Bears Welcome Top-20 Class on National Signing Day

Photo: Coach Jeff Tedford introduced his 2011 recruiting class at Wednesday's National Signing Day press conference. The Bears fared well in recruiting despite Tedford's first losing season.
Allyse Bacharach/Photo
Coach Jeff Tedford introduced his 2011 recruiting class at Wednesday's National Signing Day press conference. The Bears fared well in recruiting despite Tedford's first losing season.

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It may be February but the Cal football team pulled out a somewhat surprising win on Wednesday.

Despite the first losing season under head coach Jeff Tedford's reign, Cal has produced another top-20 recruiting class, announced at yesterday's National Signing Day press conference. Highlighted by ESPN's No. 7 defensive lineman Viliami Moala and No. 6 safety Avery Walls, the class is ranked as high as No. 14 in the country and No. 15 by ESPN.

"A lot of these guys can come in a make an immediate impact, so really excited to get them here," Tedford said. "Today was pretty uneventful; everything kind of fell in place just the way we thought it was going to be, just a solid group - great kids, great athletes."

Tedford said he was never worried about recruiting following his team's bowl-less season. He noted that the Bears' history of success - and the presence of so many Cal alums in the NFL playoffs- made up for it.

While most of the players - and the highest ranked ones - will play on defense, Tedford said his staff was not necessarily looking for defense over offense. It was, however, looking to fill specific positions.

Starting defensive backs Chris Conte and Darian Hagan will be leaving, but the future in the Bears' secondary looks bright.

Walls has already enrolled at Cal this semester, and the McDonough, Ga., native looks to be in the running for a starting position. The explosive safety has a "lot of confidence in the angles he can take," Tedford said.

The recruiting class includes three other defensive backs - all from in-state - who could see playing time early and often.

Stefan McClure, from Vista, Calif., is considered a top-10 cornerback in the class and is ranked No. 24 at the position by ESPN. Fellow cornerbacks Kameron Jackson and Joel Willis are not as highly ranked, but Tedford is just as excited about their potential.

"If you are a corner and you wanted to play early, this was a great place to come because they're going to line up in there and play from day one," Tedford said. "When you talk about Stefan (McClure) and Kameron (Jackson) and Joel (Willis), those guys are going to line up right there and compete right away."

The jewel of Cal's 2011 recruiting class very well could be Moala. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman will play right away according to Tedford. He added that Moala can bench press 490 pounds, already the Bears' record.

On the other side of the ball, Tedford stressed the need for more depth at running back, since Shane Vereen departed for the NFL and three of the squad's remaining four backs have had injuries.

Three of Wednesday's signees are tailbacks. Tedford said all will see playing time, but C.J. Anderson could see the most due to his experience. Anderson is a junior college transfer from Oakland's Laney College. Brendan Bigelow was the No. 13 ranked running back even after missing his entire senior season. Tedford called the speedster's separation "awesome ... He's got some natural stuff that not a lot of people have."

It is still to be determined as to whom will be handing off to the plethora of tailbacks. Incoming freshman Kyle Boehm will join Cal's five returning quarterbacks, all of whom will see extra face time with Tedford this season.

Tedford, in his 10th year leading the Bears, said he will take a more active role in coaching the quarterbacks this coming season.

"It's going to be like the old days when I'm with them everyday," Tedford said.


Contact Jonathan Kuperberg at [email protected]

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