Feb. 3, 2012
BERKELEY - California has signed two additional student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to join the Golden Bears football program to bring the total number in the class to 19, head coach Jeff Tedford announced Friday. The two additions are defensive lineman Maurice Bennett (Madison, MS/Madison Central HS) and defensive back Willie Fletcher (Orange, CA/Orange Lutheran HS).
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. 4, 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 (Bellflower, 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 19 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.
All 19 of Cal's signees come from the prep ranks.
"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 a href="/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=30100&ATCLID=208197696">CalBears.com/SigningDay.
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)