Cal football enjoyed one of its biggest recruiting days in memory Saturday when three top high school players -- two of them five-star prospects -- made oral commitments during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Safety Shaq Thompson of Grant High in Sacramento confirmed he will play for big brother Syd-Quan Thompson's alma mater, and 6-foot-5, 311-pound defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy of Monrovia picked the Bears over USC and Oregon.
Cal also got a commitment from wide receiver Jordan Payton, a four-star prospect from Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village.
"It's probably the best day somebody's had in at least a couple years at the Army All-American Bowl," Rivals recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said during the NBC broadcast of the game.
Farrell gave credit to Cal recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi for cultivating strong relationships with the Bears' recuiting targets.
Cal's recruiting class, which will not become official until letter-of-intent signing day on Feb. 1, was rated No. 20 in the nation before Saturday's announcements and sure to climber higher now.
The Bears still are awaiting word from two other potential top-30 national prospects: defensive end Arik Armstead of Elk Grove and defensive tackle Aziz of Atwater.
Thompson, rated the No. 1 defensive back in the country and the No. 7 overall prospect by Rivals.com, said, "We just all feel real comfortable there and we're going to change the game."
At 6-2, 210 pounds, Thompson has the size and speed to play either safety position. ESPN.com ranks him as the No. 2 high school player in California.
McCarthy, rated the No. 2 defensive tackle and No. 17 overall prospect by Rivals, said his goal at Cal is to "just try to get to a BCS bowl, a Rose Bowl."
But McCarthy's recruitment process may not be over. He reportedly still plans to make visits to USC and UCLA before Feb. 1.
Payton is rated as the No. 120 overall prospect by Rivals and gives the Bears their fifth wideout recruit, helping them reload at a thin position.
Armstead, from Pleasant Grove High in Elk Grove, is a 6-8, 280-pounder who could play defensive end but also likes offensive tackle . . . and basketball. He has visited Cal repeatedly and said he wants to play at a school that will allow him to pursue both sports.
Scout.com ranks Armstead as the No. 1 overall prospect in the nation. Rivals has him as the No. 4 defensive end.
Shittu, a 6-3, 275-pounder, is ranked No. 3 at defensive tackle, No. 27 overall by Rivals. His Buhach Colony teammate, center Matt Cochran, committed to the Bears last week.