Cal Football: ESPN Puts Bears' 2021 Recruiting Class in Top 20

Cal head coach Justin WilcoxPhoto by Stan Szeto - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

Cal’s 2021 recruiting class has been getting some high marks, and it received its highest grade so far when ESPN.com ranked the Golden Bears’ class in the top 20 last week.

ESPN ranked the Bears’ class as the 19th-best in the nation and third best in the Pac-12.

In its assessment of Cal’s recruiting class, ESPN said this: 

Coach Justin Wilcox has the Bears in the mix for their first top-25 class since 2012 after a hot start to the 2021 cycle. The state of Arizona has been big this cycle, with ESPN 300 QB and spring riser Kai Millner, as well as three-star S Hunter Barth. Big in-state wins on the trail have come in the form of ESPN 300 WR Mavin Anderson and ESPN 300 TE Jermaine Terry. Three-star DE Akili Calhoun and CB Kaleb Higgins were two more key wins early.

Cal fans should not get too excited, because recruiting for 2021 is still in its early stages. The Bears’ high ranking is partly the result of already having seven commitments. USC is the only Pac-12 school with more commitments than that, and many of the conference’s other teams have barely started. Stanford, Colorado and UCLA have only two commitments apiece, Utah has just one, and Arizona and Washington State don’t have any yet.

Nonetheless, this is an encouraging start for Cal because of the quality of the players who have committed. Three of the players who have committed to Cal are ranked among ESPN’s top 300 prospects: quarterback Kai Millner is ranked 115th, wide receiver Mavin Anderson is No. 206, and tight end Jermaine Terry is ranked 225th.

By comparison, none of the high school players Cal signed in its 2020, 2019 or 2018 classes was ranked among ESPN’s top 300 prospects.

The last time Cal signed an ESPN top-300 prospect was 2017, when Chase Garbers and wide receiver Taariq Johnson signed with Cal. 

The last time Cal landed more than two top-300 prospects was 2011, when five such players signed with Cal while Jeff Tedford was Cal’s head coach.

The other four Cal commits for 2021 are Akili Calhoun, Kaleb Higgins, Hunter Barth and Bastian Swinney.

Rivals.com ranks Cal’s 2021 recruiting class 37th, and 247Sports puts the Bears class at No. 30.

If you are interested in how ESPN.com determined its rankings, click here.

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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