Recruiting is a complex process, as Cal coach Jeff Tedford explained after unveiling 21 recruits this week.
Tedford showed highlight films of the players to the media, but said that’s just part of the process.
“We watch a lot of game tapes because we want to see what players do when they’re not making
highlight-film plays,” he said. “If we see a player not following through on his block, for instance, we don’t want him because we want players who work hard all the time.”
Assistants also go to games.
“You can see the emotion of a game in a way that doesn’t come through on tape,” Tedford said. “If a player loses his temper under pressure, you want to know that.”
In Tedford’s offense, running backs are often used as receivers, so one of the things he looks for in backs is pass-catching ability. One recruit who really sparkled in the highlights was running back Covaughn Deboskie, a 6-foot, 190-pounder who made some outstanding catches on passes well downfield.
“In high school, most backs just catch swing passes,” Tedford noted. “It’s a much different thing to catch a pass downfield, but Covaughn seems to do that well.”
Deboskie will enter Cal this semester, so he’ll be participating in spring drills, which start the last week of March. With that headstart, he has a chance to play as a freshman instead of redshirting, though the Bears are deep at running back. Jahvid Best, who is rehabilitating a hip injury, is expected to be ready for summer camp, though he’ll be held out in the spring. Carl Montgomery and Shane Vereen, who redshirted last season, are returning.
Asked if that competition worried Deboskie, Tedford said no.
“He sees Justin Forsett, who carried the big load, leaving and he has the confidence to think he can beat out the other guys.”
When Tedford came to Cal, he said he would emphasize recruiting from the inside out, concentrating first on getting Bay Area preps. Now, he has modified that approach, also bringing in top preps from other states.
“That’s what winning does for you,” he said. “When we were coming off a 1-10 season [Tom Holmoe’s last season in 2001], it was hard to get anybody in here. Winning opens a lot of doors. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still working to get Bay Area kids, but we’re also looking for players on the national level.”
One example of the difference: Cal got two top players from the same school in Chandler, Ariz. — Deboskie and four-star defensive back Marc Anthony.
Losing makes a difference, too. When the Bears lost six of seven after a 5-0 start last season, many top prospects looked elsewhere. The recruiting Web sites mostly rank Cal between 30th and 35th nationally and sixth in the Pac-10 Conference.
Still, Tedford was upbeat about his recruits, talking about filling all his team’s needs, especially with five wide receivers. The best is Marvin Jones, a four-star recruit with speed and size, 6-3, 185 pounds.
“Our [incoming] receivers are bigger and stronger than what we’ve had,” Tedford said.
It’s important to remember that the recruiting process is uncertain as well as complex. This recruiting class has depth and it seems to have enough quality to keep the good times going at Cal and prove that last season was an aberration.