BERKELEY — Coach Sonny Dykes is pleased with California’s recruiting class even if the ranking didn’t live up to his lofty prediction.
Dykes brought in a top 50 class on national signing day Wednesday that finished in the bottom half of the Pac-12 despite coming off a one-win season. Dykes had said in December that he would be shocked if the Golden Bears didn’t have one of the top three classes in the Pac-12.
Cal managed to hold on to talented running back Tre Watson and make some key defensive additions late after the hiring of defensive coordinator Art Kaufman last month.
“This was a solid recruiting class on the heels of a tough season,” Dykes said.
Cal’s class was ranked 45th by Rivals and 43rd by Scout. Both recruiting services pegged the Bears eighth in the conference, failing to achieve Dykes’ prediction of a top three ranking.
“I think that’s the kind of class we ought to have,” Dykes said. “I think you judge this class three or four years from now. I don’t know how you rate them right now.”
The final player to commit to Cal’s class was three-star outside linebacker Hamilton Anoa’i from San Mateo. Anoa’i had been committed to Northwestern before the late switch gave the Bears another potential defensive playmaker.
Anoa’i joins other late commitments like receiver Erik Brown and linebackers Chandler Leniu and Aisea Tongilava, who signed with Cal after committing earlier to other schools.
Adding depth at linebacker was a priority this recruiting season. Cal was thin there last season and Nick Forbes will not be coming back after deciding to retire because of a back injury that sidelined him in 2013.
Running back was another need that was filled, led by Watson and Downs. Watson rushed for 3,734 yards and 50 touchdowns last season, averaging 9.0 yards per carry. Downs, who was highly sought after as a running back and linebacker, will begin his Cal career on offense.
The 21-player class includes six junior college players as Cal searched for some immediate help, including cornerback Darius White of Itawamba Community College in Mississippi, who was ranked by one service as the top junior college cornerback in the country.