The Cal football staff got some very welcome news on Monday morning when Foothill (Pleasanton, CA) tight end Ray Hudson verbally committed to Coach Tedford after a weekend visit to Cal with his parents. If you guys have been paying attention to my recruiting posts (or tweets) this Spring, you know that I wanted Hudson and that I'm pretty happy about this commitment. Hudson helps to fill a major need in this year's class (TE) and brings a unique skill set to the table. He has size, strength, speed and versatility. What he doesn't have, and this is the main reason he was a virtual unknown to most of the recruiting services prior to his camp performances this Spring, is any significant experience playing tight end. This matters very little to me, for the record. Richard Rodgers, the sophomore TE we're expecting big things from this season, was a WR in high school and about the same size Hudson is now.
In 2011, Hudson earned all-EBAL honors as a wide receiver for the Falcons after hauling in 47 receptions for 578 yards and 5 touchdowns, an effort that also earned him Offensive MVP for his Foothill squad. He also had 75 tackles and 5 interceptions as an outside linebacker. Not too shabby. He accomplished all of this as a 6'3/215 pounder. He's now 6'4/235, with a frame that can hold a good 15 pounds more muscle. And he's retained his athleticism with the additional weight, posting a Nike SPARQ rating of 101.43 at the Eugene NFTC Camp (where he also was named WR/TE MVP). YES PLEASE. Here's a quick interview with Ray from that same NFTC Camp:
There is a school that wants Ray. A local one, as a matter of fact. After the jump, we'll looks at Ray's measurables, recruit rankings (or lack thereof.../MDWM), highlight videos with some analysis and thoughts, and tidbits from other commitment posts.
Welcome to Cal, Ray. Go Bears!
MEASURABLES AND RANKINGS
Cal was the first program to offer Ray a scholarship, but San Diego State also offered last week. He was also receiving interest from Vanderbilt, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington.
Below are Hudson's 2011 offensive highlights, along with a few blocking clips of him lined up both out wide and in tight as an H-Back.
Here are clips of a beefed-up Hudson taking reps and running routes at the Cal camp a few weeks back. Thanks to Bear Territory's Ryan Gorcey for the video:
ANALYSIS AND THOUGHTS
As I mentioned before the jump, the challenge in reviewing Hudson's tape is that there are no real clips where he's actually lined up as a tight end. Yes, we do see him in a three-point stance as an H-back a few times at the beginning of the first video, but it's a pretty small sample size. Thus, there is a large component of his game that is a relative unknown. We do see some run blocking, which I'm glad of. Hudson clearly has the aggression and phyciality down, but he doesn't show much knee bend and is typically pushing around smaller linebackers and DB's. Can he move a 260 pound defensive end? Can he pass block, if needed? How will he fare with his hand on the ground, lined up off tackle? These are questions that can't be answered with any true certainty, since there is such a limited sample size for us to review. With that said, Hudson's ability to block and play with his hand on the ground is exactly what the coaching staff wanted to see more of prior to extending him an offer. After Cal's full-contact team camp, he got an offer. Evidently, he showed them enough. There is comfort in that. I also feel that the technical aspects Hudson is less experienced with can be taught with relative ease. This is not to say that it's easy, because it's not. I just feel that Hudson is the kind of player who will take that coaching and work hard at it. By all accounts, he's a blue-collar dude who will grind. That cannot be taught. He's also a gym rat, and a little bit of Blasquezing will provide the additional leg strength to give him more knee bend when blocking.
What is on full display in the tape is Hudson't great hands. Both in his highlights from the 2011 Foothill season and in the Cal camp video above, Hudson displays an ability to catch the ball away from his body, and the body control to go up and get it. He also runs nice routes, displaying better than average speed and finding space and holes in coverage. He's also physical enough when creating separation and competing for the ball, towering over most defensive backs and outmuscling them, while being able to run by linebackers in coverage. I like the way he moves, looks like a guy that could be a big asset in the middle, or downfield as well.
I'm not going to pretend that Hudson will be a sure thing, what with a few significant question marks to his game still remaining. But I have plenty of reason for optimism. As a wide receiver, he produced last year. He'll likely do the same this year and be significantly better. We just received a commitment from a big kid with good hands, good route running ability, plenty of athleticism, and beter than average speed. He'll continue to get bigger. He's also demonstrated his ability to be coached by the staff. As a result, they offered. They think he'll be able to block effectively. Thus, I think he will as well. And in a year where it is critical for Cal to bring it at least one tight end, we just got a local guy who loves Cal. That should be valued.
As to how he projects, that's tough to say really. Given his receiver background, Hudson should be more than capable of playing the kind of H-Back role that Spencer Hagan currently does (another converted wide receiver); splitting out wide or in the slot and taking advantage of mismatches. At the same time, Hudson will likley be able to play at a weight of around 245 or 250, and should be strong enough to handle the rigors of the trenches. If he takes to the blocking side of things quickly once on campus, I see little reason that Hudson won't be able to be the complete package. Yes, I'm bullish on this young man.
Here are a few tasty quotes from the commitment articles provided by the usual suspects. Links to the full (free)articles are below:
From Jim McGill at Bear Insider:
"I'd been thinking about getting offers from all these other programs, like Washington, USC and UCLA but then I kept coming back to thinking that the offers would be nice, but Cal's the place I really want to be so why go through all that?
"It's just a perfect fit all-around -the school, all the people around me -Jared Goff's a great quarterback and a great guy. I really look forward to playing with him.
"Cal's definitely the right choice for me. It's a Pac 12 school and it's a school I watched growing up. Now I get to play for them. How can you beat that? I'm really looking forward to it."
From Ryan Gorcey at Bear Territory:
"I called coach [Jeff] Tedford this morning," Hudson said. "He had just gotten his knee scoped, so he was just home from the hospital. I told him that a bunch of schools had been contacting me, and that I had looked through all the schools that had contacted me, and I said that I could go to all their camps and get all the offers from them, but in the end, I would choose Cal over all of them, so I might as well just make my decision."
"It's a good thing to see that they were the ones who said, 'We want you, and this is the place we want you to be at,' first,'" Hudson said. "That speaks volumes that they were the ones that came out and made the first move. It's a different feeling that they came out like that. I'm really happy it happened. I feel like a weight's been lifted off my shoulders. It was the same feeling with the offer, but now that I know where I'm going and I know what's happening, it's unbelievable."
There's really a lot to like about this commitment. First, NEED POSITION; we need tight ends this year...and we just got one. HUZZAH! Second, he's a local kid (Pleasanton) who has always liked Cal. I want kids like that. I've stressed the importance of locking up local talent frequently, and while we won't get them all, we should strive to get as many as possible. We just got another one to go with Jared Goff and Matt Anderson. Third, this is where Hudson wanted to be. Read the quotes from the BI and BT articles I posted again. Once the Cal offer came, Ray knew Cal was the place for him and chose to commit rather than wait out additional interest and offers.
And you're a fool if you don't think more offers were coming, recruit rankings be damned. Every camp he participated in, he was turning heads. After the Cal camp where Gorcey took the above video, other programs started sniffing around and trying to get Hudson to come camp with them. We got a good player, and I believe that will be confirmed in the end. At the least, Hudson can fill the H-back role that Spencer Hagan (and possibly Junior Espitia) will play. At best, he'll be able to do it all with some good coaching and development. Either way, this is a guy that will grind and work to get better. Can't ask for more than that.