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20th NLI Signs with Cal


Just in from Cal Football Media:

 

Harrison Wilfley Joins 2012 Signing Class

BERKELEY – California has signed tight end Harrison Wilfley (Orangevale, CA/American River College/Casa Roble HS) to a National Letter of Intent to join the Golden Bears football program and bring the total number in the class to 20, head coach Jeff Tedford announced Monday. Wilfley last played at American River College in 2008 and ’09 before embarking on a Mormon mission in Uruguay. He prepped at Casa Roble High School, where he played in 2006 and ’07.

The signing class includes nine players on at least one list of the nation’s top prospects provided by five major recruiting services in ESPN, MaxPreps, Scout, Rivals and 247Sports.

“I’m really excited about the kids in this class not only as football players but as people,” head coach Jeff Tedford said. “I’m excited about the future that they’re going to bring to this program.”

Cal is attempting to put together a Top 25 signing class for the third straight year after its 2011 group ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation by Scout and its 2010 class was No. 11 according to Rivals. Cal’s 2012 class is currently ranked in the Top 25 according to MaxPreps (No. 15), ESPN (No. 22), Rivals (No. 23), 247Sports (No. 25) and Scout (No. T33).

If Cal is able to finish with a Top 25 class, it will mark the third straight year the Bears will have accomplished the feat. Cal’s 2011 group ranked as high as No. 13 by Scout, while its 2010 class was as high as No. 11 according to Rivals.

Cal’s highest Top 25 position group ranking is Rivals’ placing its wide receivers group at No. 5, while the Bears check in No. 6 at quarterback, tied for No. 9 at kicker, tied for No. 14 at athlete and tied for No. 15 on the offensive line. According to Scout, Cal’s wide receivers/tight ends group is No. 12.

First-team All-American and four-star quarterback Zach Kline (Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) was on all five lists (No. 32 ESPN, No. 38 247Sports, No. 44 Rivals, No. 123 Scout, No. 140 MaxPreps) and was also the nation’s No. 2 pro style quarterback according to Rivals. In addition, the 2011 Gatorade California Football Player of the Year played in the Under Armour All-Star Game and won numerous local honors including the Bay Area News Group’s East Bay Offensive Player of the Year after leading the North Coast Section with 3,630 passing yards and a school-record-tying 36 touchdown throws.

Four incoming wide receivers – Bryce Treggs (No. 43 Scout, No. 81 Rivals, No. 89 MaxPreps), Darius Powe (No. 66 ESPN), Cedric Dozier (No. 152 Rivals, No. 293 Scout) and Kenny Lawler (No. 219 247Sports, No. 222 Rivals, No. 277 Scout) – were each on at least one of the five lists.

A five-star Scout selection and first-team All-American, Treggs (Inglewood, CA/St. John Bosco HS) played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl after a 2011 season in which he posted 70 receptions for 1,377 yards and 11 touchdowns as the top-ranked receiver in the Trinity League and the third-leading receiver in the state of California. He also had 56 receptions and 1,010 yards receiving as a junior.

Powe (Lakewood, CA/Lakewood HS) received four stars from all but one of the five recruiting services and was impressive in the Under Armour All-America Game following a 2011 senior season in which he caught 36 balls for 560 yards. His most impressive prep season came as a junior when he caught 46 passes for 827 yards and six touchdowns to earn All-State third-team honors and the Moore League Offensive Player of the Year.

Dozier (Lakewood, WA/Lakes HS) played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl after a 2011 campaign in which he moved primarily to wide receiver after having previously been a dual-threat quarterback. His biggest statistical season came as a junior in 2010 when he rushed for 1,223 yards and 17 TD, while adding 91-of-142 passing for 1,181 yards with 13 TD to lead the league.

Lawler (Upland, CA/Upland HS) was a first-team All-State choice of MaxPreps as a senior when he had 53 receptions for 1,267 yards and 12 TD as a 2011 senior to lead the Southern Section and Baseline League in receiving.

Offensive linemen Freddie Tagaloa (Richmond, CA/Salesian HS) and Matt Cochran (Atwater, CA/Buhach Colony HS) were both on MaxPreps’ list of the nation’s top players overall at No. 94 and No. 176, respectively. Cochran is Scout’s No. 3 center nationally, while Tagaloa ranks as high as the nation’s No. 13 offensive tackle by MaxPreps. Both players were in the U.S. Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, while Tagaloa played in the International Bowl and was a Prepstar All-American as a senior.

Defensive back Raymond Ford (Gardena, CA/Junipero Serra HS) is the nation’s No. 144 player overall according to 247Sports. He was an All-State First-Team selection as a junior when he had 45 tackles, five interceptions including one for a 77-yard TD return and 15 passes defended. He saw limited action as a senior due to injury.

Linebacker Michael Barton (Concord, CA/ De La Salle HS) is the final Cal signee on one of the five lists, checking at No. 176 according to MaxPreps and No. 194 by Scout. The MaxPreps First-Team All-American and California Division I State Player of the Year as a senior also participated in the U.S. Semper Fields All-American Bowl and ranks as high as the nation’s No. 10 inside linebacker by MaxPreps.

Linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr. (Oakland, CA/Bishop O’Dowd HS) is the other player to participate in a bowl at the national level at the Semper Fields All-American Bowl and played along with Tagaloa in the International Bowl.

The remainder of the class includes athlete Jeffrey Coprich (Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS), defensive back Damariay Drew (Livermore, CA/Livermore HS), fullback Maximo Espitia (Salem, OR/South Salem HS), wide receiver Chris Harper (Encino, CA/Crespi HS), punter Cole Leininger (Fruit Cove, FL/Bartram Trail HS), offensive lineman Steven Moore (Elk Grove, CA/Elk Grove HS) and offensive lineman Christian Okafor (Houston, TX/Westbury HS).

A total of 12 of the 20 signees – Barton, Cochran, Dozier, Ford, Harper, Kline, Lawler, Leininger, Okafor, Powe, Tagaloa and Treggs – picked up at least four stars from one recruiting service.

“One of the big focuses was on offense line and the wide receiver position,” Tedford said. “I felt like we really improved there in getting some young talent to come in and compete to make an immediate impact.”

Kline and Okafor have enrolled at Cal for the 2012 spring semester and began taking classes in January. Both are expected to participate in the team’s 2012 spring practices.

Cal recruited heavily on the local front in the 2012 class with 14 members from California, as well as one each from the states of Florida, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The Bay Area News Group’s “Cream of the Crop” listing of the Top 20 players in the Bay Area included five Cal signees in Kline (No. 1), Tagaloa (No. 2), Barton (No. 4), Nickerson Jr. (No. 10) and Drew (No. 13).

All team, position and individual rankings are as of February 3 and subject to change.

By position, Cal signed 12 offensive players, four on defense, two athletes and one on special teams.

“I really feel good about how our coaching staff pulled together as it is challenging anytime you have a coaching change with the timing we had,” Tedford said. “I’m very proud of our staff and the hard work they put forth to sign a great class.”

CalBears.com was on site throughout signing day in the football offices at the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. A live blog, biographical information, video clips, frequent updates through Cal Athletics social media outlets listed below and much more has been posted at CalBears.com/Signing Day.

Cal football will return to a renovated Memorial Stadium in 2012, opening its season at home against Nevada on Saturday, Sept. 1. The Bears’ seven-game home slate will also feature Pac-12 contests against Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, Washington and UCLA, as well as a non-conference tilt against Southern Utah. The Bears have road trips to Ohio State, Oregon State, USC, Utah and Washington State.

For more information on the stadium and season-ticket options for 2012, visit CaliforniaMemorialStadium.com.

 

2012 Cal Football Recruiting Class

 

NAME                                                                          POS              HT               WT              YR           EXP              HOMETOWN (LAST SCHOOLS)

Michael Barton                                                       LB               6-1             211              Fr.            HS               Concord, CA (De La Salle HS)

Maurice Bennett                                                   DL               6-2             280              Fr.            HS               Madison, MS (Madison Central HS)

Matt Cochran                                                           OL               6-4             320              Fr.            HS               Atwater, CA (Buhach Colony HS)

Jeffrey Coprich                                                      ATH             5-9             182              Fr.            HS               Stevenson Ranch, CA (West Ranch HS)

Cedric Dozier                                                          WR            5-11           175              Fr.            HS               Lakewood, WA (Lakes HS)

Damariay Drew                                                       DB              6-0             195              Fr.            HS               Livermore, CA (Livermore HS)

Maximo Espitia                                                        FB               6-3             223              Fr.            HS               Salem, OR (South Salem HS)

Willie Fletcher                                                       DB              6-3             180              Fr.            HS               Orange, CA (Orange Lutheran HS)

Raymond Ford                                                         DB             5-11           174              Fr.            HS               Gardena, CA (Junipero Serra HS)

Chris Harper                                                            WR              6-0             171              Fr.            HS               Encino, CA (Crespi HS)

Zach Kline                                                                  QB              6-2             210              Fr.            HS               Danville, CA (San Ramon Valley HS)

Kenny Lawler                                                          WR              6-3             192              Fr.            HS               Upland, CA (Upland HS)

Cole Leininger                                                          P                6-2             204              Fr.            HS               Fruit Cove, FL (Bartram Trail HS)

Steven Moore                                                         OL               6-6             270              Fr.            HS               Elk Grove, CA (Elk Grove HS)

Hardy Nickerson Jr.                                              LB               6-0             221              Fr.            HS               Oakland, CA (Bishop O’Dowd HS)

Christian Okafor                                                     OL               6-6             304              Fr.            HS               Houston, TX (Westbury HS)

Darius Powe                                                            WR              6-2             186              Fr.            HS               Lakewood, CA (Lakewood HS)

Freddie Tagaloa                                                      OL               6-8             312              Fr.            HS               Richmond, CA (Salesian HS)        

Bryce Treggs                                                            WR            5-11           171              Fr.            HS               Bellflower, CA (St. John Bosco HS)

Harrison Wilfley                                                     TE               6-5             240              Jr.             JC                Orangevale, CA (American River College/Casa Roble HS)


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Tedford Signing Day Press Conference Quotes:


Opening Statement
“I’ll start by saying it was a very exciting day. Obviously, signing day is always the culmination of a lot of hard work that goes for a couple of years as you build relationships with the young men and get to know their families. There is a culmination of a lot of hard work and energy put in by the staff, and not just the coaching staff, but everyone involved. It has been a challenging couple of weeks here. The timing of coaches taking new roles other places, there is always a challenge to hire new coaches and build relationships at the last minute. I think our coaching staff did an excellent job of continuing to move forward, and we are very pleased about the class. Obviously, the receiving core and the offensive line was a big need for us, so we felt like we did a nice job there of landing some key players.”

 

On the recruits that went other places
“I really believe that this is about the guys who chose to come here for the right reasons and feel like it is a great fit for them. I think more than any other time, this year you just see de-commitments all over. We kind of joked when they had the [U.S. Army All-American Bowl] and kids are committing at the game. It really means nothing because you can just watch school after school have de-commitments right down to the end. When the coaching changes happened here, people want a relationship with their coach. People start looking other places and so on and so forth. There were a couple guys in the beginning that were committed here, but chose other places. I don’t think we are unique to anyone else, to tell you the truth. I look at the ticker and I just see de-commit to go to here and de-commit to go to there. It is all over the country. It is just kind of the times that we live in now. It has been a very unique recruiting season, I can tell you that, unlike any other. You know with all the Twitter and Facebook, it is just a different day and age as far as that is concerned. The passion that runs so deep in everyone, I have never seen such a time where the entitlement of a 17- or 18-year old can get up in the morning and type three or four words, hit send and everyone goes into a tailspin. That is just kind of where we are right now. This is really about the guys that are here and I really feel like it is a really strong class and we are looking forward to getting them on campus.”

 

On if head coaches need to be more involved in recruiting
“I think it is important, but the head coach can’t do everything. You delegate and that is why you have nine coaches on your staff to be able to go out. The head coach can be in the home one time and that’s it, by rule, but the other coaches can be in there numerous times. So they are the ones that are out building week-to-week relationships in the home. You are kind of limited in what you can do as a head coach with getting face-to-face time with the recruits.”

 

On downside of Tosh [Lupoi] being the face of recruiting in the past
“I wouldn’t say we are in trouble. The perception that we are in trouble is wrong because we aren’t in trouble. We got a lot of great recruits here. We lost probably two recruits over it that could have gone either way. I think there is no doubt about it as the Facebooking goes on and in our program, his name is attached to a lot of the Facebooking, even though it may not particularly be him, but his name is attached to it. I think that is a very good point to make sure that it is spread equally among everyone because everyone does a great job recruiting. No one person can recruit every kid that we have.

With the cyberspace, so to speak, I think we have to re-approach that and take a look at whose name is attached to certain things and make sure that it is widespread. I think that is one thing that does come out of it, but on the telephone with people, all of our coaches are involved on the phones with them.”

 

On the timing of Tosh leaving
“Well, timing is difficult. I don’t want this to be a big Tosh thing. I understand where you guys are coming from, but this is about the recruits that are here. Tosh did a great job while he was here. We gave him an opportunity, he played here, he was a [graduate assistant] here and he coached here, so he did a very nice job and I’m not going to take anything away from him in that regard.

Timing is always critical in any program. One thing you have to look at is young coaches as they come up through the ranks. They are going to have opportunities and that is part of what you do as a head coach – prepare coaches and form an environment where people can grow and develop. Everyone has aspirations of being coordinators or head coaches or whatever it may be, so there is always going to be movement. I don’t think there is anyone that can say with a straight face that there won’t be any movement on staffs. Timing is critical in recruiting, there is no doubt, and when this was probably less than two weeks away to have movement, all of a sudden your focus is put on hiring coaches and building relationships with those coaches back with the recruits.”

 

On four-year scholarships 
“I’m not sure that is actually written in stone yet as far as a rule is concerned. I haven’t gotten the OK to do that, so I’d have to find out where they are with that. I know there is some legislation as far as that is concerned, but I wasn’t sure that that is a for sure thing already. We weren’t told by our compliance department that we were doing that and I follow the rules of the University of California and those are our rules.”

 

On if Tosh worked on behalf of Washington while still employed with Cal
“No, and all those things, I’m not going to get into mudslinging or anything like that. The recruiting process went the way that it went. Really, the only thought was that we asked the conference about having a home visit that was kind of used and we wanted to have another home visit to get in and really represent our school. That was really the only thing we asked. Can we go into the home during the week? They said no.

 

On if he talked to Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian
“Yeah, I’ve talked to him. Obviously, with Tosh and Eric [Kiesau], he called and said he was going to talk with them, so we talked.”

 

On Bryce Treggs
“Treggs is an explosive player, there is no doubt about it. When you watch him play and watch the speed and the athleticism, he kind of reminds you of a guy like DeSean Jackson, who can run like that and has a lot of ability that way. The great thing about this class, as far as receivers are concerned, is they are all going to have the ability to come in and compete to play immediately. I think they are really looking forward to that and they all have the skill to be able to do that.”

 

On if Treggs said all along he would be going to Cal
“A lot of recruits say they are with you and then they just keep getting calls. It is never over until it’s over. I’m really proud of Bryce that he was able to stay strong with his commitment. Just like he said, he’s a man of his word and I really appreciate that because as the last two or three days come down, people go dark on you and you can’t even get them on the phone. There is no communication there and you are doing everything through reading what they put on their Twitter account or on Facebook or things like that. The conversation on the phone is almost not there because all of the communication is done back and forth with that and you are just reading about it.”

 

On if this recruiting cycle was harder than normal
“Actually, recruiting is fun. I really enjoy meeting the families, getting in their homes, learning about them and making sure they understand this is the right place for them, we are going to take great care of their sons and this is the right fit for them. I really do enjoy that, but I don’t know if it would have been the same if we didn’t have coaching changes. I look around and I see how everyone else is doing it and all the de-commits. The interaction with people and the communication has turned so much to cyberspace instead of word of mouth. It has been different in that way.

 

On Zach Kline already being here at Cal
“Zach has really fit in well already and is working really hard. I think it is important for him to be here this spring so he can get some reps with the offense. As you know, he is a highly-rated quarterback, he’s been in our camp for a few years so we have really been able to see him up close. He has a great arm and great pocket presence. He’s very accurate throwing the ball and can throw any ball on the field. He’s a very smart guy that understands football. He’s a student of the game, or he really likes being a student of the game, and that is going to be the next phase for him is to be even more a part of that. I’m really encouraged by his eagerness to learn and I don’t think there is any doubt about his capabilities. He will compete this spring and we will see how it unfolds.”

 

On the importance of players like Avery Sebastian being able to use social media to contact recruits
“I think our best recruiters are your players because they know best. When people get on campus, they are going to hang out with our players and ask them the questions so your best recruiters are the players. Avery is one, from my understanding, that is really involved with all that stuff. I just hear that, I don’t see him do it, but I hear that he’s involved in it. He was like that even in high school, making friends with all the people and all the other recruits.”

 

On his use of Twitter and Facebook
“I have a Facebook that I don’t do a lot of, but I’m going to be much more active in it now. Where we are now, I think you have to learn how to manage that whole thing for the branding of your program and what is going on. As I’m going through asking questions, I’m amazed at how fast and how much fury and momentum it has picked up in a short period of time. I find that companies hire people to just sit there and monitor Facebook all day to make sure that they are putting out fires and things like that. I think it is something that is a reality and something we are going to have to learn to deal with and manage.”

 

On getting caught up in verbal commitments
“I know the fans get really excited about it and that’s all good. Urban Meyer and I were talking about how all a commitment means is you are in the top four and that they have an interest in you. Really, that is the way it is. You have all these guys that say they are committed but still take three or four other trips, so that is kind of the way it goes. It is amazing to look at de-commits go here and de-commits go there. It is all over the country, so my guess is this will be a major point of conversation with everyone in college football.”

 

On the ethics of recruiting for one school one day and a different one the next
“The right way to go about it, in my mind, is to say `I’m taking another job, thank you. It has been nice to get to know you. If you need anything give me a call,’ and then you move on. I’m not sure how often that really happens. I think it is kind of an unwritten law of how you would like to go about it, but everybody does things differently. They can initiate to let them know because the kids have a relationship with them for a long time. To say `Hey, I have an opportunity and I’m moving on and if you have any questions, give me a call.’ It happens all the time and I know this has been a real focal point, but it really happens in every staff. Our timing was just a little bit awkward.”

 

On positions he envisions recruits playing
Michael Barton is a linebacker. Damariay Drew will be a safety. He played linebacker in high school and running back, but he will be a safety for us. Cedric Dozier will be an athlete/receiver type guy. He will be a slot guy and will be able to carry the ball on fly sweeps, but he will play receiver. Cole Leininger will punt. That is his main job, but he can kick as well.”

 

On Freddie Tagaloa having a chance to start as a freshman
“I think he does. If you look at the length of some of the lineman that we have with Moore, Okafor and Tagaloa, you are talking about a guy who is 6-8, 6-7, 6-6 and you have a lot of length there with those guys. I think Freddie will one day be a first-round draft pick. I think Freddie is a guy who is 6-8, 315 or 320 and is very athletic. It is difficult to come in and start on the offensive line because there is so much there, but I think as far as the build and the makeup, physically, that he would have an opportunity to do that.”

 

On if the group of receivers will have a chance to play as freshman
“All of them will have a chance to compete to play.”

 

On Maximo Espitia
“Maximo is going to be an H-back or fullback. He’s a little bit like {Spencer] Hagan, but probably going to grow to be a little bit bigger than Hagan where you can line him up and lead block with him as well, but that is what he is going to play. He’s going to be kind of a move guy at fullback and H-back.”

 

On if Austin Clark will play fullback at all
“No. He probably would like to because he would like to do anything he can to help the team. He’s a great kid.”

 

On how many more signings he expects over the next few days
“There probably could be as many as three to four in the next couple days. There could be some junior college guys, as well, that we are looking at. That is right about what we expected. Initially, we said anywhere from 17 to 22 guys, however it plays out, and we are right in that range.”

 

On increased competition for guys that can defend the spread offense due to new coaches in the conference
“Not so much trends on the recruiting trail, but I think that this conference is becoming a conference now of spread teams. I think that is a challenge of this conference. There are so many different offenses. You play the spread one week, you play the no-huddle the next week, downhill run game with Stanford and then you have the USC pro-style stuff. You are going to see a lot of nickel and dime packages now, which lends to more secondary-type players. Linebackers that aren’t the big bruising linebackers, but guys that can play in space a lot more and that can run.”

 

On if Hardy Nickerson Jr. fits that mold and a comparison to Mychal Kendricks
“Nickerson is more of an inside guy. Kendricks could do it all. He was the [Pac-12] Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. He could do a lot of things and run really well. Some of the guys we have right now that can play in space really well and run, we feel good about our young linebacking core. The two [signees] this year are more inside guys.”

On getting a tight end or two
“Well, that was Maximo really. We felt like he was the H-tight end type guy, so we feel good about our depth there.”

 

On underrated recruits that could surprise people
“I don’t know what the ratings mean. I don’t get into a lot of three-star, four-star, five-star stuff. I don’t know who is underrated as far as that is concerned. I think all of the guys there have some capability of competing to be able to help the team next year.”

 

On National Signing Day being overhyped
“I would say yes. It has really grown into a major production. It doesn’t feel like it is just signing day anymore. Every All-Star game that there is, I think is wrapped around a commitment and the lure of TV and has become a huge production. It is obvious when you watch, and when the fans are so into it, it has grown and I think all the cyberspace stuff has created a huge passion for everything. The amount of information and comments that fly around all the time is really amazing how much interest there is in it. I will tell you this, my concern is when do these kids get a chance to go to school, be a kid and focus on their academics? When everything that is going along every single day is just back-and-forth with each other with Twitter and Facebook and all this type of thing, I think it is bordering on becoming a little bit distracting for the kids to grow up, do the high school things they are supposed to do, go to class and concentrate on the things they are doing. I think it is becoming distracting.”

 

On what coaches or the NCAA can do to stem the hype
“I’ve been thinking about it and I just don’t know that there is [anything that can be done]. I don’t know enough about it, to tell you the truth. All I know is that it has really gotten big. That was very obvious this year, more than any other time. It was amazing to me that this year’s recruiting process was so different than other years. I don’t know how you regulate it, though. I really don’t. There are rules put in place all the time. You used to be able to text kids, then you couldn’t and now you can Facebook them. There are going to be rules put in, I’m sure everywhere, to try to keep some sort of control over what goes on.”

 

It will be interesting to see who are the 2 or 3 more recruits that may sign with Cal. It is also very promising that all these new recruits have the chance to play next season.

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