Hey gang. We press on through our position group recruiting previews by taking a look at the 2013 linebacker prospects this week.
In the 2012 recruiting class, we brought in a total of 3 linebacker commits. De La Salle's Mike Barton, who has drawn comparisons to the departed Mychal Kendricks, Bishop O'Dowd's Hardy Nickerson Jr, who looks the part of a run stuffing hammer in the middle, and a late addition in Contra Costa College's Antoine Davis, a 6'5/230 pound rush backer who committed to join the 2012 class just last week. Adding Jones when we did does not appear to bode well for Cecil Whiteside's chances of rejoining the Cal program after being dismissed a few weeks ago. We'll see though.
After the 2012 season, we will lose inside backers JP Hurrell and Robert Mullins to graduation. After the 2013 season, we will lose ILB Steven Fanua and OLB Dan Camporeale. There's also the possibility that OLB Chris McCain would head for the NFL Draft after the 2013 season, assuming he lights it up in the next two seasons (yes please). As of now that's the only attrition I can foresee (Whiteside situations excluded). So with Cal losing just 4-5 linebackers in the next two years, it's interesting to see that Coach Kenwick Thompson has been pretty busy on the recruiting trail.
Below we'll review the linebacker landscape for Cal in 2013; checking in on Cal's current linebacker commit (Mansfield's Chad Whitener), the uncommitted prospects with Cal offers, and a few that Cal is showing an interest in but have yet to offer. Highlights have been linked in the names when available.
Chad Whitener, ILB Mansfield (Mansfield, TX). Whitener committed to Cal a week before he actually had the opportunity to see the campus in person. He then visited Berkeley with his family and participated in the June 3rd camp. The trip appears to have cemented Chad's commitment to Cal. Good thing too, as we're getting a tough and strong tackling machine in the 6'1/235 pounder from Texas. As noted in his commitment post, Whitener had 198 tackles last year. 198 TACKLES. He also has the kind of speed and burst needed to fill a gap or disrupt plays in the backfield. He shows the kind of sideline to sideline pursuit that's unique for a guy his size. I feel very strongly that Cal is getting a very good player who will make a meaningful contribution on the field sooner than later. He is also a great fit as an inside linebacker in our 3-4 defensive front.
Koa Kaleopaa, ILB La Mirada (La MIrada, CA). Kaleopaa is another ideal inside linebacker for Cal's 3-4 defense. At a bruising 6'3/250, he's tremendous against the run and shows his strength when filling (and shooting) gaps. He also has great speed for a big man, demonstrating nice closing speed in pursuit. Cal, Arkansas, and Colorado are the three schools currently recruiting Koa the hardest, but he's got a handful of additional offers and is also hearing from Alabama, Oregon and Miami. As a result, he's not rushing the recruiting process. Koa will be in Atlanta for the Rivals 5-star Challenge this weekend, and I expect his stock to continue to rise. This is a guy I'd love to pair with Chad Whitener in this class.
Michael Hutchings, LB De La Salle (Concord, CA). We've discussed Hutchings quite a bit here, and there's not a whole lot more to be said at this point. He's a great prospect who can play in multiple spots, but would likely be an outside linebacker in Cal's defense. He has nice range and is getting stronger. Hutchings has set his decision date for July 1, and will be choosing between SC, Cal, Washington, and Oregon. We are, at best, a distant second to SC here. I will be shocked if he doesn't pick the Trojans. But it sure would be nice to have him.
Austin Hooper, OLB De La Salle (Concord, CA). Cal offered Hooper back at the first Junior Day and has continued recruiting the 6'4/240 pounder since then. Interest has really picked up on him though, as nine Pac-12 schools have offered along with Northwestern, Boise State, Army, Nevada, Houston, Purdue, San Jose State and Notre Dame. Coach Thompson wants the rangy Hooper as a rush backer, and I think he projects really well there. He already has good size and will continue to bulk up, hopefully without losing much athleticism. With all the interest he's receiving, Hooper seems to want to slow things down and do his due diligence in the recruiting process. I expect us to be in it till the end for him though.
Victor Egu, OLB De La Salle (Concord, CA). Cal offered Egu about 2 and a half weeks ago, just prior to him taking an unofficial up to Washington. Tactical move? Perhaps. We join 6 other Pac-12 programs and other notables like Notre Dame, Northwestern and Nebraska in pursuit of the rangy yet raw Egu. At 6'4/220, Egu has a frame and athleticism that projects him as an outside linebacker in our defense, but other schools see him as a defensive end or even a tight end. While he's only been playing football for 3 years, Egu's ceiling is high. I anticipate him haveing a very good season for the Spartans this fall. With regard to is recruitment, I'm unsure where exactly Cal's stands now that he's received an offer. Egu has a brother who plays at Washington, so my gut says they may be hard to beat. At the same time, Oregon offered him early and clearly likes him a lot. Either way, his recruitment will be one to watch.
Edward Tandy, LB Tustin (Tustin, CA). Cal was the first school to offer the athletic Tandy, but he is also being recruited by USC, Oregon and several other Pac-12 schools. At 6'/220, Tandy could seemingly project to multiple spots. He was offered as a linebacker, but could possibly play strong safety as well. He plays both offense and defense for Tustin, and I like him with the ball in his hands as well. On defense, Tandy shows a good nose for the ball and is instinctive in pursuit. He's not afraid of contact and can lay the wood. This is the kind of under the radar guy I'm really pleased to see Cal pursuing. He's a football player. Our early offer and interest seems to have made quite an impression with Tandy as well. I see more schools offering in the fall, but I hope we ultimately score his commitment. Fun film to watch. He's good!
Torrodney Prevot, OLB Alief Taylor (Houston, TX). Cal hosted Prevot this past weekend for their 3-day camp and he did not disappoint. Ryan Gorcey of Bear Territory reported that Prevot took to Coach Thompson's coaching very well and his athleticsm was evident during the camp. At 6'4/210, this is no surprise. Prevot tallied 14 sacks last season for Alief Taylor and has a tremendous first step. With added bulk, he's a nightmare for an offensive lineman. Prevot also has one of the more impressive offer lists in the country, headlined by Texas, SC, A&M, and LSU. Still, it sounds like Cal made a very favorable impression on him after the visit. The fact that we're recruiting 2013 teammate Trevorris Johnson (RB) and a couple 2014 teammates in Chris Hardeman (DB) and Keenan Brown (WR) can't hurt. While it could ultimately be very tough to beat the in-state schools or neighboring LSU, it speaks volumes about Coach Thompson that a Texas prospect like Prevot is currently holding Cal in such a high regard. Stay tuned on this one. It would be huge.
Sione Sina, OLB College of San Mateo (San Mateo, CA). Sina is a JuCo offeree from nearby College of San Mateo. Capable of playing defensive end or outside linebacker at 6'3/245, he looks like a rush backer to me. Sina is a freakish athlete, with a 40 inch vertical and some quality weight room numbers. He also posted 38 tackles, 8.5 for-loss, and 6 sacks in his freshman season for CSM, a testament to the fact this speed and athleticism does translate to his play on the field. He's a disruptive force and a hard matchup for most linemen. Cal offered a while ago, and has maintained contact with Sina. He also holds offers from BYU, Hawaii, Kansas, Oregon State, Wazzu, Texas Tech, Purdue, Pittsburgh and Maryland. As of a couple weeks ago, Sina stated he was being recruited the hardest by BYU, Oregon State, and Kansas. CSM seems to churn out quality talent every year, and Sina looks as good as any recent prospect of theirs to me. He would be a Spring enrollee at his college of choice, so a decision in the late fall or early winter is likely. Feels like we'd have to ramp up our efforts to land Sina, and we may be pursuing others ahead of him right now.
Jordan Sherit, OLB Hillsborough (Tampa, FL). Cal is one offer amongst 30+ for Tampa Hillsborough's Jordan Sherit, a 6'3/245 pound DE/OLB. Sherit tallied 110 tackles and 9 sacks last year, and displays a good burst, nice speed and a high motor in the field. I'm actually not sure about exactly where Cal wants him to play as he's being recruited primarily by Coach Howard right now. My thought was that he'd be too small to play DE for us, but maybe I'm wrong. Either way, Sherit is an elite prospect on the other side of the country, who is in high demand. With so many offers at his disposal and in-state Florida hard after him, Sherit appears to be a longshot until a visit out to Berkeley comes together. This just doesn't feel likely to me at this point.
Kanyia Anderson, OLB Oscar Smith (Chesapeke, VA). Cal was the first FBS program to offer the 6'3/215 pound Anderson, but many other programs have begun showing interest. Anderson's eye-opening 22 sacks last season (his first year on defense after converting from WR) probably had a lot to do with that. Anderson still only holds offers from Cal, Old Dominion and James Madison, but is hearing from some ACC programs and recently stated that he's favoring Maryland and Duke...even though neither program has offered yet. WELP. Doesn't really seem that Anderson has much of a plan as of now in his recruitment, and he has yet to state whether he plans to visit Cal. I can only assume distance is a factor and that he's not interested in leaving ACC country. Until something changes, we don't appear to be a factor here. Moving on.
Peter Kalambayi, ILB Butler (Matthews, NC). Cal had previously been included in the 6'3/235 pound Kalambayi's top 5 schools, joining Stanford, Oregon, Virginia, and North Carolina. It appears we may have lost some ground recently as Kalambayi has stated he favors Stanford, Oregon and Virginia at this juncture. He'll be visiting Palo Alto this weekend and it looks like Furd could be the favorite if the visit goes well. It would be nice if Kalambayi made a trip over to Berkeley while in the Bay. If he doesn't, it certainly doesn't appear we'll factor into his recruitment going forward. Too bad, as Kalambayi looks to be one of the more college-ready ILB prospects in the country as of now. He plays physical and has good speed and instincts. We'll see.
Myles Jack, OLB Bellevue (Bellevue, WA). Jack is a versatile athlete, using his speed and power both as a linebacker and as a standout running back. He's being recruited at both positions, but Cal is recruting him as an outside linebacker. I like him on defense too, he's quite a terror. We offered a couple months back, and about half the Pac-12 has done the same. Jack is a Georgia native, so the Georgia schools and SEC also hold some allure for him. Despite that, Jack will be making his college announcement TODAY at 1pm, and will choose between Cal, UCLA and Georgia Tech. This is new news, but there had been rumors for a couple weeks that Jack was favoring the Bruins. As a result, all indications point to a UCLA commitment being highly likely. Cool that we're a finalist, but don't expect much more than that. You are free to revel in the fact that Washington is not a finalist, despite Bellevue being right in the Huskies' back yard and Jack's teammate Sean Constantine having already committed there. So...yay? If Jack somehow picks Cal today, that would be swell. Don't count on it though.
Mike Mitchell, OLB Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, TX). I've only seen one recruiting site report Mitchell as having a Cal offer, so I don't know if it's legit. That said, I include him here because if he doesn't have an offer, he bloody well should. Mitchell is an athletic freak at 6'4/215. He can play outside or inside linebacker, and is also capable of playing with his hand on the ground. He had 151 tackles (!!!) and 11 sacks last season for Plano West, and will be playing his senior season for PCA with buddy Christian Morgan. Mitchell is ridiculously fast for a guy his size and an incredible athlete. His film shows a guy who can chase down a running back with a 20 yard head start, or crush a quarterback on a blitz. Mitchell has a ton of offers, and the Florida transplant seems to be favoring Florida State and Ohio State, with schools like A&M, TCU, Baylor and Oregon just behind. There was at least one quote of Cal pursuing Mitchell, but I have a feeling we aren't a factor at this point. He was worth including here just so you guys can watch his highlights though. WOW!
ON THE RADAR
Kevin Palma, OLB Mission Oaks (Tulare, CA). Palma's stock blew up after a dominant MVP performance at the Oakland NFTC. UCLA was the first to offer shortly after, followed by offers from Colorado, CSU, Oregon State, San Diego State, Nevada, and others. Palma currently has a top 4 of UCLA, Oregon State, Colorado and San Diego State. Cal was showing some interest after Palma's NFTC performance, but I have yet to hear if they are planning to offer or even still pursuing him. It would be a shame not to, as Palma showed the kind of power and speed in passrushing drills that made him nearly unblockable. At 6'3/235, he has a powerful build and is a good athlete. He had 71 tackles last season for Mission Oaks, and added 600 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as a tight end. He's worth including here in my opinion, and good enough to merit an offer too.
David Moffitt, LB/S De La Salle (Concord, CA). Capable of playing safety or linebacker in college, Moffitt is the fourth piece of an impressive quartet of FBS defensive prospects for the Spartans. At 6'2/210, he's an instinctive player who shows nice skills both in coverage and pursuit. Moffitt currently holds offers From Arizona, Colorado, Wazzu and UNLV. There is some mutual interest between Cal and Moffitt, but I don't know how serious it is at this point. It will be worth paying attention to Moffitt's play and his recruitment this fall.
Beau Hershberger, ILB Granite Bay (Granite Bay, CA). the 6'2/225 pound Hershberger first started garnering attention at the National Underclassmen Combine back in April, then built on that with a very nice performance at the Nike NFTC in Oakland. He also attended Cal's camp at the beginning of the month and showed well. Surprisingly, Hershberger has yet to get a single offer but he is getting some attention from Oregon State, Yale and a bit from Cal. He possesses a strong frame and moves suprisingly well in coverage. He also plays some rugby, which naturally means he's awesome. Keep an eye on this local product.
Takkarist McKinley, OLB Kennedy (Richmond, CA). McKinley was another guy mentioned by Bear Territory's Ryan Gorcey as having really shown out at Cal's 3-day camp last weekend. At 6'3/240 with some serious speed (10.7 100m in the state track championships) McKinley could be a serious weapon at rush backer. Cal is taking a gard look, as are Oregon, UCLA, and Washington. Sounds like McKinley has some academic issues that are currently holding him back from grabbing an offer at this point. Should he bring his grades up, it seems a flood of offers could come his way. As a local kid from Kennedy in Richmond, pay attention to McKinley in the fall.
Consider this your primer for linebacker recruiting in 2013, with the caveat that new faces and offers will always show up later in the cycle. As you can see, we've offered quite a few already when you factor in DE's that project as rush backers like Sherit and Prevot. I find this interesting because I didn't really think we'd be looking to take a too many linebackers this year. As I laid out above, we're pretty young at the position and won't face too much anticipated attrition in the next couple years. We just brought in 3 linebackers in 2012, and brought in 6 in the 2011 class (Scarlett, Gibson, Jalen Jefferson, Nathan Broussard, McCain and Whiteside). But we do run a 3-4 defense. We need more linebackers on the field, and against high-powered offenses like Oregon, we need quality depth to maintain fresh legs.
So my guess is we take 3-4 linebackers in 2013; Whitener and another inside backer (Koa?), along with two outside/rush backers. I think a grouping of Whitener, Koa, Hooper and Tandy is very attainable and would be really nice. A guy like Prevot would be gravy.
What are your thoughts on linebacker recruiting this year? Who do you like? Did I leave anyone out? Can I borrow a feeling? Share some in the comments please.