With two recent de-commitments from safeties Shurod Thompson and Marquel Dismuke, it sure looked like momentum was heading in the wrong direction in 2016 recruiting for Cal, but that quickly changed with a run of commitments as quick as Steph Curry's release on his shot. The Golden Bears have had five(!) new commitments this week alone.
There aren't too many schools in major conferences that are able to have buzz generating about their program when a coach hasn't qualified for a bowl game in his first two seasons, but Cal is definitely an exception. The optimism around the program for this season and beyond is a credit to what Sonny Dykes and the rest of his staff have been doing in recruiting recently despite not getting the desired results on the field yet.
None of the five commitments are considered composite 4 star players like Thompson and Dismuke, but there are some players that I really like that have jumped on board #CalGang16. Here's my thoughts on each of the recent commitments:
3 star wide receiver Drew Kobayashi
Every year I tend to think recruits from Hawaii are underrated and that could be the case with Kobayashi. He isn't a dynamic athlete and is definitely more of a possession receiver at the next level, but does a lot of little things really well. He has great hands and really good body control. He consistently comes back to get the football. He's a willing blocker in the run game. It's easy to take this stuff for granted, but some guys who are burners and can run by people never get good at or are willing to improve on the little things that bring immense value.
I think other recent receivers they have signed or have committed have more upside, but Kobayashi could end up contributing on the field quite a bit because of the little things.
3 star cornerback Joshua Drayden
This is a great pickup for the Bears. Similar to Traveon Beck, he is an outstanding zone corner that has great instincts and plays with tremendous eye discipline. His ball skills are very good as well.
He is super fluid and mirrors well in man coverage. He does a nice job of being physical in press, but the one thing I worry about him when playing man is his size. He is listed at 5'11" on some sites and 5'9" at others. For both him and Beck, it is a bit of a concern. A corner can do everything right, play with perfect technique, break on the football at the exact right moment, and still give up a completion because of size. I'll take the shorter kid who plays like Drayden over the taller corner who is stiff and not instinctive, but it is something that has to be acknowledged when you are talking about smaller corners.
3 star wide receiver Matt Laris
Laris is not that different than Kobayashi in that he does a lot of little things really well and he show great hands. He absolutely snatches the ball out of the air like it's nothing to him. The big difference between the two is that Laris has a lot more juice after the catch and can do some damage. He does not look like a burner, but he keeps running by people deep.
I think the Bears might have a potential steal on their hands with Laris. He's a very solid prospect.
Defensive end Rusty Becker
Becker was offered after the Cal coaches saw him in person so they must have been impressed with what they saw. To be honest, his film didn't exactly blow me away. I don't think he is the kind of athlete that can play defensive end in the Pac-12 and be any kind of threat as a pass rusher. He just isn't explosive enough and doesn't show the ability to bend and wrap.
He does look a lot bigger now than he did from his film. I'm going to assume that they like him as an interior player and that's definitely a better fit for him in terms of his athleticism.
3 star wide receiver Logan Gamble
If you're a wide receiver and the first clip of your highlight tape is you lighting up someone as a defensive end, you've earned a new fan in me. I really like this kid and the way he plays football.
He isn't going to blow anyone away with great burst out of his breaks. He is going to win with size (6'6") and the edge he brings. He is a competitor. On one play on defense he pretty much pulled a club move on the referee when in pursuit of a scrambling quarterback. Every program needs kids like this on their team and I think he'll be an asset to the wide receiver group during his career in Berkeley.