Tedford Signs a Wealth of Talent Despite Late Recruiting Start

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Cal football coach Jeff Tedford announced the 19 newest Bears yesterday afternoon, the first day recruits could sign National Letters of Intent.

Tedford got a late start after accepting the Cal job in December due to his coaching obligations with Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.

Once he was at Cal full-time, Tedford was able to land some players who had committed to other programs.

"After evaluating tape, guys that we liked on tape, we called them and we got in on them," Tedford said. "Fortunately, we were able to turn a few of them."

The biggest name to do so is local product David Gray, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound wideout from McClymond's High School in Oakland. Tedford likens Gray to San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Terrell Owens.

"He's a big play receiver that's going to be a great addition to our program," Tedford said. "I'm very excited that we were able to change his mind and he's going to attend Cal."

Gray does not possess world-class speed, but Tedford believes he will get faster and with his size, he can be an impact player.

"He's fast enough and he'll get faster," Tedford said.

As a senior, Gray caught 23 passes for 710 yards (30.9 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns. He committed to Arizona before changing his mind and staying closer to home.

Tedford believes he addressed Cal's lack of speed in the other two wideouts who signed yesterday. Jonathan Makonnen played at San Francisco City College and will enroll at Cal in the fall. Randy Bundy, at 6-foot, 165-pounds is said to be a speedster.

The two other pass catchers Tedford inked were tight ends Eric Beegun and Brandon Hall. Hall, a junior college transfer from Orange Coast College is already enrolled at Cal and working out with the team.

In the passing category, Tedford signed quarterback Steven Levy from Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. Levy also played linebacker.

"He's very mobile, very aggressive and very very tough," Tedford said.

Rounding out the offensive recruits are linemen Paul Fraley, Michael Gray, Erik Robertson and Scott Smith. Tedford cites the groups athleticism as a plus.

On a highlight tape shown at the press conference, Fraley played offensive line, linebacker and carried the ball as a fullback. All this from someone who is 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, and who also happens to be an accomplished baseball player.

Tedford describe Gray as a "puppy" in that he only played one year of high school football at Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland, remarking that Gray will probably fill out, adding 20-30 pounds to his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame.

The area which was dealt with the most was the secondary, which was much maligned in 2001. Cal signed five defensive backs yesterday. Tedford indicated members of the quintet would have a shot at playing right away.

The five players are Nick Banks, David Beverly, Wale Forrester, Donnie McCleskey and Timothy Mixon.

"We have addressed some needs in the secondary and we have addressed some needs with speed," Tedford said.

Andy Briner was the lone linebacker to sign with Cal. Briner prepped at De La Salle High School in Concord, where he played defensive end. Despite being only 5-foot-11 and 230-pounds, Tedford feels Briner will be able to play backer.

The Bears also landed two defensive ends. Monte Parson from Los Angeles Harbor City College is expected to make an impact when he arrives in the fall.

Jason Miller comes to Cal from Beverly Hills High School and will have to put some weight onto his 6-foot-5, 215-pound body. Tedford likes his ability to run and feels that he will easily add 40 pounds while at Cal.

Kicker/punter Kevin Johnson is the only kicker to sign with the Bears. Johnson made six field goals of more than 50 yards during his career at Red Bluff Union High School in Red Bluff, Calif.

Due to the loss of scholarships from the football team's academic scandal a year ago, two scholarships were unavailable. Parson's and Makonnen's scholarships will count against next year's class when they arrive in the fall.

Two more scholarships are still available. Tedford said they could be filled as early as today.

One of those slots could be filled by blue-chip tailback Marcus O'Keith. He committed to Cal in December but is believed to be reconsidering the decision.

After being timed in the 40-yard dash in as low as 4.39 seconds, the ball carrier out of Narbonne High School would definitely give the Bears a boost in the speed department, should he spurn more prestigious schools and come to Berkeley.

O'Keith had also considered Washington and UCLA before verballing to the Bears. He did not sign with either school yesterday.


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