I may really regret doing this in a few days time, just because of how long this takes. But I thought it'd be helpful for Bearswithfangs.com to officially welcome in this year's recruiting class by taking a look at each player. I've broken down a little bit of the background, their scouting profiles, and when and what we should expect out of the players in the next few years.
This is going to be a bit lengthy, so I've decided to start with our future offensive skill players. I'll get to our solid offensive line group in the next few days, and probably address the defense next week.
Enjoy, and let me know what questions you might have about each player in the comment box, and I'll try my best to address them.
Allan Bridgford – Quarterback (Mission Viejo, CA)
QB Guru Tedford felt pretty comfortable with Allan Bridgford as his QB of the future, and Bridgford felt the same way, committing to the Bears during his Junior Year. Bridgford told the coaching staff not to recruit any more quarterbacks, confident in his abilities to b the next QB protégé at Cal. His credentials certainly back it up that confidence.
Bridgford is Tedford’s fourth consecutive Elite 11 Camp QB, finishing 3rd in the MVP voting, and second in the four-day accuracy challenge. As a three year starter at Mission Viejo High, Bridgford also crushed the single season record for TD passes with 38, previously set by Mark Sanchez, who had 29 TDs in 14 games in 2004. With numerous other records broken, the All-American finished the 2008 season with over 3,000 yards passing.
Check out his mechanics.
Things to Be Excited About
Bridgford is a fundamentally sound, prototypical pro-passer, in the model of previous Tedford QBs. He features good size, standing at 6’3, 215 pounds and pretty good arm strength, although not quite Kyle Boller-esque. Bridgford has shown about the prettiest touch I’ve seen out of a high school QB in a while. He can really fit the ball just about anywhere, particularly over the heads of linebackers into tight coverage, and is about as accurate as you can ask for. He isn’t much of a threat to take off with the ball, but shows good pocket presence and is quick to throw the ball away if pressured. He is really a timing and rhythm passer, who excels most on short-intermediate routes, and appears to be a smart student of the game.
Areas of Concern
It’s strange, although Bridgford has a quick release, it is a bit of a windup one that makes it seem as if his passes take a bit longer to get out. While displaying good touch, a number of his passes will get picked off at the collegiate level if he can’t show a tad more zip. He also hasn’t shown a big enough arm to be a true vertical threat just yet. As a rhythm passer, Bridgford relies heavily on his timing with his receivers, and can force passes at times if it’s not there, made apparent when he struggled during his Army All-American performance working out with brand new receivers.
You can’t help but not feel secure with Bridgford as a future Cal quarterback. Most of all the physical skills are there, and he seems heady enough to be ready to take on Tedford’s offensive system. My estimation is that Bridgford will really challenge for the starting spot in 2011.
Dasarte Yarnway – Runningback (San Francisco, CA)
The Bears finally have the big back the team has been lacking since Marshawn Lynch left early for the NFL at the end of the 2006 season. Yarnway will easily be the Bears’ biggest runningback next fall, standing at 6’0, 215 pounds. Dasarte isn’t a slouch in the speed department either, running a 4.5 forty, which he looks to improve in coming years. And his name is badass.
Yarnway was a productive back for Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, carving up more 2,180 yards on the ground for 22 TDs, and led his team to the first playoff appearance in 40 years. Even more impressive than his numbers though, is Yarnway’s character and the way the young man has carried himself as a leader both on and off the field after losing his father at a young age.
Things to Be Excited About
Yarnway has great vision when hitting the hole, and while not the shiftiest runner, shows good moves in getting through a hole with good speed and strength. He also demonstrates good balance, and his compact frame helps him break arm and lower-body tackles. Yarnway runs with a bit of an upright style, similar to Adrian Peterson, without the same speed. All in all, he’s a downhill runner by nature, who can really do some damage once he bursts through a hole.
Areas of Concern
Despite his size, Yarnway isn’t really a move the pile type of back. So, Cal fans hoping for the second coming of Lynch (who ran like he was allergic to turf) in this category might be disappointed. Also, while I do expect Yarnway to improve his speed, he will have to improve his speed if he’s going to develop any type of east-west running game. As it stands, his speed is a bit more akin to what we saw from Justin Forsett, running in the mid 4.5 range.
I would be VERY surprised to see Yarnway take the field this year. The redshirt path seems like the most likely scenario for Yarnway, with Best, Vereen, Slocum, and Deboskie (who might surprise some people) ahead of him on the depth chart. However, given Yarnway’s physical skills and potential, Bears fans will be incredibly grateful to have some thunder, after a couple of years of Best and Vereen’s lightning. I’m also really impressed by his character, and feel he’ll be one of the team’s leaders in a few years.
Isi Sofele – All-Purpose Back (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Those who follow college football recruiting have been buzzing about the somewhat unknown back. Perhaps it’s because they can’t help themselves from expressing their excitement in nabbing one of the more dynamic high school players in the nation.
The diminutive Sofele, stands just 5’7, 170 pounds, but Sofele shows the type of game breaking talent that might make it too tempting not to have him on the field in some capacity. Sofele was an all-purpose back at Cottonwood, rushing for 1,916 yards and 30 TDs also added 19 receptions for 300 yards and four TDs, while also excelling in the return game.
In other words, the kid is a human highlight reel waiting to happen.
Things to be Excited About
Sofele was the definition of a sleeper recruit. He probably fell under the radar because of his size (much like Jacquizz Rodgers did, and we know how that turned out), but shows incredible burst getting through the hole, and can slice, dice, and cut with the best of them. Sofele can shows great lateral quickness and elusiveness, while also showing uncanny decision making and second-gear in finding his north-south seams. All it takes is one angle before the kid goes the distance. Sofele also reportedly has great hands and might flourish a slot receiver for the Bears in the next couple of years.
Areas of Concern
Duh, size. It’s not so much Sofele’s height, but also his frame which makes it unlikely that Sofele can ever really be an every down back. He hasn’t shown any real ability to gain yards after carry, and is more of a threat in open space. Taylor Mays would probably raze Sofele in a one-on-one matchup.
Sofele has a real good chance of playing right away as a true freshman. Barring any injury, I’d say it’s pretty darn likely actually. He’s just too dynamic and versatile for him not to be on the field. Expect to see Sofele as a gunner, slot receiver, punt or kickoff return man, or gain some yards on sweeps. Mark my words, in the same way I told my friends to pay attention as soon as Jahvid Best took the field against Tennessee in 2007, I’ll be saying the same as soon as Sofele trots on the field. He won’t be a sleeper for much longer.
Markish Jones – Wide Receiver (Compton, CA)
Markish Jones has a bit of storied past, which I’ve already chronicled briefly here.
Again, while it would have been nice and dandy to have landed Adam Hall or Randall Carroll, I’m pumped about the addition of Jones to Cal’s receiving corps. “We’re fortunate to get him,” Coach Tedford Stated of Jones during his press conference. “He’s a guy who is probably the most talented of the guys we were looking at all along, as far as his combination of speed and hands and athleticism. So we’re really, really happy to have him.”
I believe him.
Jones has got all of the talent to become a premier receiver. He features legitimate track speed, with some reports having him as fast as Jahvid Best. Let that sink for a moment. A receiver with that type of speed? So says these reports. Whether they’re true can be investigated, but the point that it’s even a possibility should be fairly eye opening. Either way, the kid has legit 4.4 speed and apparently catches everything thrown his way. He’s also on the bigger end for a receiver at 6’1 , 190 pounds.
Things to be Excited About
Scouting reports can’t stop raving about Jones’ hands and his ability to make plays. He shows no fear going into the middle or catching tough balls in traffic. His speed makes him a legit vertical threat, and Jones has enough size and athleticism to go up for jump balls. His JC experience has helped him even further his already polished receiving skills, to avoid getting jammed off the line and getting cleanly out of his breaks. The kid’s going to be a playmaker.
Areas of Concern
Not too many so far. One has to remember that Jones was a top 4-star recruit before his fallout at Clemson. That might be the only concern. Jones will have to show a better focus on academics than he did in high school, after failing to qualify for his scholarship due to low SAT scores. Most JC transfers have flourished at Cal though, so as long as Jones holds his end of the deal, he’s got a good chance to make a name for himself while getting a premier degree.
While he flew under a few radars having been on the JC scene, Jones has the chance to make his name known in the next few years. Jones actually has three years to play three seasons, and given that no receiver has yet to firmly solidify a starting spot, Jones has an opportunity to play immediately, depending on how smoothly and quickly he transitions to playing Pac-10 football.