The second part of my evening with Tedford (and a bunch of aging, nerdy men, for whom I am a protege) consisted of a highlight montage of the new recruits laid to "sick beats" (I think that’s what the kids are saying these days). There were the standard, interchangeable rap songs without too many expletives, a few hearty rock numbers, and my favorite, the "10% song." I’m positive You know the 10% song. It is used in virtually every sports montage, highlight collection, or movie trailer ("It’s 10 percent luck, 20 percent skill, 30 percent concentrated power of will," I think). There are probably 10 different percentile groups, up to one hundred ("100 percent something something remember the name?") and then this chorus of sorts repeats, 28 times. That’s the song.
What struck me upon hearing it this time wasn’t the usual "damn it, not this song again," or even involuntary recollections of The Rock in various inspirational roles. I realized that the song is actually an instructional guide to those of us without
much athletic ability; this is the secret on how to succeed in sports, handed down straight from either athletic champions or cynical music executives. I could virtually picture TwistNHook preparing for his intramural badminton match by furiously taking notes on this song ("What percent concentrated power of will? What percent??? Thank God there are 17 more cycles coming up!")
TwistNHook, Circa 2001
Tedford rolled the tape and, for our benefit, began commenting on the highlights. High school highlights aren’t very useful for casual fans, because the players who move on to D1 ball are pretty much all stars of their teams and areas. People like DeSean, Marshawn, and Jahvid certainly stand out more than usual, but basically everyone recruited by top BCS programs looks dominant on tape. That’s why it’s nice to have Tedford there, pointing out the subtle things he looks for in recruits. We see the interceptions and big hits; he notes things like "great leverage" and "quick hips."
Defensive linemen were the first group, and Kendrick Payne led off. He looked good on tape, but Tedford’s quote was better: "I can’t believe how much he reminds me of Mebane." This made me giddy. It looks like our own HydroTech knows what he’s talking about after all. Tedford ended the Mebane comparison by noting that Payne even has Mebane’s "big ‘ol booty." I never really noticed Mebane’s butt (the girls all thought uberhot David Lonie had the best one), but if Tedford likes it on Payne, I like.
Trevor Guyton from my great state of Washington was next. Tedford remarked that Guyton "has the stature to play early on." Tedford also underscored Guyton’s fitness and athleticism by noting that, when an offensive linemen went down before the offense-defense all american bowl, Gutyon played both ways for most of the game. When Guyton came free off the line to make a big hit, elliciting "ooohhs" from the audience, Tedford noted he looks "really good when no one blocks him."
Our last d-linemen, Aaron Tipoti is "quick," allowing him to play both "inside and outside." I know that Tedford, Gregory, and Lupoi value versatility in their d-linemen, but I’ve heard this about a fair amount of Cal d-linemen in recent years (Alualu, Cody Jones, and Abu for starters), and none of them seem as effective as recent players who are either clearly defensive ends (Riddle) or defensive tackles (Mebane). I’m hopeful that one of these guys will turn into a bigger Riddle or a Mebane with defensive end speed, but for now I can’t shake the feeling that they’re tweeners and good at both positions but not dominant at either.
The DBs were next, and the first clips were of our highest rated corner, Marc Anthony. "He’ll hit you and he has great ball skills." That sounds pretty good. Personally, I’m just excited to see J-Lo in a pink Cal jersey. Well, maybe if it was 2000 and you could somehow turn this into a jersey.
Hopefully Marc Anthony will be just as effective picking up errant passes as he is at picking up fast fading superstars.
Josh Hill, DT Kendrick Payne’s teammate, was next; Tedford mentioned that he plays with "great leverage" and that he "reminds me of D Hughes." HydroTech, are you Tedford?
The third DB was Juco transfer Kamaron Yancy. Tedford likes his "quick hips," and like J-Lo’s husband, he’ll "come up and hit you."
Last was Chris Little, who will play safety. Little is a local kid and looked physically dominant (read: big and fast) in his clips. Tedford called him "Big Chris."
Rounding out the the defense were the two linebackers, JP Hurrell and Mychal Kendricks. Tedford called both of them "intense" and said they "could run". He went one step farther with Kendricks ("he can really run") and called him possibly the "most athletic guy at [the] Palo Alto [Nike Camp]." On Hurrell: "He has great instincts" and "a little nastiness" in his game.
Before moving on to the offensive, we were treated to highlights of our specialist, long snapper Matt Rios. Watching highlights of someone snapping the ball is like watching…well, I can’t really think of an appropriate comparison in another sport. Maybe watching highlights of a pitcher trying to pick someone off first base, only the bases happen to be empty. To top it off, the camera angles in this amatuer footage are terrible and the image is out of focus, so you can barely see the ball, and the camera doesn’t follow the kick (since it’s trying to promote the long snapper), so you don’t find out if they make the field goal or tackle the punt returner. Rios went to the same high school as current Cal long snapper Nick Sundberg (apparently there is a long snapping expert at some high school in Arizona) and is considered one of the best in country. Tedford told us that the position "is important to us" so they "gave him a scholarship," which seems to imply that this is not usually done. Regardless, we’ve got one of the best in the business coming to Cal, so look forward to some awesome long snapping highlights!
Following Great Moments in Long Snapping, the Top 25 Uncontested Inbounds Passes!
We started on the o-line with our incoming center, Dominic Galas. Hydrotech reasonably speculated that Cal recruited Galas as an insurance policy in case Alex Mack decided to go pro. It turns out that Galas is an insurance policy - for last year’s center recruit, Todd Huber, who has not yet recovered from a knee injury. Sorry Hydro, you can’t win em all.
Tedford used the adjective "intense" on multiple occasions to describe Galas, which is a quality I’d like my center to have. Tedford also noted his similarities to Mack in high school, as both were champion wrestlers and looked similar in "flatbacking" opponents.
On offensive tackle Tyler Rigsbee, the first commit of the class: "He’s 280 pounds now, he’ll play at 320 someday. He’s very athletic."
Tight end Spencer Ladner, one of the highest rated recruits in the class is "at 225 now, [and] needs to be at 255 to play." He has a "great frame." Anthony Miller, while not as highly regarded, is "more ready to play" and "can come in and compete right away."
Tedford noted that quarterback Beau Sweeney "can run a little bit." No word yet on whether or not he can avoid back-breaking fourth quarter interceptions (zing!)
Marvin Jones (or "Marv," as Tedford called him) has "great body control and hands." To me, he looked like the complete package - big enough, strong, fast, agile, two hands. He also has "great range jumping" for the ball, as does Charles Satchell. Tedford also like what Satchell does "with the ball in his hands." (Again, note the plural hands).
Jarrett Sparks is the most physical of the 5 big receivers, and Tedford clearly envisions him "blocking and going over the middle." Sparks has the "physical tools to contribute right away."
Verran Tucker looked the best on video (Tedford: "fluid, smooth") of all the receivers. He was great catching the ball and making people miss after he caught it. That’s putting it pretty simply, but it looks like a nice formula.
The last receiver was Joe Washington, and Tedford pointed out what was very evident: "he can really run [and he has] a great stride."
The last clips were of Covaughn Deboskie, the lone incoming running back. Maybe he will help with our goal-line woes, as he is "physical for just coming out of high school," and that since enrolling in January (he and Kendrick Payne are already on campus) "he looks bigger already." He’s also had a "nice transition academically."
So there you have it. All 21 of our new recruits (9 Defense, 11 offense, one very long snapper) in buzzword glory. If you want more information on this band of characters, here’s the bear insider commitment list. If this strikes you as way too much hype and information for very uncertain results, take comfort that Ragnarok does too. And if you want to find out what Tedford said about this season, Nasty Nate, the stadium, the lack of pass rush, new coaches, the media, who’s hurt, and which linebacker wants to play fullback, check back in a few days for my final installment on 17 year olds.