Bear Insider Video: 4 Star DE Derek Wilkins Talks Cal Commitment

August 9, 2020
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Hours after announcing his commitment to Cal in front of friends and family on Instagram Saturday, 6-4/250 Santa Margarita Catholic defensive end Derek Wilkins‍ and his mom Teri talked with Bear Insider about what made Cal the right choice for him and the family.

“It feels great,” said Wilkins of making the commitment official after a whirlwind recruitment with offers from all over the Pac-12 and country. “I’m publicly-committed and I can go to work on building up the class and doing my part to make this the best class Cal’s ever had.”

Wilkins’ plans were a bit derailed, as he was unable to make several visits he’d hoped to make, but despite the lack of mobility, the groundwork for a strong relationship had already been laid with Cal.

“I’m publicly-committed and I can go to work on building up the class and doing my part to make this the best class Cal’s ever had.”
-Derek Wilkins

“Originally I planned to visit a lot of schools but a lot of it got shut down because of Covid,” said Wilkins. “But Cal’s a school I’d already been to three times before things got shut down and it was a relationship we just continue to keep building, Whether it’s talking on the phone with (DL Coach Andrew) Browning or playing Call of Duty with Browning or Akili (Calhoun) or just talking to the other commits, I’ve really just been able to strengthen the bonds. So that was a big part of what helped me make the decision.”

Wilkins’ connection with his future classmates also played a big role in his comfort level with the program as he already was virtually an honorary member of the 2021 class.

“I met both Akili and Jermaine (Terry) at Cal’s Junior Day,” said Wilkins. “I’ve known Mavin for a long time and they’ve been pushing for a while. 

“They made a group chat not to long after Junior Day and for awhile, I was the only uncommitted guy on there. Now I’m able to be on there as a commit. I’ve been able to build up that relationship (with his future teammates) since February so that’s definitely a big part in helping me know Cal’s the place for me.”

His relationship with his future position coach Andrew Browning also played a key role in Wilkins’ decision to commit to Cal.

“Oh, it’s great,” said Wilkins. “I’ve known him since they offered me back in November. He’s been to my school multiple times and I’ve been to Cal multiple times. We talk two to three times a week and on top of that, we’ll play Call of Duty sometimes with me, him, Benji (Palu) and Akili and Patrick (Hisatake) will jump in sometimes.

“So he’s building the relationship not only as a coach but as a person. I feel really comfortable with Coach Browning. I feel like he cares about me and it’s honestly family.”

Not only are the bonds strong with his future DL coach but they’re also solid with his future head coach, which is not often the case with prep players.

“I’ve talked to Coach Wilcox multiple times,” said Wilkins. “He’s building a great program. Cal’s been up in wins every year the last three years. I love what he did with the defense at Wisconsin and you could just see the type of program he’s building (at Cal). Not only talented guys but high-character guys and high-academic guys. Guys who want to do it and want to be brothers. That’s a big thing for me and kind of what sold it to me.”

Cal’s academics were a huge selling point as well for the 4.0 student, who already had gained admission to Stanford after going through their application process.

“It’s definitely a big part of it for me,” said Wilkins. “I love my academics. I want to go to a school and get a degree that’s going to mean something. If football ends, which it eventually will, I want to be able to take that next step in my life and hipefully get a job or maybe start my own business, depending on where things go.

“Coming out of Berkeley, you’ll going to have a great degree that actually holds a significant weight and ther’s big for me.”

Not only was Wilkins fully-sold on what Cal had to offer but so was his family.

“I’m very excited,” said Wilkins’ mom, Teri. “It’s been an amazing journey and a long year since that first offer. I’ve learned so much about college recruiting and football, in general. It’s been a really fun experience and we’ve had a great time learning and growing.”

What advice to Wilkins learn from his mom?

“Just keep working,” said Wilkins. “Nothing’s going to be given to you. If you go out there and get it, you’re going to give yourself the best chance to get that scholarship. And you’re not necessarily doing it for me. You’re doing it for you. And humility and education are always big.”

Does Wilkins’ mom Teri have the same level of comfort with the staff and program as he does?

“I do,” said mom Teri. “I’m very happy. We’ve felt very comfortable and at home with the Cal family from the beginning. They’re great. I really trust them. They’re really honest people.”

As a junior, Wilkins had 54 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and three blocked kicks for Santa Margarita Catholic. 

The Bears beat out Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska and more for Wilkins’ commitment. The commitment over Stanford, who Wilkins had already been admitted to, was the Bears second big head to head victory over the Cardinal after securing 4 star WR J Michael Sturdivant‍ earlier this summer.

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Bears Beat out Top National Comp For Wilkins' Commitment

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