The California Golden Bears landed a big-time recruit, as 4-star athlete and linebacker Devante Downs announced his verbal commitment to head coach Sonny Dykes.
Justin Hopkins of 247Sports provides the news:
The Cal commit list just got even better today. Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) athlete Devante Downs added his four-star talents to the list and committed to the Bears...
... 'I really liked it when I was down there,' [Devante] Downs said. 'My mom went to and she liked it as well. I like the coaches and how they use their system.'
... Downs will be brought in as an athlete including a shot at running back.
Downs played his high school ball at Mountlake Terrace High School in Washington state, and took snaps as a running back, a linebacker and a safety for the Hawks during his junior season. He also had offers from Stanford, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah and Boise State.
According to 247Sports' rankings, Downs ranks much higher as an overall prospect than his composite score. He's listed as the No. 84 player in the country, No. 6 outside linebacker and No. 2 player in the state of Washington for the 2014 class in the initial rankings, while the composite marks rank him No. 229, No. 18 and No. 2, respectively.
Listed as an athlete on his highlight tape, Downs has shown an ability to contribute on both sides of the ball.
A 6'3", 230-pound bruiser, Downs has been a matchup nightmare for high school defenses when he's in the backfield. He is currently too fast for defensive lineman, too shifty for linebackers and too strong for defensive backs. He has a nice burst out of the backfield, and has ideal size to be a power back at the next level.
He also shows extreme potential on defense, where his wide frame and speed off the edge would be vital to the Pac-12 offenses he will see on a weekly basis. While it's clear that Downs is a talented back, his long-term future (thinking NFL) will likely benefit more from making the full-time switch to defense.
If you're itching to check out Cal's newest recruit, you can pencil in the U.S. Army All American Bowl as a prime opportunity to check out his skills (via MTHSports on Twitter):
Downs might not have a set position when he comes to campus next fall, but his skills on both sides of the ball will be a huge coup for Dykes. While he'll get a shot at running back, fans should assume he'll be used as a linebacker.
Verbal commitments are non-binding, and the first day a 2014 recruit can sign his National Letter of Intent (NLI) is Feb. 5, 2014 (h/t NCAA.org).