In case you missed it, the California Golden Bears had an excellent recruiting weekend.
- Three-star offensive tackle Miles Owens was the first to commit on Friday.
- Four-star offensive tackle Will Craig was next, making the call to Cal on Saturday.
- Three-star linebacker Evan Tattersall was close behind to join his teammate Craig.
- Three-star safety Chigozie Anusiem was the final commitment on Sunday.
Not only did Cal get four commits, but three of them were from the Bay Area or Northern California. Craig and Tattersall hail from Granite Bay near Sacramento and Owens comes from Bishop O’Dowd, down the road from Berkeley in Oakland.
Sonny Dykes had some early success getting local Cal recruits (including securing Jared Goff), but it was half on the junior-college circuit and it pretty much dried up by the end of his tenure. Cal had a total of two commits from Northern California go to the Bears in the last two recruiting cycles.
2016: Two NorCal commits. Linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk (American River CC in Sacramento) and offensive tackle Jake Curhan (Redwood High in Larkspur).
2017: Two NorCal commits in linebacker Kyle Harmon (Freedom High in Oakley) and tight end Gavin Reinwald (Elk Grove), but BOTH came after Justin Wilcox took over as the new head coach. Cal had zero local commits before Dykes was removed as head coach.
Justin Wilcox has 12 commits already. All of them are from California. Eight of them are from Northern California or the Bay Area. Aside from Craig, Tattersall and Owens, there’s...
- Antioch (Ca.) linebacker Omari Harris
- South Lake Tahoe (Ca.) tight end McCallan Castles
- San Jose (Ca.) Archbishop Mitty defensive end Nick Alftin
- Menlo Park (Ca.) defensive end JH Tevis
- San Mateo (Ca.) offensive guard Atonio Mafi
Obviously, there isn’t really a huge correlation between local recruiting and top success. All major programs tend to recruit nationally at this point. But for a mid-tier Power 5 program like Cal, it makes more sense to rebuild local connections and at least have some good way to replenish the coffers. National recruits can be harder to keep in the fold compared to in-state prospects at Cal and are more likely to transfer or not return.
Dykes and Northern California didn’t make a great fit, particularly because of the Bear Raid offense. The Air Raid isn’t particularly popular in this part of the country. The Tony Franklin System that Cal ran for Dykes’s first three seasons tends to be more localized to specific spots of Southern California. Conversely, most top-flight local defenders didn’t seem to be enthused at the thought about spending 80 to 100 plays every game on the field. So Dykes had to reach nationally, and coaches were on the road a lot more than you’d expect.
Wilcox is much more of a traditional West Coast coach with a West Coast staff. The results appear to bear it out on the recruiting trail.
Hopefully, recruiting locally will cut down significantly on travel time and improve local recruiting success, allowing Wilcox and his new staff more time to game preparation. It’s a good way to start rebuilding a program that has lost its way in recent years and stayed stuck in a mediocre rut.
Finally, emotionally, it’s nice to just see local Cal targets stick to Cal. It stinks hearing about local Northern California prospects ending up elsewhere, then hearing questions like “Why didn’t Cal land him?” cycle through our feeds every fall. Doing our due diligence locally will improve the concept of Cal caring about its regional roots.
Here’s to Cal keeping their strategy local before eventually tackling the national interest.