While acknowledging Cal did not sign many highly rated skill position players, new Bears coach Sonny Dykes was happy with the linemen that were part of the 25-player recruiting class Cal signed on Feb. 6.
"We'll have a higher standard in the future," Dykes said. "Next year's class will have a little more star power, more skill-position players."
Cal did not sign any players ranked among Scout.com's top 200 recruits, and the highest rated signee was quarterback Jared Goff, rated the nation's No. 234 recruit by Scout.com and 140th by rivals.com.
But the incoming freshman most likely to get playing time next season is running back Khalfani Muhammad, partly because of injuries to the position and partly because he figures to fit Dykes' offensive system.
Dykes' recruiting time was limited after being hired on Dec. 6 following the dismissal of Jeff Tedford. But Dykes was still able to add 16 commitments while keeping most of the players who had committed to Cal before he was hired.
"One of the first things we noticed was that we needed depth on the offensive and defensive lines," Dykes said.
The Bears signed five offensive linemen, including a tight end, and seven defensive linemen.
However, the Bears did lose guard Cameron Hunt, who would have been the second-highest rated player Cal signed had he been retained. Hunt committed to Cal during the summer when Tedford was the coach, but ultimately signed with Oregon.
Cal also needs help in the secondary.
"The one need we fell short on was defensive back," Dykes said.
The Bears did sign two cornerbacks, Darius Allensworth and Cameron Walker. Aside from Muhammad, Walker is the incoming freshman most likely to get playing time next season, because of the need at the position.
Cal's class is ranked 29th in the country and fifth in the Pac-12 by Scout.com and 30th in the country and fifth in the conference according to Rivals.com.
Those rankings seem to be based more on the quantity of recruits than the quality.
TOP OF THE CLASS
QB Jared Goff (Marin Catholic High in Kentfield, Calif.) -- Goff is the highest rated of the Cal signees, ranking 140th overall in the class of 2013 by Rivals.com, which rated him as the No. 8 quarterback recruit. He has already enrolled at Cal and will participate in spring practice. He completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a senior.
RB Khalfani Muhammad (Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, Calif.) -- Muhammad is only 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, but he was the California state champion in the 100 and 200 meters as a junior. His speed and shiftiness should allow him to fit in well with Sonny Dykes spread offense, which creates space for running backs. He is likely to see playing time as a freshman.
DE Sione Sina (College of San Mateo in San Mateo, Calif.) -- As a junior college transfer who has already enrolled at Cal, Sina is expected to help immediately, especially with Cal switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. A 6-foot-2, 255-pounder, Sina had 7 1/2 tackles for losses and 2 1/2 sacks in 2012. He has the size and speed to make plays.
CB Cameron Walker (Loyola High in Los Angeles) -- A sleeper who could get playing time immediately because a need at the position, the 5-11, 180-pound Walker is an outstanding athlete who played running back, receiver and defensive back in high school. He will play cornerback at Cal. He was rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com, which rated him the No. 63 cornerback prospect in the country.
Practice priorities: Cal has a lot to do. It needs to put in an entirely new offensive system based on spreading the field with four and five-wide receiver sets, and it has an entirely new coaching staff on both offense and defense. And it must instill a winning attitude after a 3-9 season in 2012. The first order of business will be to select a new quarterback for Sonny Dykes' spread offense, although the choice probably won't be made until next fall. Allan Bridgford, who is the only quarterback on the roster with playing experience but completed only 45.6 percent of his passes in 2012, and Zach Kline, who redshirted his freshman season, are the top candidates, although freshman Jared Goff enrolled in school in January. New defensive coordinator Andy Buh needs to install his 4-3 defense after the team played a 3-4 in 2012, and he must replace three of the four starting defensive backs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2013:
TB Brendan Bigelow demonstrated his break-away speed and big-play potential, but the Cal coaches had trouble figuring out how to make use of his skills. He averaged 9.8 yards a carry, and he had three touchdown runs of more than 50 yards. With the other two primary ball-carriers, Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson, out of eligibility in 2012, Bigelow should be the focal point of the running game in 2013. He should fit in well in Sonny Dykes' offensive system, which spreads the field and gives running backs room to maneuver.
OLB Chris McCain -- A starter since midway through his freshman season in 2011, McCain has a chance to be a star next season as a junior. Despite being slowed by injuries, McCain had 8 1/2 tackles for losses and four quarterback hurries in 2012, and is capable of making game-changing plays. Injuries are the key issue with McCain.
QB Kevin Kline -- After redshirting his freshman year in 2012, Kline will compete with Allan Bridgford for the starting job in the spring. Based on Bridgford's struggles in his three starts in 2012, Kline will get a serious look. Kline played pretty well last spring, and could become the Bears starting quarterback in 2013.
WR Chris Harper -- Harper did not become a regular starter until Keenan Allen got hurt, but he still finished second to Allen in receptions with 41, and showed a knack for making spectacular catches. Assuming he recovers well from shoulder surgery, he figures to be the Bears' No. 1 passing target next season and big part of Sonny Dykes' spread-offense passing game.