After only their second losing season under head coach Jeff Tedford, the California Golden Bears are entering a new era under former Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes.
Dykes has started his time in Berkeley off well with a solid 26-man recruiting class that should help the Bears rebuild after a 3-9 finish in 2012.
According to MercuryNews.com, the new head coach is confident that he has addressed the team’s biggest needs heading into the 2013 season:
“To me,” Dykes said, “we addressed exactly what we needed in this class, which is depth on the offensive and defensive lines.”
Dykes is right about that. Of Cal’s 26 commitments, 13 are offensive and defensive linemen.
Though the Bears lost out on 4-star tackle Cameron Hunt, who flipped to Oregon late in the recruiting process, this large batch of linemen certainly brings some talent to the table.
On offense, five new big boys will join a Cal front wall that has lost three starters from 2012. Headlined by 3-star tackles J.D. Hinnant and Erik Bunte, these incoming players will be a welcome addition to a relatively thin corps of offensive linemen.
On the other side of the ball, eight defensive linemen will head to Berkeley in 2013. As they did with Hunt, the Bears missed out on 4-star defensive end Kylie Fitts, who would have likely been able to make an impact right away.
Nonetheless, Cal now has plenty of young players to add depth to its defensive line.
Defensive end Aaron Tipoti and nose tackle Kendrick Payne have used up their eligibility in Berkeley, and Deandre Coleman will be a senior in 2013. It is likely, therefore, that some of these incoming freshmen, especially 3-star stud Takkarist McKinley and junior college transfer Sione Sina, will see early playing time.
Dykes will also welcome in three new linebackers, the most promising of which appears to be the highly-touted 3-star prospect Johnny Ragin III. Cal’s linebacker corps is relatively young, but Ragin III, along with fellow 3-star commits Chad Whitener and Edward Tandy, will provide additional athleticism and upside at the position.
On defense, the Bears also notably received a commitment from 4-star cornerback Darius Allensworth, who is arguably one of the most naturally talented players in this recruiting class.
Aside from the linemen on offense, Cal was able to secure commitments from 4-star quarterback Jared Goff and 4-star running back Khalfani Muhammad, a smaller back who has a 40 time of 4.4 seconds.
The Bears do have deep, young stables at both positions, but they have lost their starting quarterback in Zach Maynard and their two top rushers in C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele.
Despite the presence of younger players such Zach Kline and Allan Bridgford at quarterback and Brendon Bigelow at running back, Goff and Muhammad have the potential to push for playing time upon their arrival in Berkeley.
Losing Keenan Allen, one of the most talented receivers in school history, to the NFL will certainly hurt, so Dykes will surely appreciate his three receiver commits, especially 3-star wide out Jack Austin.
Austin has great size for the position at 6’3” and 205 pounds, a similar frame to that of Allen.
Last, but not least, the Bears will receive an upgrade on special teams. Matt Anderson is the nation’s fifth-ranked kicker according to Rivals, a welcome acquisition for any FBS team.
While Dykes joins the Golden Bears after a down year, he has started off pretty well with his abundance of new recruits. His total of 26 commits is more than twice the total raked in by Cal’s fierce rival Stanford.
Entering a new era under Dykes, these 26 new players will look to add to Cal’s rebuilding squad filled with young talent, and will push to return the Bears to the top of the Pac-12 standings.