Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: Midlands Region [Print without images]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The Early Offer: Cal's chance to impress

By Jeremy Crabtree

The Early Offer gives you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: California is going to roll out the red carpet for more than 150 recruits this weekend; fans will get a chance to see the nation’s top junior live on national television on Friday; and Ohio State continues to address concerns about team speed by adding another burner to its commitment list on Monday.

Big crowd in Berkeley
Cal coach Sonny Dykes knows when you have a marquee program like Ohio State coming into your house for a nonconference game, you have a real opportunity to impress recruits. So it was no surprise to hear Dykes mention on Tuesday that he expects more than 150 recruits, including many of the top juniors in California, on hand for Saturday’s 7 p.m. ET kickoff. While the Bears haven’t cracked the ESPN RecruitingNation Class Rankings yet, Cal has done some good things with Dykes’ first full recruiting class. Three of the 11 Cal commits are four-star prospects, including two ESPN 300 prospects -- athlete Devante Downs (Mountlake Terrace, Wash./ Mountlake Terrace) and WR Jalen Harvey (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito). The rest of three star prospects. The Bears have added some good weapons for Dykes’ air-raid passing attack, but the real prize is still on the board -- ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) .

Nation’s top junior on display
You’ve seen the highlights. You’ve read the stories about all the early recruiting attention. Now you can see Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall), the top prospect in the ESPN Junior 300, for yourself. Cornell will lead Cretin-Derham (Minn.) Hall into a big early-season matchup against Stillwater (Minn.) in a Friday night game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Cornell has yet to name a favorite, but he already has offers from more than 25 schools, which is quite impressive for a player who won’t sign his national letter of intent until Feb. 4, 2015. Insiders believe Notre Dame and Michigan are the two teams to beat.

Speed to burn
Urban Meyer’s commitment to upgrading the speed at Ohio State took another major step forward on Monday with the commitment from four-star athlete Noah Brown (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII). Meyer said when he arrived in Columbus he would work hard to address the “speed issues” on the Buckeyes’ roster, and Brown’s commitment gives OSU 10 players over the last two classes who have been timed at 4.5-seconds or faster in the 40-yard dash. Lack of speed is something that has hurt Big Ten programs when they have faced off against programs in the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC, and Meyer knows if the Buckeyes want to compete for national championships they have to get faster. The recent additions certainly will give Meyer more opportunities to keep up the speedier teams in the South and should give it a leg up on its Big Ten rivals that sometimes struggle bringing speed to the Midwest.