Pretty good stretch for our Bears last week. starting with the commitment of big Buhach Colony center Matt Cochran on Tuesday at the Semper Fi Bowl, good peformances by Zach Kline and Darius Powe at the Under Armour Game on Thursday night, and concluding with the big haul on Saturday. What do the next couple weeks look like? Fair to say we've got some serious momentum, so let's take a look at some of the new tidbits concerning Cal's recruiting commits and targets.
Where else would I start? We've got some new commits, and they're big-time. Cochran has gotten some good coverage at CGB already, so this concerns the big three from San Antonio:
Jordan Payton, WR (Cal) Oaks Christian (Westlake, CA). Committed to Cal over UCLA and Notre Dame on Saturday. Great get. Payton is a big guy with nice hands. He had a very good week of practice at the USAAA Game and has a chance to earn PT as soon as he sets foot on campus. Apparently has been working on other uncommitted prospects to consider the Bears as well. Much obliged, Jordan!
Ryan Gorcey at Bear Territory provided this video of some Payton highlights from the week in San Antonio:
Ellis McCarthy, DT (Cal) Monrovia (Monrovia, CA). Committed to Cal over USC, UCLA and Oregon on Saturday. Huge get. HUGE. Ellis was a guy that many of us (including myself), just didn't see Cal beating out SC for. It's a testament to the coaching staff (TOSH) and the members of this current class that we were able to get a commitment from the big man. The addition of McCarthy could be a sign of future commitments from fellow D-Line monsters Aziz Shittu and Arik Armstead. That'd be neat. This battle may not be over though as SC will continue to come after McCarthy full bore in an effort to flip him. UCLA may play some sort of a factor as well, as McCarthy is still expected to take some visits.
Shaq Thomson, S (Cal) Grant (Sacramento, CA). Committed to Cal over Washington and Notre Dame on Saturday. In a class full of awesome, shiny things, Shaq is really the crown jewel (with all due respect to amazing players and recruiters like Kline and Treggs). If you watched the USAAA Game on Saturday, it didn't take long to see just what he's bringing to the table: a rare blend of speed and athleticism in a man-sized body. He'll start from the minute he's on campus. All accounts suggest he's been a lead recruiter for the Bears thus far, and expect that to continue in the next few weeks. Shaq's importance to this class and potentially this program cannot be overstated.
Postgame with Shaq and Cedric Dozier, courtesy of Ryan Gorcey once again:
Here's a quick recap of how our two Cal commits performed at the Under Armour All-American Bowl in Florida last Thursday:
Zach Kline, QB (Cal) San Ramon Valley (San Ramon, CA). Went 5-10 for 78 yards , including a nice 32 yard TD to FSU commit Marvin Bracy. Bracy made a nice adjustment, but the pass was still pretty IMO... /homer. Kline was sacked 5 times, which illustrates just how dominat the defensive lines were in this game. Still, Zach had a tremendous week of practice and showed the kind of poise in the pocket that we haven't seen around these parts in a while. He's enrolling next week. Count it!
Darius Powe, WR (Cal) Lakewood (Lakewood, CA). Had 3 receptions for 37 yards in the game. He impressed many with his hands and route-running, and had a really strong week of practice as well. Along with Jordan Payton, Darius will add a nice big target for the Cal QB's to work with. Rivals had this to say about Mr. Powe:
Powe is a great target at 6-foot-2 with good arm length, but his ability to run crisp routes and create separation is what makes him a Rivals250-caliber wide receiver. He does a good job of getting in and out of his cuts and quickly accelerating. He was consistently on the same page with his quarterbacks throughout the week.
Here are some nice highlights of our guys. Way to go, future bears!
Now on to some of the key targets who may have decisions coming soon:
Arik Armstead, DE Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove, CA). The big fella tweeted over the weekend that a decision could come this week. Since Arik has opted to be an early enrollee to his school of choice and Cal starts the Spring Semester on Tuesday...that's good (even though Notre Dame starts the same day I believe...NO JUDGING!). He was hearing from the Cal guys heavily throughout the week in San Antonio. When a decision comes, I think we'll be his choice. The sooner the better!
DJ Foster, RB Saguaro (Scottsdale, AZ). Visiting USC this weekend. Its believed that Foster may make his decision following this weekend's trip to LA. Unless he is completely wowed (not out of the realm of possibility), I expect him to be a Bear. Stay tuned for updates on Foster following this weekend. He's a tremendous athlete and could play in the backfield or in the slot. He has awesome kick returning abilities as well. Ron Gould could do great things with Foster.
Christo Kourtzidis, TE (Florida State) Lutheran (Orange, CA). We covered CK last week, but the belief is that he'll decide early next week if he'll stick with his commitment to Florida State or flip to Cal. He's visiting Tallahassee this weekend with a bunch of other highly sought after recruits. Hopefully he gets food poisoning from eating undercooked alligator or something. We could use him.
Oh, and speaking of the Noles...
Ukeme (Markuss) Eligwe, LB (Florida State) Stone Mountain (Stone Mountain, GA). The Florida State commit announced that he will be visiting Cal on January 20 ($). Rivals ranks Eligwe as the nation's #1 OLB, and considering current LB commits Michael Barton and Hardy Nickerson project to play inside at the college level, we could use a physical force like Eligwe on the outside. He'll be visiting Florida State this week (with Kourtzidis and numerous other prospects), so hopefully we can wow him. Another Tosh Lupoi special.
And another new visitor from SEC country?
Trae Elston, CB Oxford (Oxford, AL). Is expected to visit Cal on January 25 ($). Currently lists his leader as Oklahoma State, and could very well commit to the Cowboys on his visit there. Still, we could have a shot at Elston. Considering we haven't had a ton of luck in our CB recruiting thus far, an opportunity is there. Elston has nice length and range and could be a nice pull. The Tosh influence is all over this one too.
Did the commitment of Jordan Payton scare off a potential WR recruit?
Kenny Lawler, WR Upland (Upland, CA). Named a new top three of Oklahoma State, Oregon State, and Washington State ($). Looks like we could be out, and based on twitter comments made by Lawler it would seem that our stable of 6 WR commits may be the reason. Lawler is a great athlete, and I don't think its unreasonable for a recruit to consider other options based on the quantity and quality of our current commits. There will be competition, oh yes. Good luck to him if does end up elsewhere.
As for some updates on local talent- here's something on a guy on the national stage, a guy whose flown under the radar this year, and a local Cal commit who may be having a look around:
Aziz Shittu, DT Buhach Colony (Atwater, CA). Is going to take visits to Stanford, USC and UCLA before making his college decision close to Signing Day. Aziz had previously indicated that he'd like to play with Ellis McCarthy and Arik Armstead. Should Armstead follow McCarthy and commit to Cal, you'd have to like the Bears' chances of landing the 5-star d-lineman. Rivals had some nice love for Aziz after his performance during the USAA Game practice week, as he was listed among the West's Top Performers:
Though listed as a defensive tackle, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound defender really excelled when lined up at defensive end all week. Shittu was able to come from the backside to make several big plays in practice and was simply too quick off the edge for the tackle to stop in pass protection. He had a quiet game playing mostly on the interior of the line but if he has a chance to line up outside at the next level he will be tough for any college lineman to block.
Damariay Drew, ATH Livermore (Livermore, CA). Was offered by Cal (and may have committed?) ($). Unrated and unnoticed by the main recruiting services this year, Drew had a tremendous season for an otherwise lousy Livermore HS team in the tough EBAL. He garnered praise from opposing players and coaches alike, and seems to be a guy who could do it all. Drew is getting interest from Oregon and Washington, but only previously held offers from Nevada and Fresno State. Cal could be getting a really nice player should Drew choose to officially commit to the Bears. Behold, THE STATS:
Drew -- a two-time all-EBAL selection -- rushed for 1,291 yards and 17 touchdowns last season on 157 carries, caught five passes for 69 yards, recorded a team-best 79 tackles, registered three sacks, had one interception, caused two fumbles and returned nine kickoffs for an average of 27.67 yards.
Kenny Walker, WR (Cal) Kennedy (Richmond, CA). Will officially visit UCLA later this month. Also indicated he still may have interest in Washington and Boise State. Based on quotes, it seems Kenny is just ensuring he has options available should the Cal WR class get a little too full (6 commits thus far). Playing on a mediocre Kennedy squad, Walker still managed to shine. He's a smart kid from a local school. Hopefully the Cal staff can assure Kenny of his place in the class and remind him that Cal is the right place to be. This is the first guy to seemingly waver a bit on his commitment, so this situation will be worth monitoring as we get closer to Signing Day. Similar to Kenny Lawler, but I sure hope we can hold onto Kenny W.
There you have it. Thoughts? Feelings?