clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who is the biggest diamond in the rough recruit in California Golden Bears history?

Cal has had a bunch.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Which recruit came to Cal with the least fanfare (i.e. diamond in the rough) and ended up with the most prestigious collegiate career? (prospects who literally had no buzz, so that disqualifies anyone with 4 stars)

LeonPowe: Paws - he was called "the worst recruit in the Pac 10" and ended up the Pac10 offensive player of the year and led Cal to the Citrus Bowl and a number 7 ranking.

Vlad Belo: I agree with Leon Powe here: Mike Pawlawski is the answer to this one.  When a magazine calls you "The Worst Recruit in the Pac-10" and you end up raising the program from the dumpster to a top-10 team -- while winning conference player of the year honors -- I'd say you were vastly underrated.

Honorable mention here has to go to Jorge Gutierrez.  He was a late signee by Mike Montgomery after the highly regarded Garrett Sim decided to decommit after Braun's firing and sign with Oregon.  Wow, did Cal end up on the good end of that trade.  Jorge was the heart and soul of the Bears, won conference player of the year honors, and was a part of Cal's first conference champion since 1960.

Reef: In 2009, Des and Walter signed a men's golf class that was lightly regarded. None of the trio of Michael Weaver, Brandon Hagy, and Max Homa was an AJGA All-American. None had won a junior golf invitational. Four years later, these players formed the core of a team that put together the greatest season in collegiate men's golf. Ever. 11 victories in 14 tournaments is impossible. Absolutely impossible. These guys did that, with each of those 2009 recruits contributing at least one individual title. Each has a boatload of individual college and amateur honors, and each is a budding professional star. I watched those kids grow up, and in college I saw them pass all of the kids who were ranked higher in high school. They are a testament to hard work and character. They left a legacy at Cal that's equal to any legacy in any sport.

Nick Kranz: I haven't payed attention to recruiting for long enough to really know much about the relative expectations, but since I did start paying attention, I don't think I ever saw an athlete develop more in their time at Cal than Jorge. I remember being surprised when he saw the court as a freshman, and hoping that he could just provide a little energy as a defender without crippling the offense. It was a shock when he became a key rotation cog as a freshman and sophomore, and a shock when he became the go-to-guy as a junior, and a shock when he improved as a senior despite every team game planning against him.
His turnover percentage went down each year and his offensive efficiency went up each year. He added elements to his game every season - elements that some players might struggle years to improve. He transformed himself from a complete afterthough flier into a borderline NBA guy in four years. The narrative with Jorge was that he was the ultimate effort guy. That's true enough, but undersells him a bit. You don't transform from a guy who shoots 42% on 92 two point shots into a guy who shoots  48% on 278 two point shots in two years just based on trying hard. It takes intelligence and athleticism and instinct and a host of other attributes Jorge had or developed beyond just hard work.
Dammit, now I miss Jorge.

Sam Fielder: Mike Mohamed coming in as a 2-star recruit would have to be one of the most under-the-radar high impact guys in recent memory. He went from the lowly 2-star rating to All-Pac10 First Team in 2009, which is pretty amazing. He was always all over the field, and of course he saved the 2009 Big Game with his amazing INT. His Bio includes the following: "Played in 50 of 51 possible games and made 26 starts from 2007-10 after redshirting the 2006 campaign ... earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in his first season as a full-time starter in 2009 after garnering an honorable mention all-conference selection in 2008 and before picking up second-team all-league recognition as a 2010 senior ... finished his collegiate career fourth on Cal's all-time list for tackles with 340, while adding 20.0 tackles for loss (-81 yards), 7.0 sacks (-51 yards), seven interceptions (77 return yards) including two that he brought back for touchdowns, nine pass breakups, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and nine quarterback hurries ." Pretty good for a 2-star if you ask me.