It isn't often that the University of California offers specialists scholarships, especially early in the recruiting season. But with the signing of punter Cole Leininger in February and the commitment of San Ramon Valley placekicker Matt Anderson this week, the Bears have seemingly shored up both kicking positions for the next 4-5 years.
The 5-11/165 placekicker quickly became a viable target for the Bears with impressive performances in back-to-back weekends at a pair of Cal camps.
"I was there last weekend for the kicking camp and they had me go up against†Daniel Carlson, from Colorado," said Anderson. "He's just a phenominal kicker.
"So they invited me back again last†Sunday to kick against Michael Geiger from Ohio and they liked how I†kicked and offered me a scholarship.
"We did an 11-field goal circuit, starting with a 28-yard field goal from the right hash to get a sharp angle, going all the way out to 58 yards from left-middle.
"They had†(special teams) Coach (Jeff) Genyk's kick and a couple other guys yelling at us from like five yards away to try and distract us. Last weekend, they actually had a bullhorn out, yelling at us, along with the siren.†
"It's all about blocking everything else out and focusing on what you need to do and executing my technique, doing the same things every time.
"Everything was really a pressure kick, with the special teams coach and (Cal†head) Coach†(Jeff) Tedford there watching all the kicks. Every kick†really was a high pressure kick."†
Playing a position where confidence and calm nerves are necessities, Anderson makes sure that he doesn't get too caught up in the moment when his time comes to perform, blocking out any distractions and simply focusing on the task at hand.
"You have to think of it like a practice kick, almost," said Anderson. "You just have to do the same thing every time and not change with the situation -same movement, same steps back, same steps to the side and just focus on execution and technique."
Anderson showed strong range in camp, hitting on a 58-yarder.
"I think I can hit it for 60," said Anderson. "After my camp next weekend (Chris Sailor kicking camp), I'll come back and hit the weight room the next week to continue to build strength and get ready."
Anderson was teammates with new Cal frosh quarterback Zach Kline and thoroughly enjoyed playing with the talented signal caller last season.
"It was great watching Zach play and lead the team," said Anderson. "I just had so much faith in him. I knew that every time he went out there, we could win and good things were going to happen.
"He's just an incredible athlete, with loads of potential. I know he's going to do great things at Cal.
"Zach's a great guy to be around, too. He's a leader that just doesn't tell you to do it but leads by example.
"He doesn't let guys get down when things aren't going right, either. He's always rallying the guys, telling them to keep there heads up and that we can get it done.
"He makes it fun out there."
Anderson had a solid junior season, hitting 7-of-10 field goals, 50 of 53 in PAT's
The SRV kicker will come in on scholarship for the Bears, joining senior Vince D'Amato as the two kickers on the roster on scholarship.
"I'm extremely honored to earn a scholarship offer from Coach Genyk, Coach Tedford and Cal," said Anderson. "Coach Genyk really believes in giving scholarships to kickers.
"Coach Tedford even came out and told me that he's not the biggest fan of it but with Coach Genyk's arrival at Cal a couple years ago, it's something they've been making more of a priority.
"I think last year, a lot of kickers struggled in college and a lot of teams had trouble getting their kickers to execute in pressure situations so that probably factors into programs' reluctance to scholarship kickers.
"But for Cal, Giorgio Tavecchio had an awesome year, leading the Pac 12 in field goal percentage.
"I think more and more teams are seeing how important specialists are and what a big role they can play in a game."