We’ll go in to more detail later in the week concerning who has looked good this week for both the California and Florida squads, but here’s a look at where some of the top players from Cali are talking about going.
No one out West will catch USC this year, but the battle for the No. 2 spot could be Cal’s to lose. In five years of helping to produce the CaliFlorida Bowl, we can’t remember the Bears being mentioned by as many players as they are this year.
Bear commitments Nate Longshore, John Gibson and Mike Tepper have looked solid and could be joined by a couple of new commitments on Friday. Oakland Tech teammates Marshawn Lynch and Virdell Larkins will announce their college choices during the telecast. Most everyone in camp feels the Bears will prevail. The De La Salle duo of linebacker Terrance Kelly and cornerback Willie Glasper have also mentioned Cal highly all week, along with linebacker Worrell Williams.
Lynch has been arguably the team’s top running back, although Terrell Jackson has also been pretty special. Kelly has been the squad’s top linebacker and shows enough athleticism to move to safety on third down plays. Cal commit Bradis McGriff, who is rooming with Gibson, has ASU high on list and could be making a switch. McGriff will make his intentions known during the telecast. Another player who will announce his college choice during the game is defensive back Keston Cheathem. He has had a strong week so far playing corner, and Michigan appears to be the team to beat.
Quarterback Rudy Carpenter has been good all week, which we expected since Westlake head coach Jim Benkert is the team’s offensive coordinator and knows the system well. Carpenter said today he’ll likely not visit Notre Dame but will make an un-official trip to UCLA (Jan 9), head to Arizona State the following day on an official visit and then unofficially visit Arizona the day after his visit to Tempe.
Speaking of ASU, Jackson took an unofficial visit to Tempe last weekend and brought his mother along. Jackson has the Sun Devils and Oregon dead locked right now, but will still make a visit to Cal (Jan 9). As we mentioned earlier, Jackson has looked good all week and is the quickest back of the group in hitting the hole.
The best overall player on offense might be receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who has been burning every corner in the camp. Hawkins, who is as talkative as he is talented, has incredible skills and is looking hard at Miami, LSU and Oklahoma. Derrick Jones has also looked good at receiver and has had a few one-on-one conversation’s with two-way lineman Thomas Herring, who everyone in the camp feels is USC bound.
On the defensive side of the ball, no one has been close to as dominant as rush end Brigham Harwell. When asked who the best lineman they’ve faced so far in camp, to a man, every lineman has told us it was Harwell. On the recruiting side, Harwell continues to say he’s committed to UCLA but is strongly considering ASU. On the opposite side of Harwell, Phillip Mbakogu has been close to un-blockable all week and shows great quickness and power despite battling turf toe. Again, Cal is looking like the team to beat for the talented pass rusher.
We’ll have more info later in the week detailing each practice and talking about who has stepped up their game playing against the best of the best. Photo galleries are also on the way.