Cal's offensive line recruiting got a major boost when Centennial (Corona, CA) OL Cameron Hunt committed to the Golden Bears from The Opening in Beaverton, Oregon on Saturday night after a very good showing at the prestigious camp against some elite competition. This is a great pickup at a need position.
Cal extended an offer to Hunt after he garnered OL MVP Honors at the Oakland NFTC Camp back in May. That same camp performance is what earned Hunt his invitation the The Opening. Here is what the folks over at Scout.com had to say about Cameron after his NFTC showing in May:
The most dominant offensive lineman at the Oakland NFTC, Hunt won every one-on-one to not only win MVP honors but also an invitation to The Opening. Hunt showed great flexibility and footwork, excellent technique and plenty of nasty, typical of offensive linemen from Centennial, and was the clear MVP.
Coach M and the Cal staff began an aggressive courting of Hunt after the offer, developing a strong relationship, impressing him with the new facilities, and stressing the academic and career benefits that come with attending Cal. As Hunt zeroed in on a time-frame for a commitment, it became clear that we would be a major player for his services. His announcement on ESPNU Saturday night was sweet music to the ears of Cal fans who understand the need to for quality offensive linemen in this class (and every class, really).
So what kind of player is Cal getting in Cameron Hunt? After the jump, we'll look at Cameron's measurables, rankings and evals from the scouting services, highlights with some thoughts and analysis, as well as some nuggets and quotes both from his perfomance at The Opening and his commitment to Cal.
Welcome, Cameron. Go Bears!
MEASURABLES AND RANKINGS
Weight: 270 lbs
Rivals ranks Cameron as a high 3-star (5.7) prospect.
Scout ranks Cameron as a 3-star prospect and the #12 offensive guard in the country.
247 ranks Cameron as a 3-star prospect (87).
ESPN ranks Cameron as a 4-star prospect (82) and the #15 offensive tackle in the country.
Cameron committed to Cal over Arizona State and Washington. He also held offers from Arizona, Boise State, Cincinnati, Colorado, Duke, Fresno State, New Mexico State, Oregon State, San Diego State, Utah, and Wazzu.
ANALYSIS AND THOUGHTS
One of the first things that stands out to me is Hunt's footwork and hand use. I really like it. He has very good lateral mobility and is quick out of his stance, allowing him to handle speed rushes well. He also has a nice strike when he brings his hands up and is able to really get into the bodies of defenders. He's agile and athletic for a big guy, which are rare attributes in most high school linemen. That could bode well for a future as a tackle. He's also very technically sound. He has good knee-bend and flexibility and does a nice job getting his hips underneath him. Not a guy you're gonna see lunging and falling on his face very often. He clearly can move people and also uses leverage well when drive-blocking. I like seeing him work up the field too. Centennial's offense calls for discipline and good technique on the line, and Hunt exemplifies that in these clips.
The aggression also really stand out to me, and is something I never tire of seeing in an offensive linemen. Hunt plays mean, and likes to finish his blocks and punish people when he can. Give me a finisher any day. Linemen should be bullies on the field. Any time a big guy spots a smaller dude not paying attention to the flow of play and flattens him, an angel gets it's wings. Really, it's true.
The question is really regarding Hunt's current size and weight. He's been reported as being closer to 6'4 than 6'5, and will need to gain some bulk to hang with bigger defensive linemen at the collegiate level. As noted in the quotes below from recruiting analysts who got to see Hunt in action at The Opening, he had a tougher time with bigger DL's that he was pitted against, but still more than held his own thanks to superior footwork and technique. Chucking around 200 pound defensive ends is a lot different than 300 pound tackles, but finding a way to do both means you're good. Not exactly a shock, but an indication that he'll need to gain some weight and strength. The weight and strength can be Blasquez'd, but the height may mean he projects as more of a guard than a tackle. Commenter Oski_P_Beer had a great observation about Hunt in the initial commitment post that matches my own sentiments very well. Matt Summers-Gavin is a very good comparison to Hunt at this stage. He's a bit of a tweener...but in a good way. Call it versatility, which is always a good thing to me. Hunt could project as a serviceable tackle (I think he has better footwork and agility than MSG and thus would be better equipped for quicker defensive ends), but would also be very good as a pulling/trapping guard on the interior. Either way, this is one of the top OL propects on the West Coast and a very good get for Cal.
Here are a couple nuggets about Cameron's performance at The Opening, where he really held his own and turned some heads with his performance:
From Day One, courtesy of 247 Sports:
Cameron Hunt isn’t a massive offensive tackle and he could end up on the inside on the next level but he is very polished and rarely gets beat in one-on-ones.
From Day Two's DL/OL drills, also courtesy of 247 Sports:
Cameron Hunt – Before committing to Cal in the evening, Hunt displayed plenty for Jeff Tedford to be excited about. Hunt is not a massive offensive lineman and may eventually move inside but he really excelled as a drive blocker and has already showed terrific feet in pass blocking. Despite a less-than-imposing frame, Hunt was a major presence.
247 Sports also listed Hunt among the best overall offensive tackle performers from the weekend:
Cameron Hunt- Hunt doesn’t have elite size and he has the versatility to play either guard or tackle but what he moves his feet really well and he understands leverage. Though Hunt doesn’t dominate or overpower, he almost never has a bad rep. He committed to Cal during the weekend.
Scout.com also included Hunt among the top OL performers from Day Two and Day Three at The Opening:
Corona (Calif.) Centennial OL Cameron Hunt- On the day he committed to Cal, Hunt continued to show he's one of the top linemen in the West in this class. He did all his reps playing tackle and showed the agility and movement you need to be a tackle in college.
One of the surprise selections to The Opening had one of the best days today. Corona (Calif.) Centennial tackle Cameron Hunt went undefeated in the one on ones, once again showing he can compete with the big boys.
Hunt, who might play guard in college, took all his reps at tackle and was very impressive. He has excellent lateral mobility allowing him to get outside on the speed rushers and he showed the strength to stand up against some of the ends who tried to bull rush him. He has been well coached and has advanced technique as a lineman but it's his sheer hunger to win every rep that separated him from others
Was one of the offensive linemen selected to the Linemen Challenge, going 1on1, and had a fine Sunday performance, after a very good day on Saturday, the same day he committed to Cal.
Here's a couple nuggets from Jim McGill's commitment article on Hunt over at Bear Insider:
"I really like Cal's academics," said Hunt. "A degree from Cal can set you up for life.
"I love their staff, too, especially (Head) Coach (Jeff) Tedford and Coach Michalczik. I'm real
comfortable with them and they're great guys.
"The atmospere at Cal and in the San Francisco Bay Area is great, too. That's what I love about Cal."
"Coach Michalczik said he really likes athletic lineman a lot and that's pretty much what I am. He likes my aggressiveness and the mental aspect to my game, too, and that I never give up and have a good motor."
More goodness from Rivals analyst Adam Gorney's commitment article on Hunt:
"I want to do business and their business school is one of the top five in the nation and one of the best in the world. That played a factor because you only get to play football for so long. That Cal degree will help you no matter where you go and they have a lot of good internships.
"Their facilities and their brand-new stadium are great. There are a lot of upsides to Cal and that's why I picked them."
"I wanted to play in the Pac-12 and I wanted to have my family see me," Hunt said. "Cal is about a six-hour drive from my house so it's not too bad. That was a factor, not too far from home but far enough. I'm happy with my decision and glad to be a Bear.
"Coach Michalczik I started researching him after I visited Cal and he treated me like one of his own. He took me around on the tour and usually that doesn't happen especially that he's back from the NFL. I'm glad to be under him and hopefully he can be my mentor and I can learn a lot from him."
This is a very good addition to the recruiting class. Cal will theoretically want to take four or more offensive linemen in 2013, and we just received a commitment from a talented prospect who could play multiple positions on the line, and play them well. Oh, and it happened on national television. That's some good press.
Hunt is a very polished linemen already; technically sound, hungry, and mean. When the biggest knock on a guy is his CURRENT size, that's not a bad thing. Hunt will gain weight and strength with time (maturation alone will help) and training (and training table! HEY-O!). The fact that he's already advanced when it comes to some of the intricacies of the line (leverage, footwork, hand use) is what makes him special to me, and is also what makes me so pleased to have his commitment.
Now, there may be some concerns about programs like Stanford offering later and Hunt flipping, a la Zach Hoffpauir last year. /Insert pic of Hoff waiving Cal flag at the Semper Fi Bowl here. /Insert my vomit here. While I can't speak with any certainty about whether that's a real possibility, my opinion is that it's not. Hunt was deliberate with this decision. If he felt like waiting for additional offers to come his way, he wouldn't have committed. I can't crawl inside the mind of a 17 year-old kid, but that's my feeling. Put those fears to rest until you have legitimate cause to fear a flip. Say, some time in January. For now, enjoy this.
It's also worth mentioning that developing inroads to the Centennial program could have some long-term benefits for Cal, as they are a perennial powerhouse in a pretty talent-rich area. Securing a commitment from Hunt won't hurt as Cal may have reason to look back to the Corona-Norco District in the coming years. Arizona State had previously done a nice job recruiting Centennial, so us pulling Hunt could pay off big time later.
At the end of the day, I'm a big fan of the guys in the trenches. Always have been, always will be. On both sides of the ball, they dictate the game. Stocking up on talented linemen, and then developing that talent further is how you win. Securing a commitment from a top OL prospect in the West is a good thing, and speaks well of potentially changing tactics and attitude of a coach who has been maligned in the past for his lax recruiting efforts. Tip of the cap to Coach M on this one. He earned it.
What do you guys have to say? Discussturbate below.