The Cal football team signed the nation’s top-ranked safety in Keenan Allen on Wednesday—that we know.
Here’s what we didn’t: Allen will play wide receiver.
The former Alabama commit, considered the best defensive back in the country according to Rivals.com and fifth best player in the country, spurned the national champions and faxed his national letter of intent to the Bears Wednesday, joining his half-brother Zach Maynard—who will transfer from Buffalo—and former high school teammate Chris McCain.
The surprise additions of the Greensboro, N.C. trio, along with defensive end Gabe King of South Eugene, were enough to push Cal head coach Jeff Tedford’s 2010 recruiting class to Top-12 status nationally.
Maybe the bigger surprise, though, is where Allen will fit in.
Hours after media outlets across the country had heralded the Bears defensive additions, Tedford clarified in a 2 PM news conference from Memorial Stadium that the nation’s top-rated defensive back will spend a majority of his time on the offensive side of the ball.
“He’s going to play receiver,” Tedford said. “He’s equally as effective on both sides of the football. But he’s primarily a receiver here.”
Allen, who will also play defensive back in certain nickel situations, made 145 tackles and eight interceptions during the fall. He scored a gaudy 53 offensive touchdowns, helping lead Northern Guilford to a 12-2 record and the school’s first conference championship (3A Mid-State).
“I remember years ago with Lavelle and Desean, you look at the back-to-back highlight reels,” he said. “It’s very similar to that.”
The Bears need all the help they can get. Their leading wideout, Marvin Jones, finished 11th in the conference in receiving yards (651) a year after Nyan Boateng led the Bears with 439 receiving yards (21st in the Pac-10).
In addition to Allen, the Bears also shored up the defensive side of the ball starting with Chris Martin's reversal from Notre Dame.
“A lot of the focus was on the linebacking corps and wide receivers. We couldn’t be happier with the group of linebackers we have,” Tedford said. “Top to bottom this is as solid as any class we’ve had here.”
Grant Marek covered the Cal football team from 2003-2005 and has written for Sports Illustrated, the San Francisco Examiner, and Daily Californian, among others. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org