Heading into the final day of the recruiting season at Cal, it looked like everything was ready to be signed, sealed and delivered until Junipero Serra (San Mateo, CA) athlete and Northwestern commit Hamilton Anoa'i gave Cal fans a pleasant surprise with a last-minute switch to the Bears last night.
The 3 star Anoa'i excelled on both sides of the ball his senior season, hauling in 29 catches for 554 yards (18 ypc) and 10 touchdowns on offense along with 29 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 1 interception on defense for Serra, despite missing several games while recovering from last season's acl tear he suffered mid-season.
The 6-3/220 athlete ended up committing to Northwestern in December but a late offer from one of his long-time favorites changed the equation in a hurry for the excellent student athlete, who boasts a 3.5 gpa.
"The first thing for me was the education and my parents agreed with that, too," said Anoa'i. "Northwestern's a great school, too, but Cal's a great school and one of my dreams has always been to play in the Pac 12. Cal was also on my list of dream schools, too.
"It really wasn't that hard for me to make a decision."
Credit new Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman with the late recruiting victory for the Serra athlete, convincing him not only consider Cal but make the switch from Northwestern without an official visit -or any visit at all- to the campus.
"Coach Kaufman was the coach recruiting me," said Anoa'i. "At first, he wanted to make sure he didn't pressure me to make a decision without thinking everything through. His biggest thing was to at least get me over to Cal to see what they had to offer. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that because we ran into the dead period but I did my own research and talked it over with the coaches and my parents and ended up making the decision to commit to Cal."
Also give an assist to family friend and new Bear Trevor Kelly, who was more than happy to see Anoa'i join him in Berkeley.
"We grew up together," said Anoa'i of Kelly. "We're family friends and we consider ourselves family. That will be cool to play with him."
Anoa'i has the size and speed to excel at either inside receiver on offense or outside backer or safety on defense for the Bears. Even though a decision hasn't been fully made yet, it looks like the Serra star will stay on the defensive side of the ball for the Bears.
"I've been speaking with Coach Chachere about how they'll use me at Cal," said Anoa'i. "They might play me at outside linebacker, SAM position but wherever they want to play me, I'm happy to play."
Despite being sidelined much of his senior year and being limited to offense the first four games on the season, Anoa'i feels he's fully back and ready to go, recently timing a 4.54 forty, just .05 off his pr of 4.49.
"I'd say I'm 100% and confident and ready to go," said Anoa'i. "I'm not limited at all."
Now that he's healed up and ready to go, the versatile athlete can't wait to move on to the next step in his career.
"Just the fact that I'm going to get a chance to compete has me fired up," said Anoa'i. "I like to grind and I'm ready to compete and do whatever they need me to do. I'm just really looking forward to this next experience in my life and to be able to do it at Cal."
To view Anoa'i's profile, including senior highlights, click here