker, and he plays the most important position. The question is how long he'll sit before seeing the field, because Jared Goff looks like he'll be the man for at least another two years, barring some sort of injury or freak accident.

Honorable mention: Erik Brown. If you're expecting one of the Bryce Treggs//Chris Harper duo to declare after 2014 -- or even both -- then this is one of the guys you'll want to keep your eye on as a potential replacement. To me, he has a lower ceiling than either, and I'm less high on him than the recruiting services are because he's less dynamic after the catch, but Brown should be more than capable of anchoring the passing game for years to come.

Honorable mention: Chandler Leniu. For this last spot, I went with Leniu, who I see as somewhat comparable to Brown -- a very talented player who might not cause a bunch of buzz by himself, but should provide plenty of stability if he works into the starting job. Being able to sit him -- if possible (perhaps less likely now with Forbes gone) -- would be a great luxury, because it would make him a redshirt freshman in 2015, while Hardy Nickerson would be a redshirt junior. That would set up quite nicely in terms of succession.

Biggest sleeper (consensus 3* or less):

Aisea Tongilava - I don't get it. Seriously, I don't. Aisea Tongilava looks far too talented to have just gotten one other major offer, and though his game sense still needs to improve, when he moves at full speed -- playing fast, in Tedford parlance -- he looks the part of someone much more highly rated. If ever he gets that worked out...

Honorable mention: Hamilton Anoa'i.

While it is surprising to me that the staff moved Anoa'i away from offense, he shows plenty of ability as a linebacker, too. Our surprise commitment moves well for someone of his size, plays aggressively, and packs a ton of strength.

Honorable mention: John Porchivina. Like I wrote in his writeup -- I haven't figured out how yet, but I have a feeling he will help this team someday. Somehow. Sonny Dykes calls him underrated, and I do believe that myself.

Honorable mention: Michael Trani & Kamryn Bennett. To be honest, it's pretty damn difficult to project high school lineman, and if anyone knew how to do it accurately, they could probably make quite a fortune. I sure as hell don't, but I'm putting Bennett and Trani here because of the very radical transformations that linemen usually undergo in college, thanks to proper nutrition and weight training. That means that, while nice, stars aren't exactly everything when it comes to this position group. Because of his relative youth, Yenser is as of yet too inexperienced to have a real track record, and his work with these two guys will speak volumes. Check back.

Coolest name:

Chase Forrest. Apologies to Aisea Tongilava, Hamilton Anoa'i, and John Porchivina, but that Chase Forrest is a goddamn comic book character.

The inaugural Avery Sebastian award (Best recruit at recruiting recruits):

Vic Enwere & Luke Rubenzer. Because who else?

[In case you're curious, this award would retroactively go to Bryce Treggs in 2012, and Trey Cheek in 2013.]

Well, that's it from me. Who do you have in each of these categories? Are there other awards you'd like to give out to the guys in the class of 2014? Your turn.

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