Cal Football

Saunders Excited to Be a Bear

August 9, 2019
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In the spring, the Bears began recruiting 6-3/270 Orange Vista (Perris, CA) High School defensive end Ethan Saunders. And a few weeks later, the Bears sealed the deal, with Saunders committing days after the Bears’ recruiting bbq that kicked off the fall camp season.

The 3 star defensive lineman has built a strong relationship with the Cal staff since his recruitment started, particularly with young defensive line coach Andrew Browning.

“My relationship with Coach Browning is real good,” said Saunders. “I like him a lot as a both a coach and as a person. He’s a great guy. I Iiked on my official visit, just seeing how he is in the DLine position meeting. I liked it a lot.

“The barbeque was fun. I really like the coaches a lot and I spent a lot of time with Coach Browning. He made me feel really comfortable there.

“I got to meet the strength and conditioning coach Torre Becton), too. I can’t wait to get up there and get to work.”

The commitment was clearly more than just a football decision for Saunders as he weighed the implications of a future at Cal and the degree that comes along with it.

“As an athlete, I can’t waut to get after it out on the field and, most importantly, bring wins to Cal,” said Saunders. “I’d like to start a legacy there.

“As far as being a student at Cal, I’m actually really excited. I really can’t wait to get out there and step into an environment where expectations are above the roof and see where I can take it. 

“The more I think about it, I’m really excited about school.”

Cal’s Life After Ball (LAB) program, which focuses on career opportunities and planning after graduation, really struck a chord with the talented Saunders.

“Not only did I like it but it just made sense,” said Saunders. “As football players who have played football their whole life, it’s kind of hard to take in that football is going to end and won’t be there for you at some point. That’s not what we want but that’s reality. So to prepare you for life after football, it just makes sense to do all you can to prepare to have a great life after Cal.”

Saunders has another Cal connection through his coach, former Cal running back Greg Zomalt, who played on one of the Bears’ most dominant teams in modern history with the ‘91 Citrus Bowl champion Bears, who steamrolled Chester McGlockton and his favored Clemson Tigers, 37-13.

“Ethan’s the first 4-year graduating class at Orange Vista,” said Zomalt. “He came here out of eighth grade when the school was being built.

“He grew up playing football and basketball and he’s a freakishly-talented kid. He’s proven he’s a good football player and a great person and student and I’m super-excited for him, especially coming from a brand-new school like ours.”

Even though he lines up on the edge, the Bears have interior plans for the versatile Saunders.

“I think at Cal, they’ll have him at nose tackle or tackle, even though right now, he’s at end,” said Zomalt. “Once he gets in a strength and conditioning program with a nutrition plan, I think he’s going to grow into a 300-pound monster.

“He’s a physically-talented kid. He actually played tailback for us freshman year about 70 pounds ago. He can catch, he can run. He could’ve been a tight end, too. He’s a kid that can catch like a wide receiver and run like a tailback. 

“We’re very fortunate to have him at our school, especially nowadays, kids go to the private schools and big name schools. He’ll definitely bring a lot of athleticism to whatever position he plays.

“He’s a great kid, too. He’s a 3.8 student, taking AP classes. He’s a model student and a team captain.”

Saunders put together a strong junior season, compiling 59 tackles, 11 sacks, a fumble returned for an 85-yard touchdown and a pick-six.

As for his future program, Saunders likes what he sees and is bullish on his future unit’s prospects this season.

“I really think Cal’s defense is going to be really nasty,” said Saunders. “I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Other stories:

Fall Camp Day Seven

Deng and Doughty Bolstering Green Inside Linebackers

 
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