It was a busy week for the California defensive line, the unit perhaps most in need of reinforcements in the next recruiting class or two. The Bears hosted Russell Ude and four-star tackle Jonathan Ledbetter, while working out and committing Zeandae Johnson. Ude, a coveted defensive end out of Atlanta (Ga.) Westminster, visited Berkeley on Friday, and after paying visits to USC and UCLA, came away impressed.
"I enjoyed everything," Ude said. "They really did pull out the red carpet for me, and show me every single aspect of the school I could possibly want to see. The only thing was, I wasn't able to hang out with players much, but I did hang out with Vic Enwere and Luke Rubenzer. I still got to see everything and meet with all the coaches, and my dad got to, as well, so that was great. I saw all of the academic things I needed to see. Overall, it was a great trip."
Normally, Ude is focused on demolishing running backs and eating quarterbacks for breakfast, but having the two newest Bears show him the ropes was a big plus.
"They've been there for two weeks, and they've been telling me everything," Ude said. "They were telling me everything that I needed to know, and told me that I would really fit in great, that I could start as a freshman. The guys they have, what I'm able to do, I was able to see the depth chart and everything while I was there, and I know I have a chance to come in and start my freshman year. I assumed that I had the capacity, but it was great to see that I have that available to me, if I put in the necessary work, which I usually don't have a problem doing. It was great hanging out with those guys and hearing all what they had to say. It's important to know who you're going to be around in college, and those are some guys I know that I want to be around."
The most impressive aspect for the 3.6 GPA student-athlete?
"All of the academic support that they give the guys – academic support and career development support," Ude said. "They have a program called the LAB program – Life After Ball. They set you up for the future, and help you along the way when you're in college, and after you leave, with, basically, just getting your life in order. That's fantastic. Not a lot of schools have that, and they really emphasize that you are there not just to play football, and I feel like a lot of schools lose sight of that. A lot of schools are more interested in what you can do during your four years for that school, than what you can achieve after you leave school. It was really impressive for me to see that they really do care about your success in life, not just on the football field."
Another highlight of the trip for Ude was meeting in person with dynamic new defensive line coach Fred Tate.
"My relationship with coach Tate is cool," Ude said. "It's laid back, because he doesn't pressure me or anything. He doesn't blow my phone up, or my messages up, every day. Every time I need to talk to him, he comes to me, or I'm able to get in touch with him. It's never a problem. Some coaches are busy, and hard to get in touch with, but he's busy and he'll make time for me to speak with him. We have a really good relationship."
Ude also visited USC and UCLA this week, and had intended to visit Stanford, though, he said, he wasn't able to make it. He'll come back to the West Coast at some point next month to hit both the Cardinal and Oregon.
"It was good, it was really good," Ude said of how the Cal visit compared with the Trojans and Bruins. "It was a really good trip. With Cal, it was more of an in-depth visit, getting to talk with the coaches, whereas USC and UCLA had camp going on, so coaches were doing a whole bunch of different things, even though I was taken around for a visit, which was nice, because they were busy with camp. It was good to be there and be the priority of the day, while I was at Cal, but at the same time, there were benefits to camping. I was able to work hands-on with the coaches, see the kind of drills I would be doing, see their coaching style and, players from each team were working camp, so it was great to go learn from those guys while I was there."
At UCLA, Ude worked with Datone Jones, a player who, Ude said, he has watched numerous times, and said "I want to be like him, because we have a similar body type."
Ude also worked with Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Kenny Clark. At USC, Ude worked with Claude Pelon, Antwaun Woods and Leonard Williams.
"All three of those guys are very impactful players," Ude said.