The games are over, but there is no rest for the Cal football coaching staff.
“It’s a dynamic environment,” coach Justin Wilcox said after the Bears closed their season with a 24-14 win over USC on Saturday night.
Wilcox and his staff jumped right into the next thing beginning on Sunday.
“There’s a lot going on. we’re on the road recruiting — a lot of miles this week, a lot of flights,” he said. “Discussions with guys we’re recruiting, potential transfers and then our guys.”
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program, and the Bears currently have just 10 players committed publicly as national signing day approaches a week from Wednesday.
Cal’s 2022 recruiting class is not getting high marks so for. Rivals ranks it No. 73 in the nation and eighth-best in the Pac-12, while 247Sports has the Bears at No. 65 in the country and ninth in the conference.
The class looked more promising early in the fall before four key prospects de-committed. Gone are quarterback Justyn Martin of Inglewood High (to UCLA), running back Jaydn Ott of Norco High in southern California (likely to Wisconsin), running back Kaleb Johnson of Hamilton High in Ohio (to Iowa) and defensive lineman Jaxson Moi of Cathedral High in San Diego (to Stanford).
The Bears have no quarterbacks or running backs currently committed.
Adding to these positions will obviously be important, especially depending on what Chase Garbers and Christopher Brooks decide in the coming weeks. The Bears’ top QB and running back both can elect to use the extra year afforded by the NCAA because of COVID, but neither has announced his plans.
If Garbers departs after four seasons as a starter, the Bears’ existing options will include freshmen Zach Johnson and Kai Millner, along with grad transfer Ryan Glover and veteran walk-on Robbie Rowell.
Glover struggled in his one outing, the Bears’ 10-3 loss at Arizona after Garbers and 23 other players were shelved by COVID. It’s unclear whether he will want to return.
The coaching staff has talked up the potential of Johnson and Millner, but neither was given a shot in the Arizona game and neither has taken a snap in a college game.
Expect the Bears to try landing a quarterback out of the transfer portal, and perhaps a high school prospect as well.
Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez, who grew up in Clovis and committed to Cal as a high school junior, reportedly plans to visit the campus on Tuesday after already checking out Kansas State. You have to figure Martinez will want to know Garbers’ plans before he makes a decision.
The running back situation is less desperate, even if Brooks exits. Assuming they all return in 2022, the Bears will have Damien Moore, the starter for much of this season, along with fellow sophomores DeCarlos Brooks and Chris Street. But it’s hard to imagine the Bears not trying to sign at least one running back.
There are other current seniors who also could opt to return for the additional season, including wide receiver Nikko Remigio and outside linebacker Kuony Deng.
“There’s a lot going on right now for the next 10 days or so. And for some of the guys making decisions, it’ll be beyond that,” Wilcox said, referring to the seniors. “I tried to not recruit ‘em, because it’s a tough decision, there’s a lot to consider. We’ll help them with any information that’ll help them make that decision.
"I’d be lying if I say I didn’t kind of maybe say a thing or two about getting them all to come back.”
Cover photo of Memorial Stadium courtesy of Cal Athletics
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo