In a national letter of intent day with less drama than Cal fans have become used to in previous years, as of 9:00 this morning, the Bears are closing in on officially wrapping up their 2013 class with signed letters of intent or early enrollees.
With much of the day to go, only Chino Hills receiver Jack Austin, Heritage (Romoland, CA) High School defensive back Darius Allensworth and Richmond defensive end Takkarist McKinley had yet to sign and all indicated as of last night or this morning that they'd be signing with Cal.
Edit: As of 10 am, all of the committed players had officially signed with Cal, with Austin, Allensworth and McKinley also sending in their signed letters.
The only exception was Archer (Lawrenceville, GA) High School cornerback Trey Cheek, an early commit who is waiting for his most recent SAT scores to see if he's qualified before signing. He expects to hear back by February 14.
With only Gahr (Cerritos, CA) defensive back Patrick Enewally and Central (Fresno, CA) defensive back LJ Moore as potential late additions to the class, there wasn't a lot of last-minute drama to anticipate coming into today.
Enewally ended up choosing Washington after a lot of vacillating and no less than three different silent commitments, and Moore went back to early favorite Oklahoma, signing with the Sooners after silently committing to them last night.
The class got off it it's earliest start in Cal history with a record five early enrollees, with former Marin Catholic (Kentfield, CA) quarterback Jared Goff, San Ramon Valley (Danville, CA) High School kicker Matt Anderson, and junior college players DVC defensive end Kyle Kragen, College of San Mateo defensive end Sione Sina and CCSF receiver Drake Whitehurst all enrolling at Cal in January.
Also sending in signed letters of intent were Cypress Falls (Houston, CA) defensive tackle Jacobi Hunter, Mansfield (Mansfield, TX) linebacker Chad Whitener with the first letters of the day after 5 am from their central time zones. They were soon joined by Buhach Colony (Atwater, CA) offensive tackle Aaron Cochran, Paramount (Paramount, CA) High School OL Chris Borrayo, Christian Brothers (Sacramento, CA) offensive guard Vinnie Johnson, Fountain Valley (Fountain Valley, CA) OL JD Hinnant, Mission Viejo offensive tackle Erik Bunte, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, CA) running back Khalfani Muhammad, St. Mary's (Berkeley, CA) High School receiver Caleb Coleman, Foothill (Pleasanton, CA) tight end Ray Hudson, Crespi Carmelite (Encino, CA) defensive end Ray Davison, Santa Monica City College defensive tackle Marcus Manley, Westlake (Westlake Village, CA) High School DT Tony Mekari, Corona Centennial DT Garrett Hughes, Wilsonville (Wilsonville, OR) linebacker Johnny Ragin III, Tustin (Tustin, CA) High School linebacker Edward Tandy and Loyola (Los Angeles, CA) defensive back Cameron Walker.
One of the hardest-fought battles late in the recruiting season was for Ragin. After the Bears pulled Ragin from BYU, where he'd committed in December, they held off childhood favorite Oregon, who offered late and hosted Ragin on an official visit on the 25th before Ragin reaffirmed to the Bears last night.
Ragin signs with Cal
"The whole process has really been a blessing," said Ragin. "And after visiting all the places I did, I felt real at peace with Cal and knew it was definitely the spot for me. I'm ready to get down there and help restore that winning tradition back to Berkeley."
One of the first early signees was Foothill (Pleasanton, CA) tight end Ray Hudson, who will be playing a tight end/wide receiver hybrid position in Cal's new Tony Franklin/Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid offense.
"I'm very excited to get the chance to play at such a prestigious university," said Hudson. "Berkeley is such a well-rounded university, with sports and academics. I cannot wait to make a difference and am very thankful for the opportunity."
Heritage DB Darius Allensworth is deep into rehab after injuring his acl but is ahead of schedule and excited to be a Bear.
"It means the world to me to make it official with Cal," said Allensworth. "I'm just happy the recruiting process is over with and I can't wait to get up to Cal and continue working out and continue to do whatever it takes to make Cal a winning program.
"Everything's good with my rehab. I have full range of motion back with my knee and I'm moving fast. I'm jogging now and by April or May, I should be running and cutting full speed. I'll be there for summer bridge and I'll be coming up for the spring game in March, too."
Cameron Walker signs with Cal
Loyola cornerback Cameron Walker joined Allensworth as the second of Cal's two defensive backfield commits.
"It's definitely the best feeling I've had in a long time," said Walker. "I can't wait to be a Bear."
Manley signs LOI
Santa Monica City College DT Marcus Manley was particularly excited to make things official today.
"It's pretty unbelieveable," said Manly. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around signing with Cal.
"It's amazing. My journey from high school to jc -I didn't know things would work out as well as they did. My whole family and friends were really supportive and are really happy I was able to use my talents to end up at a great university like Cal.
"I'm really happy."
Houston defensive tackle Jacobi Hunter will join Manley at defensive tackle.
"It feels amazing," said Hunter. "I felt like I was at home as soon as I stepped on campus. I'm blessed to get the best of both worlds -a highly-competitive football team and great academics."
Westlake defensive tackle Tony Mekari signs with Cal
"I'm really looking forward to everything, to be honest with you," said Mekari. "I'm looking forward to meeting with the coaches and being coached by them, getting in on the best experience of my life and just going to school at Berkeley -the whole experience. I'm just thrilled to be going there. After signing day, it just kind of sealed the deal and made me feel like all the hard work that I've done has kind of accomplished something big for me. It's not just me committing but that's it's been accomplished."
Bunte with his brother after signing
"It's something I can't put into words," said Bunte. "This is the greatest moment of my life and I cannot wait to excel under Coach Dykes and his new program. I am forever a Golden Bear."
Linebacker Chad Whitener and family signing LOI
"I feel really good with my decision and I am looking forward to making an impact on the field early," said Whitener.
Crespi DE Ray Davison and fellow Crespi D1 signees celebrate on signing day
Crespi defensive end Ray Davison had a difficult decision in switching his commitment from Northwestern to Cal but the 3 star DE is more than sure about his decision.
"It was really exciting on Wednesday," said Davison. "I really couldn't sleep. I was excited. I was talking to my other friends who were signing and we were talking about how it's almost like waking up on Christmas when you were a kid, so excited to open presents. It was kind of like that feeling.
"I'm really excited to get up to Cal. A lot of people have said negative things about me because of my decision to decommit from Northwestern but when it came down to it, I put everything on the table and I know that Cal's the right place for me and that I'll be very successful there. I'm just really excited to show how all my hard work is going to pay off. I'm looking forward to going into Cal with the group of guys who are in my recruiting class. I believe we can eventually go to the Rose Bowl and win with this group I'm coming in with.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know those guys more. I'm just really excited and ready to work."
Tustin linebacker Edward Tandy signs with Cal
"It felt kind of surreal," said Tandy. "All the work I put in since freshman year or even before that, it all came together. And being the first in my family to go to college, it was a great feeling, just signing and sealing the deal. It felt good that I'd be going to a university like Cal and playing on a great football team.
"I'm just looking forward to getting together with my new team and getting the schemes and everything down and getting started."
J.D. Hinnant signs with Cal
"It felt really special to become an official Golden Bear," said Hinnant. "Cal offers things that nobody else in the country does: great education, great location, great coaching staff and the chance to be a part of a high tempo offense."
Notre Dame running back Khalfani Muhammad with family after signing letter of intent with Cal.
"Man, it's a real blessing for me," said Muhammad. "Cal's the top choice for me with the combination of athletics and academics. It's a school that's a dream come true for me and I'm fired up and ready to be a Bear."
Buhach Colony OT Aaron Cochran signs LOI with parents
"It feels like everything is official now," said Cochran. "No more verbals, no more games. It's a huge relief."
St. Mary's receiver Caleb Coleman signs with Cal
"Everything went really well today," said Coleman. "It's great to take this step and make it official. I can't wait to get to Cal and get on the field."
Chino Hills WR Jack Austin signs with Cal
Fellow receiver Jack Austin, a late decommit from Boise State was excited to sign on the dotted line for Cal.
"My thoughts on making this all official are not as much of relief, but moreso feeling thankful for getting the chance to even be in this position," said Austin. "I'm definitely blessed, in many ways. I know that my future at Cal is going to be full of learning and opportunity, and I am eager to start up already!"
Corona Centennial defensive tackle Garrett Hughes signs with Cal
"I'm very excited about signing with Cal," said Hughes. "I feel like Cal's definitely the place where I felt most at home and that really helped me make my decision. Can't wait to get started."
Kennedy Richmond DE Takkarist McKinley signs with Cal
"I can't even put into words how happy I was to sign," said McKinley. "I was just so excited. I've worked so hard and signing day was finally here. I'll be a Golden Bear next year.
"I'm looking forward to everything. Meeting the players -I've met a few so far- the coaches, getting into those facilities, the tutors helping me out...I'm ready to leave high school right now. I wish I could be there with Jared and Matt now, to be honest."
Paramount offensive lineman Chris Borrayo signs with Cal. Borrayo will be the first from his family to ever attend college.
"It was almost unreal, to be honest," said Borrayo. "It's a real blessing to get the opportunity to go to Cal. I was just really excited to sign that paper, saying I'd be a Golden Bear.
"I was really happy that both my grandmas were there and to see me improve myself like this. We've never really had that in our family. Right before the I went up there to sign, they had me stand up and give a speach and my grandma that's crying in the picture yelled out in Spanish, 'I love you, mijo!' It was really cute."
Christian Brothers OL Vinnie Johnson signs with Cal.
"Being a Cal Bear is a surreal experience," said Johnson, "I'm so proud to be a Bear and can't wait to arrive on campus and hopefully help this team do big things"