It is nearly August: time to prepare for the vibrations of Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoons and nights.
Every year at about this time, I get back in college football mode, especially for Cal football. I'm looking into the future in addition to the present and examining the 2010 recruiting class, even if it is still very early.
As of right now, the Golden Bears have landed commitments from three four-star players: outside linebacker Nick Forbes, defensive tackle Jay Guy, and quarterback Austin Hinder.
Forbes was named to the Scout.com All-Combine Team "for his performance at the Army All-American combine in January 2009." He also had offers from Stanford, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Wake Forest among others.
Jay Guy, the No. 13 ranked Defensive Tackle, had offers from Michigan, UCLA, and Missouri, just to name a few.
Lastly, Austin Hinder, another solid QB recruit to come to Cal, is the No. 16 ranked quarterback. At 6-foot-5, he has good size. At the same time, he only weighs 180 lbs.
Hinder led his high school team to a 7-4 record last season. During the season he completed 90-of-134 passes for 1,228 yards with 16 touchdowns.
Hinder turned down offers from schools such as Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford, and UCLA.
The Bears have also landed commitments from three-star center Chris Adcock—No.8 at his position—and two three-star middle linebackers: Dave Wilkerson (No.10) and Cecil Whiteside (No.14).
In total, California has landed nine commitments, but they are still in the running for some of the elite prospects in America. This includes five-star running back Malcolm Jones (No.3) and five-star defensive end Gabe King (No.5).
2010 should be a strong year for the Bears' recruiting class. They have chance to crack the top 10 in recruiting rankings.
Looking at the upcoming '09 season, the obvious strength for Cal is their running game with lightning-fast Jahvid Best and his over-qualified backup Shane Vereen. In addition, Covaughn Deboskie should get some quality playing time and should be a centerpiece of the offense in the coming years.
The group of receivers should only improve over last year with more experience, especially from guys like Marvin Jones and Mike Calvin.
One of the biggest questions heading into the season is starting quarterback Kevin Riley played well in the tragic game against Oregon St. in 2007 and in the Armed Forces Bowl on New Years Eve the same year. Last year, however, he struggled to find consistency throughout the year. That may have been partly because Riley had to keep looking over his shoulder to see Jeff Tedford give Nate Longshore too many chances.
This year Riley is the most likely choice to try and bring the Bears back to the top of the Pac-10, but sophomore Brock Mansion is also a possibility.
The defense, a major strength in '08, will have to rebuild after the loss of linebackers Zack Follett and Anthony Felder; but the pieces are still there to be built around.
In the end, I imagine that the Bears will have a season similar to '08, but it may be even more difficult since it is an odd-numbered year. In past odd-numbered years under Tedford, the Bears have finished 8-6, 8-4, and 7-6. The team's two best years under the coach came in '04 (10-2) and '06 (10-3).