Serra (San Mateo) High School linebacker J.P. Hurrell (5-11/195, 4.58 forty, 80 tackles, 4 sacks) gave the Bears word that he was heading to Berkeley in 2008.
Hurrell was excited when he received his offer from Cal two weeks ago after previously getting his first three offers from BYU, Oregon and Washington earlier.
"Coach Tedford was really sincere and straightforward," said Hurrell. "He said that even though I’m not the biggest guy around, he knows I have a lot of heart and he saw that on the highlight film and he wants me to be a part of the Bear family. I’m really excited about that."
Hurrell's family also shared his enthusiasm for the Bears.
"The combination of athletics and academics at Cal can't be beaten," said Hurrell's father, Findlay. He was really, really happy to get the offer from Cal.
"As far as J.P. was concerned, even though he had interest from elsewhere in the Pac 10 and outside of the Pac 10, too, it didn't take him long to realize that he wanted to get the recruiting process behind him and begin to focus on his upcoming season. He saw this as a can't miss opportunity.
"Once you get an offer from Cal, there really isn't much to separate them from any of the other top programs in the nation. He can't wait. Next year's really going to fly."
Though he plays linebacker now, Hurrell will likely play safety for Bears when he arrives in Berkeley. Some see him in the mold of Ryan Gutierrez, who starred at safety for the Bears and currently plays professional football overseas in France.
“J.P.’s got an incredible motor and his feet never stop,” said Serra Head Coach Patrick Walsh. “I think that’s what people like best about him.
“He’s tenacious, man. He’s a really quiet, unassuming kid off the field. You look at him and can tell he’s an athlete but he doesn’t say a lot. But when you put him on the field, it’s like a switch is flipped and he gets kind of angry and plays real violent with his hands. He wants to obliterate guys. I don’t really know where that comes from because you can’t tell he’d play like that when you talk to him but on the field, he’s got that look in his eyes and he gets real intense. He’s definitely our physical leader in the weight room and on the field.”
Hurrell led the Padres to a 9-3 record in 2006. Serra’s season ended when they fell in a tight battle in the semifinals of the CCS playoffs to Oak Grove, 23-22. With their returning talent, Serra has high hopes for 2007.
Walsh was a star in his own right, excelling as a running back at De La Salle. Walsh was a part of the beginning of the Spartans incredible 151 game win streak in ’92-'93 before going on to play at San Jose State.
Despite being an undersized back, Walsh still excelled. In his senior year, he rushed for 2,029 yards and 38 touchdowns and had over 4,000 yards rushing and 66 total touchdowns in his career, so he knows what it takes to win.
“Building around J.P. and guys like Tiuke Tuipulotu (865 yards/9.6 ypc/11 tds), Cody Jackson (Most Valuable Sophomore Award winner at Cal camp last summer) and Deleon Eskridge (1461 yards, 26 tds) and players like that, whenever you have key guys coming back at important positions, you give yourself a chance to win. We try to keep the kids together, keep them grounded, keep them working hard and humble and if we can do that, we’ll have a chance to win every game we play this year,” said Walsh.
Hurrell will be on campus next month at Cal Camp and will be joined by Tuipulotu, Jackson and Eskridge as well.
Some were surprised by the early offer from Cal, since the Bears are notoriously methodical about who they offer and when they do it.
“I think it was J.P.’s highlight tape that caught Cal’s eye,” said Walsh. “Then he got a couple offers before going to Cal’s Junior Day and I think Cal just thought, ‘Let’s make this guy an offer. He’s a local player and someone we can really get excited about.’
“In talking to J.P., it was like, “Hey, you’ve got an offer from a Top 10 program in the country and one of the top two public universities in the country and it’s kind of like when you find the right woman, why keep looking for someone else? So it was a nice match, it’s close to home and it’s where he wants to be so he’s excited about it and we’re all excited about it.
“I’m extremely happy that this worked out for J.P. and I know in the end it’s going to work out for Cal, too,” said Walsh.”
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