Mike Kellar went into his first football recruiting season as head coach at California University with two objectives: get bigger and find depth.
Kellar believes he accomplished both goals on signing day Wednesday.
Kellar received commitments from 24 high school seniors and plans to add six or seven more walk-ons and transfers.
Kellar released a tweet during the day that former West Virginia linebacker Branko Busick was coming to Cal. But the tweet was removed because the school is only announcing freshman signees now. Transfers will be announced at a later date.
“We needed to get bigger,” said Kellar, who guided the Vulcans to an 8-3 record after replacing the retired John Luckhardt last summer. “I saw the teams that were winning championships were bigger and more physical. So we recruited a certain body type.”
The biggest lineman in the group is offensive tackle Shareef Clinton of Harry S. Truman High School, who stands 6-6 and weighs 270 pounds.
“I wanted to sign Shareef because when he was sitting in a chair in my office, I couldn’t see the wall behind him,” Kellar said with a chuckle.
The others include: Richie Gould, a 6-6, 250-pound offensive lineman from Lakota East High School in Liberty Township, Ohio; Patrick Kline, a 6-4, 270-pound offensive tackle from Pine Richland; Craig McCorkle, a 6-4, 280-pound tackle from Winton Woods High School in Cincinnati; Tyler Peerson, a 6-4, 255-pounder from Freedom; and Colin Reese, a 6-3, 285-pounder from Beaver.
Kellar signed six running backs, some of whom could be moved to the secondary. Jordan McCrae (5-10, 175) from Connellsville and John Franklin (6-0, 215) from Canal Winchester High School in Winchester, Ohio, probably won’t be moved.
“McCrae is a three-down back,” Kellar said. “Franklin is a downhill runner. He leans on a defense.”
One position Kellar did not restock yet was quarterback. Red-shirt sophomore Cody Schroeder is expected to be the starter and Austin Stock, a sophomore from Miami (Fla.) Central, the back-up. Schroeder started the final five games of the season after Peter Lalich was injured.
“We’d like to find one or two quarterbacks,” said Kellar. “There are a couple guys we’re still talking to and I guess that’s one glaring spot right now.”
Kellar did get a pair of tall (6-3) receivers in Tom Greene of Woodland Hills and Kareen Watson of Potomac Falls, Va., and two promising tight ends in Zameer McDowell (6-6, 230) from Spring-Ford High School; and Jack Miller (6-4, 245) from Lower Dauphin High School. Blake Williamson, a talented blocker and receiver at tight end, graduated.
On defense, Kellar landed Pennsylvania’s starting middle linebacker in this year’s Big 33 Game in Alex Beasley (5-11, 230) from Woodland Hills.
Acantay Patton, a 6-3, 255-pounder from Hopewell can play defensive end or linebacker.
“A lot of Division I-AA teams were offering,” Kellar said. “But they wanted to redshirt him. We’re not going to redshirt him.”
Kellar might have found a replacement for Rontez Miles in the form of Jordan Bowman, a 6-0, 205-pound safety from Central Dauphin High School who made third team All-State.
“He won a state championship his junior year,” Kellar said. “He’s a big, long free safety. Losing Rontez, we need a replacement. Bowman comes highly touted.”
Kellar said he will be naming a defensive coordinator in the “coming weeks.” Mike Conway left to take the head coaching position at North Park University in Chicago in December.
Cal’s spring game will be April 27.