Many fans will remember Sonny Dykes’ offense putting up big numbers from 2007 to '09 and his work with Mike Leach at Texas Tech in 2005 and '06. But for many high school recruits in the West, Dykes was an unknown commodity, and there was plenty of uncertainty among Cal recruits with news coming out that Dykes will be the new head coach of the Golden Bears.
Once commits found out about Dykes, who spent the last three years as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, the uncertainty gave way to excitement.
Offensive tackle Cameron Hunt (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and teammate Garrett Hughes are still competing in the state playoffs, so the two big men were at practice when the news came out. They said they had to scroll through plenty of calls and texts about the new coach, and a familiar refrain began.
"I haven't really looked into him," Hunt said. "I just know his team led the nation in scoring, so that is exciting."
Hunt has picked up offers from Michigan and Oregon in the past few weeks, as programs pick up their interest in the Cal commitment who will take official visits this winter. The Golden Bears will need to work to keep Hunt committed, and a strong offensive hire could help on that front.
"Me and him [Hunt] are pretty excited about it," Hughes said of the Dykes hiring. "They have the best offense in the nation down there. He seems like a really good coach."
With the playoffs in full swing, Hughes hasn't spent much time concentrating on recruiting. He said he's willing to let the situation at Cal fully develop.
"I still have love for Cal and I love everything about the school," Hughes said. "Since they have a coach now, I'll be doing some research on him, but I'll be letting him do his own thing and I'll stand by whatever choices he makes."
Other offensive standouts committed to the Bears needed little time to approve of the change. Athlete Torry McTyer (Los Angeles/Cathedral), who will head to college as a wide receiver, is one of the few recruits familiar with Dykes. McTyer said Cathedral runs the same offense used by Tony Franklin, Louisiana Tech’s offensive coordinator.
"So I think it's a great hire," McTyer said.
Wide receiver Caleb Coleman (Berkeley, Calif./St. Mary's) had a similar reaction.
"I'm excited that they made a decision," he said. "I did a little research on Louisiana Tech and I like the spread offense. I saw them play San Jose State this year and I liked how they spread it out. I saw a lot of receivers getting into the rotation. That's exciting for me."
Tight end Raymond Hudson (Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill) , who never remotely wavered in his commitment after Jeff Tedford's firing or during the coaching search, had a simple message that echoed the thoughts of many players.
"I'm excited for the future of Cal football," he said.