With an offense that focuses on the passing game and a quarterback that likes to fling it around like Jared Goff, the Cal Bears needed wide receivers on signing day that could contribute to Sonny Dykes’ squad very soon after junior WR Chris Harper declared for the NFL Draft. It appears as if that happened.
The top new Bears wideout is Carlos Strickland from Dallas. The No. 12 wide receiver in the country played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl after catching 27 touchdowns in his last three years at Skyline High. Dykes says he “has an opportunity to get on the field relatively quickly,” which is code for “Can you start practicing running routes with Goff yesterday?”
Jaylinn Hawkins from Buena Park, Calif. gets that elusive “athlete” term instead of an actual position, an indication of his potential more than anything else. In the national top-25 as a wide receiver, Hawkins was also a defensive back and punt returner in high school. Rivals says he might be “undervalued,” which is another way of saying the scouting service is doubting their own thoughts on the guy.
The other “athlete” Cal signed might be more intriguing. Billy McCrary III is out of Austin, Texas, where he was the starting QB for Rouse High School. Since Cal seems to have QB under control this year, McCrary’s signing could mean one of two things. First, insurance policy in case Goff leaves for the NFL after 2015, his junior season. Two, since McCrary is listed at 5-foot-10, always considered small for a QB, he may be open to changing positions and making an immediate impact. That might be more likely, since he also led his team in rushing all three years on the varsity and set the school’s 100-meter dash record as a freshman.
Another offensive signee who could have an immediate impact is a relative local to Berkeley, and that’s Lonny Powell from Sacramento. Powell made several postseason all-league and all-region teams, but as a hybrid linebacker-defensive end, not as a running back. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, it’ll be interesting to see what happens there.
It’s a make-or-break year for Cal, after jumping from one win in Dykes’ first year to five last season, grumblings began that Dykes “should have won more.” The Bears need impact players to help them become bowl eligible, so if two of the guys mentioned here can get it done, Cal fans will be able to make postseason plans.