Recruiting Maps for Cal, Tedford Era

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, February 17th, 2008

After drawing conclusions about the entire Pac-10 recruiting efforts (and one of my commenters has provided a similar 2008 Big Ten map, kudos to him), it’s time to take a historical perspective of Coach Tedford’s impact on the program (labels: blue dot-2002, yellow dot-2003, blue pin-2004, yellow pin-2005, blue no dot-2006, yellow no dot-2007, sky blue-2008). If everything isn’t showing up correctly, click here and navigate accordingly.

Bay Area map

You’ll see that other than the first year (2002, coming off the Holmoe era) and the last (now), Cal’s presence in the Bay was fairly dominant. Throughout the middle, Cal was able to land JCs from the local community colleges (including The Hawk and Desmond Bishop), and gain the inside track on highly touted recruits like Jahvid Best and Marshawn Lynch. This year didn’t land any big local names, but we came out okay.

Los Angeles map

Yeah, this year sucked here. Almost inevitable that UCLA, ASU and USC would dominate this landscape. But you can see that in the past, whenever Cal makes a huge jump (2002 & 2004 in particular, 2006 less so), the result is big reapings from La-La land (DeSean, Stevens, Mebane, Hughes all landed at Cal during those years). However, we have an inordinate amount of talent from 2006 raring to go next year from the LA area, including corner Chris Conte. So hopefully that’ll offset this year’s losses and turn the ship around in SoCal.

Here’s what I found.

The I-5 California corridor still provides a steady influx, although the Bears have only exerted minimal influence on Sacramento (the three big recruits from the area–Worrell Williams, Syd’Quan Thompson, and James Montgomery–will fill big roles next year). You can see the inordinate numbers from Fresno–Tedford’s roots in action. Unfortunately those Fresno roots have insofar only produced Zack Follett as bona fide. But Aaron Rodgers also originated from the corridor, so that makes up for everything else.

Cal had the biggest reach in 2007 when they came one win away from the Rose Bowl, nabbing recruits from New Jersey and Illinois. The reach is still substantial enough in 2008, leading us to believe Tedford’s national status remains fairly credible.

Despite the lesser amount of coveted four/five star recruits, Cal continues to find new places to expand. Phoenix, Houston and Kansas City provided the inroads for the new Golden Bear athletes of ’08. And the steady foothold Tedford is establishing in Texas (first Forsett, then Mansion, now Hill and Payne) could be a good sign for the long-term.

All in all, there’s a relative consistency between performance in the regular season and the subsequent star level of the coming offseason recruits; when the team sinks, so does the supposed guaranteed talent (like Joe Ayoob–yes, a five star). Most importantly, Cal would need to suffer several bad campaigns for the Bears to fall off the map in the Pac-10; the recruiting classes have been that deep the last several years, and you’d expect at least a return to form in 2008 (nothing terribly wrong with an eight-nine win season), if correlation between recruiting class and onfield performance holds up.

There are a few big high schools I’ve noticed that churned out great talent for the Bears–Crenshaw HS in LA provided Daymeion Hughes and Brendan Mebane, Hayward HS Robert Jordan and Phillip Mbakogu (a powerful force in 2005 before a knee injury derailed his career), Bernard Hicks and Robert Peele from Edison High as well. But it’s the continuing domination of the JCs (which provided Rulon Davis, Nuu Tafisi, Andrew Larson, Mickey Pimentel, Mike Gibson along with Bishop and Hawkins) that has provided the bulwark of talent Cal has needed. As long as Tedford can recruit well among the JCs, there should be relative stability in Strawberry Canyon.

As usual, I encourage blogs of other teams to try documenting the growth of their recruiting development. It’s a lot of fun, and not terribly difficult (only takes a few hours and can be finished in a week or so). You’ll probably learn a little bit about how recruiting on the macro scale certainly adds up.

Any differing or new thoughts on the state of Cal recruiting (plus spot the errors)? Provide your insight in the comments.

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