There have been plenty of blowout recruiting weekends this season. Notre Dame used its first game under the lights in more than two decades against intersectional rival USC as its showcase moment. Oregon too used its showdown against the Trojans to host a who’s who of standout recruits.
But California is poised to match, or perhaps exceed those two, with the list of players scheduled to make official and unofficial visits to Berkeley this weekend.
“This could be the biggest recruiting weekend ever at Cal,” said Brandon Huffman, national recruiting analyst for Fox Sports Next and Scout.com. “I’d say it’s greater than Oregon’s and on par with Notre Dame’s."
Some 14 recruits are currently set to see campus on official visits this weekend, most notably top-rated lineman Arik Armstead of Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove and safety Shaquille Thompson of Sacramento (Calif.) Grant.
Armstead’s father Guss sent a text message Thursday night confirming Arik would be using his fourth of five official visits to see the Golden Bears.
Rated as the No. 1 player on the Class of 2012 by Scout.com, the mammoth Armstead had previously been planning to come by unofficially after being visited by members of the Cal coaching staff earlier in the week.
“Getting the top prospect in the country and the top skill guy in the West, that is huge,” Huffman said.
Other notable guests will include the standout tandems from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian - four-star cornerback Ishmael Adams and four-star wide receiver Jordan Payton - and Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony – four-star defensive tackle Aziz Shittu and three-star center Matt Cochran.
Wide receiver Bryce Treggs and safety Zach Hoffpauir, two players already committed to Cal, will also be in attendance.
Treggs has been on the road with Armstead and Thompson already, making the trip to South Bend in October. But while Oregon and Notre Dame highlighted the game day atmosphere on campus, Cal should be able to offer more time for coaches and players to interact with recruits.
“The downside is you don’t get that game day experience, but you get those kids for 36-48 hours. You get to spend every waking minute with them,” Huffman said.
“There’s definitely positives to both, but from a West Coast perspective, they are more likely to do the end of the year after the season visits just because they want to spend as much time with those guys as possible.”
If Cal can secure pledges from even a handful of the recruits on hand, it could send this recruiting class into the top 10 or 12 nationally, Huffman said.
“If they end the weekend with a slew of commits, especially from elite guys, it could make a major vault,” he said. “But more importantly, it could send a ripple effect with other top prospects who then want to jump on the train.”
Huffman believes Thompson, brother of former Cal defensive back Syd’Quan Thompson, could be the first to commit if such a chain reaction is to occur.