California Recruiting: Overview of Linebackers and a Sleeper Bears Should Target

Matt WagnerCorrespondent IIJanuary 16, 2013

College football programs around the nation are looking to make their final pitches to recruits before they sign on the dotted line come national signing day on Feb. 6, and the California Golden Bears have a solid pool of talent heading into the all-important deadline.

With 4-star running back Khalfani Muhammad headlining the 27th-ranked class in the country, according to Rivals, the Bears are in decent shape. 

However, this article will look at just the linebackers that make up Cal's recruiting class, and one sleeper that could benefit the Golden Bears should he opt to sign with them. 

Cal has verbal commitments from two 3-star linebackers: Victor Egu (De La Salle/Concord, Calif.) and Chad Whitener (Mansfield/Mansfield, Texas). 

Egu is an excellent linebacker that is best utilized as a pass-rusher, establishing himself as the defensive leader on the national powerhouse De La Salle Spartans. In addition, Egu has exceptional instincts and is great at diagnosing run versus pass plays (and vice versa). As a result, he is very rarely fooled on the play-action. He is not much of an interception threat in coverage, although he can be serviceable in those situations. 

Whitener also isn't much of a threat in coverage, but he has exceptional speed and is able to neutralize running quarterbacks and help out on the blitz. 

Egu and Whitener are the two that have committed, but there is one underrated linebacker that Golden Bears head coach Sonny Dykes should take a look at. 

Anthony Costleigh (Valencia/Valencia, Calif.) is an unheralded linebacker nationally, although I feel that he is one of the better linebackers in Southern California.

Costleigh was one of the best players on Valencia's team this season and was named the 2012 Foothill League Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named to the L.A. Daily News' All-Area Team. 

Costleigh proved himself to be a dual-threat for Valencia, intercepting five passes and recording 91 tackles on the season. He's an extremely underrated linebacker and I feel he could make an impact for the Golden Bears, although not immediately. He will most likely have to redshirt his freshman season and may not get consistent playing time as a starter until his junior year, but he could have a big impact for California when he does receive an opportunity. 

The Golden Bears' need for a linebacker down the road leads me to believe that Costleigh would be an excellent weapon to add to their roster.