6-4/216 Mission Viejo junior quarterback Allan Bridgford is sure to be a key component to the Bears’ 2008 class. The 3 star Bridgford completed 68% of his passes in ’07 for the Diablos, with 22 touchdowns and 2,508 yards on the season, earning league Offensive MVP.
“Coach Cignetti came down and watched Allan throw last week,” said Mission Viejo assistant coach Bret Johnson. “I did the workout so we talked afterwards and he made the offer. They needed to see him first and Cignetti really liked him and all his skills. He had a really good workout –he’s had really good workouts with all the programs –and I think that’s really why he’s moving up the charts so fast. When he went to the Nike combine in LA, he won co-MVP of the whole thing. A lot of coaches who have seen all the top prospects in the state say they’d take Allan over any of them.
Many assume that all the top players in Southern California grow up rooting for local teams USC and UCLA but that was not the case for Bridgford.
“I never really had a favorite growing up, said Bridgford. “I kind of liked Tennessee when I was real young because I liked their uniforms but mainly I just followed college football and kept up with a lot of teams. I know that Cal’s a great football team and a great school. They nearly rose to the top last season. And they’ve been a great team over the years.”
Any questions that Bridgford had about Cal were answered quickly in his recruitment by the Bears.
“I had a lot of questions for the coaches and I was definitely satisfied with all the answers I got,” said Bridgford. “It’s an awesome program. I can’t even say how excited I am to be a part of the Cal football program.”
As for other factors that entered into Bridgford’s decision to be a Bear: “I’d have to say a lot of it was the coaches,” said Bridgford. “Coach Tedford and Coach Cignetti are just awesome. And all the other coaches I met there are great, too. (Defensive Line) Coach (Tosh) Lupoi’s a great guy. I like him a lot, too.
“The fact that Coach Tedford’s job is real secure and Coach Cignetti –he wants to raise his family there and have a place for his little girls to grow up –I just know they’re going to be there for a long time and that they’re some of the best coaches in the country.
“I think I have a really good personality match with Coach Tedford,” continued Bridgford. “He seems to be the strong, silent type. He’s very straight-forward and very honest. He’s not the type to blow smoke at you like so many others do in recruiting. He told me exactly how it was when I first met him and I really respect him for that. That’s what I look for in a coach. You want a guy you can go to battle with –some guy who’s not going to lie to you.
“Coach Cignetti just has a fiery look on his face when he talks about football. You can tell he just has a passion for the game –just like Coach Tedford. You can just tell how much they love the game and how much they like talking about it.
“I had a meeting with Coach Tedford -2 ½ hours. We just talked about everything. He just has such a passion for the game and the same for Coach Cignetti. They’re both just awesome guys. I just can’t wait to learn as much as I can and soak it all up from them.
“Coach Lupoi’s a great guy, too. I know him more as a person rather than as a coach. He’s a great person, just like Coach Tedford and Coach Cignetti are. He’s a cool guy –the type of guy I’d hang out with. And he’s a young guy, too.”
Bridgford learned from some of the best in the business in Mission Viejo Head Coach Bob Johnson and son Bret, former California State Player of the year and starting quarterback for UCLA as well as the Atlanta Falcons and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. Both have tutored some of the top quarterbacks in the high school, collegiate and pro levels.
“Allan’s another in a long line of quarterbacks that my dad (Bob Johnson) and now I’ve coached, said Johnson. “When a talented quarterback leaves here, they’re usually ready for the next level of maturity and ready to compete. He knows how to get it done on the field but he also knows how to handle things off the field. He comes from a good family and Cal’s getting a top-notch kid. I think when it’s all said and done, they probably got one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the country.
“He has 22 offers. Every team that’s watched him in person has offered and a lot have offered just based on game film. The only team that didn’t offer right away was Notre Dame, but they called me this morning and said that he met their criteria and that he’d get an offer from them in a week or two, but Allan didn’t want to go that direction and he fell in love when he went up to Cal. We talked about the pros and cons there and about the coaching staff and it fits really well with him up there.”
Bridgford’s parents have Pac 10 ties as well, with his mother attending USC and his father, Stanford -playing football for a year with the Cardinal before turning to rugby as well as earning a law degree from Stanford after graduating #1 in his class.
How did his family feel about Bridgford’s commitment to the Bears?
“They were real happy,” said Bridgford. “I think Cal’s the place they wanted me to go the whole time. They really liked my decision.”
The Diablo QB went through a transformation in the last year, adding 36 lbs of muscle to his frame while increasing his efficiency and speed.
“My mechanics are much better,” said Bridgford. “I can throw harder but I’m just as accurate and just as flexible. I’ve just gotten bigger, stronger and more defined. Knock on wood, I’ve never been injured but the coaches and I just feel like it’s better for me to be stronger. I’ve also gotten faster in the last year, going from 4.9 to 4.7 in the forty.”
When asked about some of his strengths as a quarterback, Bridgford offered: “I’m tough, I’m a leader. I’m the type of guy that’s going to fight hard every game, even if we’re down by 40. I’m accurate and have a strong arm and I can make all the throws. I make smart decisions and I’m not the kind of guy that will lose games for you.”
“Some people say that because he plays for the Johnson’s, what you see is the best that you’ll get, but that’s not true,” said Johnson. “Halfway through the season, he upped his completion percentage from 58% to 68% so he was throwing at around an 80% clip towards the end.
“He’s really worked hard, both here and on his own to get stronger and he’s gotten used to his body development. When you put on that much weight as a young kid, you have to adapt. After adding the muscle, he’s filled out and his strength’s gotten a lot better. He makes all the throws easier now –not that it was difficult before and he can hit any pass that you need. But he’s a passer. He knows when to throw the ball and how to put touch on his passes instead of throwing them through a wall. We think he’ll have a ginormous season. My dad talked to Coach Tedford this morning and he’s ecstatic. When you get a quarterback of his caliber committing this early, you’ve got a really nice chance to build a strong class. He’s a guy who’s 50 miles from USC and UCLA and it says a lot for him to say, “I’m going to Cal.”
With UCLA still recruiting Bridgford and many other programs still expressing strong interest, did the former Bruin QB think Bridgford could be tempted to reconsider his commitment to the Bears?
“Put it this way: My dad’s been doing this 35 years and there’s never been one kid that’s decommitted without their future coach being fired,” said Johnson. “That’s a pretty good track record, especially since in the 9 years we’ve been at Mission, we’ve put about 40 kids into D1 football. As long as there’s no big coaching change, he’ll be at Cal for sure.
“He’s all fired up. He can’t wait for his senior season then to be a Bear.”
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