BERKELEY — Don't count on much signing-day drama from Cal, which expects to complete a 20-player class Wednesday that represents a decent comeback from a 1-11 season last fall.
“I think they've actually closed pretty well, all things considered,” said Brandon Huffman, national recruiting analyst for Scout.com.
Six weeks ago, coach Sonny Dykes boldly predicted a top-3 class in the Pac-12. “I don't think it's going to be top three,” Huffman said, “but probably in the top half.”
Adam Gorney, from Rivals.com, agrees. “Coming off such a bad season, they've done a pretty respectable job of getting some really talented guys.”
There were believed to be only a few variables at play on the eve of signing day: The Bears hope to hold onto long-time verbal commit Tre Watson, who rushed for more than 3,400 yards and 48 touchdowns last season for Centennial-Corona.
Washington and new coach Chris Petersen have made a strong, late push for Watson, but Gorney isn't convinced they will pry him away.
“I don't think it's absolutely done, but I don't see any indication he's going to change,” Gorney said.
The Bears also would like to get one more defensive lineman. The more likely candidate is four-star defensive tackle Marcus Griffin of Bellevue, Wash., who tweeted he will choose this morning among Cal, Arizona and Mississippi State.
Cal has gotten commitments from five defensive players since Art Kaufman was hired as defensive coordinator two weeks ago, but Huffman wonders if it was in time to land Griffin. “That allowed other schools to make a move on him,” said Griffin, who believes Griffin will pick Arizona.
A longshot is four-star defensive end Nifae Lealoa of Capital Christian-Sacramento, recruited by Stanford in the fall but now seemingly headed to Vanderbilt.
The connection? Former Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason was hired Jan. 18 as the Commodores' head coach. Because of that, Huffman suggested, Lealao enjoys “a comfort level with those Vandy coaches.”