Cal Inks One of Nation's Top Recruiting Classes

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Signing Day

Jack Wang and Gabriel Baumgaertner discuss the newly signed Cal class of 2010.

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Correction Appended

The Cal football team has traditionally dedicated the bulk of its recruiting resources to its own backyard, focusing on scouting players in the Western states.

This year, however, the Bears looked farther east and snagged one of its strongest classes in recent memory.At yesterday's National Signing Day press conference, coach Jeff Tedford officially announced the signing of 20 players-12 of whom hail from seven different states outside California-for 2010, a group ranked at No. 11 nationally by

The day was highlighted by the last-minute, cross-country haul of three North Carolina natives: wide receiver/safety Keenan Allen, defensive end Gabe King and inside linebacker Chris McCain-former teammates at Northern Guilford in Greensboro.

Allen is the undisputed star of the trio, a five-star safety who had originally committed to Alabama. But when his half-brother, quarterback Zach Maynard, transferred from Buffalo after the departure of coach Turner Gill, Allen decided to play with him.

The pair settled on Cal after the Crimson Tide chose not to use a scholarship on Maynard.

The opportunity for an offensive role may have also contributed to Allen's arrival. Despite the fact that lists him as the top safety in the country, the two-way player will see time primarily as a wide receiver, and will be plugged into the secondary only in nickel formations.

His versatility softens the loss of Davon Dunn and Josh Harper, two receivers who opted for Fresno State after de-committing from Cal.

"He's so productive on one side or the other," Tedford said. "What we've talked about doing is giving him the ability to do both, and if at some point he just starts separating himself on one side of the ball and that's what he wants to do, we'll go in that direction."

King -- who moved to Eugene, Ore., after being found ineligible for high school football in his home state -- and McCain had both been expected to sign letters from Oregon, but decided to join Allen after a spirited recruiting effort by defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi. McCain will likely greyshirt next season and join the team in January.

The out-of-state searches helped the Bears keep pace with strong pursuits by other Pac-10 teams. Both USC and UCLA assembled top-10 classes while Oregon landed arguably the top prep running back in the country, Lache Seastrunk.

"This year, we probably had more guys that cross over with USC than ever before as far as guys that they were trying to recruit against us, especially toward the end here," Tedford said. "They all had very strong classes from what I can tell, on paper."

Another gem is defensive end/outside linebacker Chris Martin, the Bears' first five-star recruit since DeSean Jackson in 2005. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Oakland native spent his senior year at Grandview High in Aurora, Colo., and had intended on playing for Notre Dame until coach Charlie Weis was fired.

Martin anchors a strong group of defensive recruits that also includes four-star linebackers Cecil Whiteside and David Wilkerson. The newcomers will add more weapons for the 3-4 defense instituted a year ago, and may have a chance to see the field as true freshmen.

"When you're a 4-3 defense and you make the transition, it's going to take a minute to get the numbers right," Tedford said. "Now that this is our second year in that (defense), we recruited to the 3-4-so linebackers were a focus, obviously. That's what we went after, and we feel great about the ones who decided to join our program."

On the opposite side of the ball, Cal netted wide receiver Tevin Carter, offensive lineman Alex Crosthwaite, and quarterback Austin Hinder. The lone running back of the class is Trajuan Briggs, with a running style and hair reminiscent of Marshawn Lynch, who has already enrolled on campus.

Wideouts Coleman Edmond, a transfer from Pierce College in Los Angeles, and Kaelin Clay also add some spark to the receiving corps.

"When you watch the guy play as a football player and a returner and things like that, he's electrifying," Tedford said of Clay. "He can really, really run. They may vie for the national record in the 4x100 this year and he's the anchor. He can run."


Correction: Thursday, February 4, 2010
An earlier version of this article stated that Turner Gill was fired from Buffalo. In fact, he left to take the head coaching position at Kansas.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Jack Wang at [email protected]

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