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Cal Football

Bear Insider Video: Cal Football 2024 National Signing Day

February 7, 2024
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National Letter of Intent Day on the first Wednesday of every February used to be the one and only day where recruits signed letters of intent and were announce by programs as new signees but with the advent of the early signing period and the transfer portal, today’s NLI day was a low-key event, with two new signees announced by Cal head coach Justin Wilcox.

The most recent additions are Florida punter Bobby Engstler‍, whose commitment was announced when he publicly committed in January as well as new Houston cornerback commit Khamani Hudson‍, who announced his commitment this morning.

"The two that signed today, Bobby And Khamani, Bobby's a punter from Tallahassee,” Cal head coach Justin Wilcox noted at this morning’s press conference. “Really talented young guy and he came out here (for an official visit). It wasn't this past weekend. He was here last month. But a talented specialist that we're excited to bring on board. And then Khamani Hudson, who's from North Shore in Houston. He's a corner. Got really good tangibles and can run, has some good length and we feel like he's got a big upside. So those are the two that we signed today.



"We've got 30 new signees. I would anticipate a few more people in that spring window and in that May-June window that would be new names. We'll see how much that grows, depending on spring football and who's available come the spring transfer window. But right now, the majority is going to be set I mean we've got 30 new signees as I as I mentioned and all the returners, so a lot of guys are already on campus and getting to work in these winter workouts."

Wilcox was asked what Engstler brings to the program, particularly as a specialist coming in on scholarship when there is already a punter and kicker on scholarship returning.

"Just a guy that's got a lot of God-given ability as a specialist," Wilcox said of Engstler. "He's still going to grow as a player but having a punter who's consistent and is a weapon in terms of changing field position. I think we all recognize it when you have one and when you're struggling in field position. Coverage is obviously a big part of that but having a guy that can flip the field and pin people is a is a big deal. So just a guy that we wanted to bring into the program and continue to work with and he's shown in his high school career, he's got the tools to do it. So now it's about honing those tools and becoming a consistent performer."

Hudson was a player who played for a top national program who didn’t receive the type of recruiting attention he might’ve seen in earlier years before the transfer portal. Wilcox was asked about his thoughts why the talented corner might’ve flown a bit low on the recruiting radar.

"Well, they're still high school guys and they develop at different rates,"Wilcox noted. "And I think all of us, whether it's fans, recruiting sites, coaches, as well, judge people too early sometimes and that can be dangerous. You can miss people. So I think he's a great example. 10 years ago or 20 years ago, this is when a lot of recruiting happened, late in their careers and the evaluations were done late. We were able to get an evaluation on him in his senior year and he did a really good job so we're excited about bringing him in. But I think so much of these judgments are made so early in their careers and these are still young guys that are growing and developing, so I think it's important to continue to evaluate them throughout their high school career and into their senior year."

With the advent of the recruiting portal, the way programs recruit has changed fairly significantly, with new additions being able to come in and impact a program right away and cycle out of the program quickly if they have limited eligibility remaining so programs are starting to look more at simply adding talent rather than simply filling position needs.

"You're never going to turn away a good player, even if you happen to be deep at that position," Wilcox said. "So are there needs that need to be addressed? Yes. Did we address every single need? We tried to. I still think there's a couple areas where we need to continue to evaluate people on the team and if we get into that spring transfer window, if some talented people become available, then we will be aggressive in going after them. But we're never going to turn away a great player ever. And obviously, you want to address needs as they come up but this is the difference between college and the NFL. We're recruiting, not drafting so we've got to do a great job of recruiting and then also developing the guys that are in the program and identifying people who can help us win. And obviously, there's great players and other times, there's role players that we're identifying, but anybody that can help us win. But at the end of the day, you're not going to tell a great player that we don't want him because we're too deep at his position. We will never say that."

With QBs Sam Jackson and Ben Finley transferring out through the portal, the Bears brought in portal transfer QB Chandler Rogers‍ from North Texas as well as prep QB EJ Caminong‍ to restock the QB room. Wilcox was asked if the QB position would be open, despite redshirt soph QB Fernando Mendoza coming back as the returning starter.

"Well, I expect there to be competition there," Wilcox said. "Fernando did a did a real good job coming in as a freshman. midway through the season and becoming the starter I think he showed some really good things. There's also areas where he's got to continue to improve. I know he's working extremely hard. He is a driven guy and I think he's gonna continue to get better. "We love Fernando. He did a great job coming in as a freshman did some really good things. I think he's extremely competitive. He's smart. He's very, very tough. The guys on the team respect him and he's also got areas where he's got to continue to improve and he'd be the first one to tell you that. So at the end of the day, we have to we want competition at every single position and we're also not going to go into a season with one scholarship player at any position or even two. We've got to have depth, not only for competition sake but also for depth sake. 

“We also brought in Chandler, who's played at a high level in college and we brought EJ in as well. So we're gonna continue to bring in as many talented players as we can and then let the competition sort it but I'm pleased with the room and I'm looking forward to watching all those guys compete in the spring.

"Everybody is going to be given an opportunity, whether you're a freshman a transfer, whether you walked on and had no stars or you're a fourth year returning starter All-American. Everybody's going to get an opportunity because at the end of the day, we want the competition to set the depth chart. We feel good about that room and some other rooms as well and we've got to get out there on the field and let those things play out and develop."

The current recruiting calendar has become a complicated affair with the early signing period coming in the middle of finals and bowl season for many programs. Wilcox was asked if he’d like to see any changes from the current format.

"There's a lot of discussion about that right now," Wilcox said. "Early Signing Day, when when's the best time for that? You're not gonna get consensus across the country because people have different opinions on it for different reasons. But I think having an earlier signing day would be good. Getting these kind of those transfer windows, I know they're attempting to clean those up. I just think there's constantly going to be some discussion and maybe some new dates. I don't know when those might pop up. Because of the transfer windows and how early recruiting starts for the high school players, I think there's definitely room for an early signing date. And I know there's going to be concerns with that for different reasons, but I think it would be important just to to kind of normalize that winter recruiting schedule.

"We're gonna recruit whenever we're able to recruit, so the last few weeks we've been out on the road, looking at high school players, watching them and thinking about that 2025 class. The winter December window. December, early January, there's a lot of transfers. There's a lot of transfer recruiting going on, still some high school recruiting. So anytime that it's open, we're going to be out there recruiting because that's the lifeblood of the program and it's critical to our success."

Wilcox was also asked his thoughts on veteran DL Brett Johnson’s injury retirement. Wilcox also commented on center Brian Driscoll opting to move on with one year of eligibility remaining, purportedly to pursue law school options.

"Brett, what a warrior," Wilcox said. "He put a lot into this program and had some really unfortunate circumstances. Bad luck, if you could call it, with the injuries that he suffered along the way. Sorry that he had to go through that. He did a lot for us on the field. He's a really well-respected guy on the team. Forever will be a Cal Bear. We appreciate everything that he did and want to hel him in his future endeavors. But man, just a guy that's been through a lot and has persevered. He is one of those guys that's going to be able to handle really whatever adversity comes at him because of some of the things he went through here and so really appreciative of Brett and what he did here and and wishing him nothing but the best moving forward.

"Then Brian Driscoll, same thing. Just another guy that gave a lot to the program did a heck of a job for us, got the most out of himself I would tell you that. Brian worked extremely hard, physically, mentally to be prepared to play and I know he's got goals in life and he's he's going to be very successful just because of the work ethic and the toughness that he showed as a player here and also just the intellect. He's a very, very sharp guy and going to be real successful."

To wrap up the media session, Wilcox was asked about the team turning the corner after several close losses and moving on from a conference where they played several of the best teams in the country in the Pac-12’s final season in 2023.

"What equates to more wins is playing great football," Wilcox said. "So that's what we're focused on. We got the schedule. There's some excellent teams that we're going to be playing and some new faces in the stadium and we're gonna go to some different venues. But what's most important is we go play good football. We don't set the schedule, but I can tell you the ACC has some really, really good football teams. And I also know that that league traditionally - and I just learned this today - had the most one-score games than any league in the country. So there's a ton of really good football being played and they're very, very close and competitive games. So what's important for us is to go train this winter, have a great spring ball and continue to add and develop talent so we can go play our best ball to give ourselves the best chance to win as many games as possible."

Cal has already announced the first 28 members of its 2024 recruiting class including 18 who arrived in Berkeley last month and are expected to participate in the Golden Bears' 2024 spring football workouts that begin March 18.

Cal has 12 transfers already in Berkeley in WR Jonathan Brady (New Mexico State), RB Kadarius Calloway (Old Dominion), PK Ryan Coe (North Carolina), DB Isaiah Crosby (Trinity Valley Community College), DB Marcus Harris (Idaho), DL Aidan Keanaaina (Notre Dame), WR Mikey Matthews (Utah), WR Tobias Merriweather (Notre Dame), OL Rush Reimer (Montana State), QB Chandler Rogers (North Texas), DB Ja'Ir Smith (College of San Mateo) and OL Victor Stoffel (Temple).

Six high schoolers – DB Dayday Aupiu (Oxnard, CA/Pacific HS), DL BJ Canady (Topeka, KS/Topeka HS), LB Luke Ferrelli (Carlsbad, CA/Carlsbad HS), OL Tyler Knape (Austin, TX/Westlake HS), WR Josiah Martin (Corinth, TX/John H. Guyer HS) and LB Eze Osondu (Trophy Club, TX/Byron Nelson HS) – also joined the Bears last month.

Transfer ILB Teddye Buchanan (UC Davis) and nine high schoolers – QB EJ Caminong (Seattle, WA/Garfield HS), DB Brooklyn Cheek (Oakdale, CA/Central Catholic HS), OL Syris Corley (Taylor, TX/Taylor HS), TE Camden Jones (Pasadena, CA/Maranatha HS), DL Legend Journey (Arlington, TX/Summitt HS), OL Aiden Newbill (Austin, TX/Newbill HS), DL Michael-Anthony Okwur (Katy, TX/St. Thomas HS), WR Trevor Rogers (Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) and RB Jamaal Wiley (Stafford, TX/Stafford HS) – are scheduled to join the Bears in June.

Cal ranks as high as No. 8 nationally in the On3 transfer portal rankings for 2024 and has been as high as No. 6 in On3's team transfer portal rankings, while Buchanan (No. 6 linebacker, 247Sports), Harris (No. 7 cornerback, 247Sports), Matthews (No. 10 wide receiver, On3 Industry), Chandler Rogers (No. 10 quarterback, On3), Reimer (No. 14 offensive tackle, On3 Industry), Coe (No. 17 placekicker, On3) and Stoffel (No. 19 interior offensive lineman, On3) each have national top 20 rankings among transfer portal players for their position.

Smith is ESPN's second ranked junior college cornerback and 10th-best player overall, while Crosby is 247Sports' No. 5 JUCO safety. Caminong is ranked No. 26 among ESPN's top high school pocket passers and six others have their best position ranking among the top 60 prep players nationally at their position in Trevor Rogers (No. 38 wide receiver, On3), Jones (No. 44 tight end, 247Sports), Canady (No. 45 defensive lineman), Wiley (No. 50 running back, Rivals), Aupiu (No. 57 safety, ESPN) and Cheek (No. 59 safety, On3).

The recruiting class of 2024 includes an FCS AP All-American in Harris, a prep state champion in Trevor Rogers, and an experienced quarterback who has thrown for over 7,000 passing yards and 53 scores collegiately in Chandler Rogers.

Ten members of the 2024 recruiting class call Texas home, while seven are from California followed by two from Washington, and one each from Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The Bears also have one signee in Stoffel who hails from Stockholm, Sweden.

The group includes 15 on the offensive side of the ball (5 OL, 5 WR, 2 QB, 2 RB, 1 TE), 12 on defense (5 DB, 4 DL, 2 LB, 1 ILB) and one placekicker.

Visit CalBears.com to place a 2024 Cal football season-ticket deposit. Season-ticket holders receive benefits such as season parking, the ability to transfer, exchange, sell and purchase additional tickets, and much more.

Fans can also check out the Cal Athletic Fund online to support the Cal football program via the Championship CALiber initiative.

2024 Cal Football Recruiting Class Roster (As Of Feb. 6, 2024)
 
NAME – POS – HT – WT – YR – EXP – HOMETOWN (LAST SCHOOLS) – DATE ANNOUNCED
Dayday Aupiu – DB – 6-2 – 165 – Fr.# – 1st – Oxnard, CA (Pacifica HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Jonathan Brady – WR – 5-10 – 175 – Jr.# – 3rd – Las Vegas, NV (New Mexico State/Bishop Gorman HS) – Jan. 12, 2024
Teddye Buchanan – ILB – 6-2 – 235 – Sr. – 5th – San Francisco, CA (UC Davis/St. Ignatius College Prep) – Dec. 20, 2023
Kadarius Calloway – RB – 6-0 – 215 – Sr.# – 4th – Philadelphia, MI (Old Dominion/East Mississippi Community College/Alabama/Philadelphia HS) – Jan. 10, 2024
EJ Caminong – QB – 6-2 – 205 – Fr. – 1st – Seattle, WA (Garfield HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
BJ Canady – DL – 6-5 – 270 – Fr. – 1st# – Topeka, KS (Topeka HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Brooklyn Cheek – DB – 6-1 – 195 – Fr. – 1st – Oakdale, CA (Central Catholic HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Ryan Coe – PK – 6-3 – 240 – R-Sr.^# – 6th – McDonald, PA (North Carolina/Cincinnati/Delaware/South Fayette HS) – Jan. 10, 2024
Syris Corley – OL – 6-4 – 290 – Fr. – 1st – Taylor, TX (Taylor HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Isaiah Crosby – DB – 5-10 – 175 – Jr.# – 4th – Manor, TX (Trinity Valley Community College/Manor HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Luke Ferrelli – LB – 6-3 – 220 – Fr.# – 1st – Carlsbad, CA (Carlsbad HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Marcus Harris – DB – 5-11 – 185 – Sr.^# – 6th – Portland, OR (Idaho/Oregon State/Grant HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Camden Jones – TE – 6-6 – 240 – Fr. – 1st – Pasadena, CA (Maranatha HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Legend Journey – DL – 6-2 – 240 – Fr. – 1st – Arlington, TX (Summit HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Aidan Keanaaina – DL – 6-3 – 320 – R-Jr.# – 4th – Brighton, CO (Notre Dame/J.K. Mullen HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Tyler Knape – OL – 6-4 – 285 – Fr.# – 1st – Austin, TX (Westlake HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Josiah Martin – WR – 5-11 – 170 – Fr.# – 1st – Corinth, TX (John H. Guyer HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Mikey Matthews – WR – 5-9 – 180 – So.# – 2nd – Irvine, CA (Utah/Mission Viejo HS) – Jan. 10, 2024
Tobias Merriweather – WR – 6-5 – 190 – Jr.# – 3rd – West Camas, WA (Notre Dame/Union HS) – Dec. 21, 2023
Aiden Newbill – OL – 6-8 – 285 – Fr. – 1st – Austin, TX (Connally HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Michael-Anthony Okwura – DL – 6-2 – 260 – Fr. – 1st – Katy, TX (St. Thomas HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Eze Osondu – LB – 6-2 – 215 – Fr.# – 1st – Trophy Club, TX (Byron Nelson HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Rush Reimer – OL – 6-5 – 300 – Sr.^# – 5th – Camas, WA (Montana State/Camas HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Chandler Rogers – QB – 6-0 – 200 – Sr.^# – 6th – Mansfield, TX (North Texas/Louisiana-Monroe/Blinn College/Lake Ridge HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Trevor Rogers – WR – 6-3 – 185 – Fr. – 1st – Lafayette, CA (Acalanes HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Ja'ir Smith – DB – 6-1 – 185 – Jr.# – 4th – Charlotte, NC (College of San Mateo/Mallard Creek HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
Victor Stoffel – OL – 6-7 – 295 – R-Sr.^# – 6th – Stockholm, Sweden (Temple/Kungstens Gymnasiet) – Jan. 11, 2024
Jamaal Wiley – RB – 6-0 – 225 – Fr. – 1st – Stafford, TX (Stafford HS) – Dec. 20, 2023
^Includes eligibility waiver granted by the NCAA for the 2020 season due to COVID-19; #Mid-year enrollee arrived at Cal in January 2024

Related:

Bears Add Houston Cornerback Khamani Hudson

Florida Punter Bobby Engstler Talks About His Commitment to Cal

Discussion from...

Bear Insider Video: Cal Football 2024 National Signing Day

3,311 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by MoragaBear
blungld
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Thanks for the reporting.

I must say I dearly miss the build up and reveal of Signing Day and this whirlwind of comings and goings is tough to follow and must be hard on everyone involved. A coach can't really develop a young man as person when they can leave at any moment, or perhaps run away from hardship or challenge. I sure wish that commitment meant for 5 years unless something dramatic happened, AND that it was a two way street with coaches having far greater obstacles to leaving for greener pastures without consequence. Sometimes the free market kills what made the market interesting and valuable to begin with.

"The Bear will not quilt, the Bear will not dye!"
TruffleShuffle
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Jim, will there be a SoCal recruiting event this year?
MoragaBear
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Staff
TruffleShuffle said:

Jim, will there be a SoCal recruiting event this year?
I'm sure there will be. It's been in the summer in recent years.
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