College football programs typically aim to add one quarterback to their roster each year. Cal is making a habit of adding one top quarterback per year.
With the oral commitment earlier this week of Steamboat Springs, Colo., quarterback Austin Hinder, the Bears are on pace to have a gaggle of former prep All-America signal-callers in 2010. If they all remain at Cal, the Bears could have four players who were selected for the Elite 11 camp, an honor reserved for the best high school quarterbacks in the country.
"They are probably the only school that seems like every year they get an Elite 11 guy," ESPNRISE.com recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said. "They definitely have the most guys."
Kevin Riley, Brock Mansion and Allan Bridgford were Elite 11 selections in high school, and all three will have eligibility remaining in 2010. Hinder participated in the Elite 11 regional camp earlier this month at Cal and is ranked as the No. 2 quarterback nationally by rivals.com.
Hinder had a laundry list of major colleges from which to choose before picking Cal over UCLA and Notre Dame. The potential logjam at quarterback didn't turn him off. In fact, he said it was one of the reasons he wanted to come to Berkeley.
"That's the reason to go," said Hinder, who is the grandson of Cal Hall of Famer Jim Hanifan, who played for the Bears from 1952-54 and later coached in the NFL. "No matter where you go, you're going to have high-level competition at the Division I level. That wasn't really a big factor for me. You can learn from the other quarterbacks."
While Hinder may begin his career behind talented quarterbacks with more seniority, that doesn't necessarily mean he will have to wait a long time to get his shot. Cal coach Jeff Tedford demonstrated last year that while he values experience, it's not a guarantee for playing time. As a redshirt sophomore last season, Riley started nine games and fifth-year senior Nate Longshore started only four (Longshore also was an Elite 11 quarterback in high school).
"Like anywhere else, the best guy is going to play," Hinder said. "I'm just going to come in and work my tail off. I'm looking forward to it a lot."
Biggins watched Hinder (6-foot-4, 180 pounds) at the regional Elite 11 camp and said he was just "OK." But Biggins did rave about Hinder's potential and said he should be able to compete for playing time in a few years.
"He's a guy with a lot of upside," Biggins said. "He needs a couple of years, but he probably has more upside than the guys they've got the last couple of years. The guys Cal have were Elite 11 guys, but I don't think they are guys that Hinder will be afraid to compete against. They have a lot of depth, but it's not going to scare Austin away."
Contact Jonathan Okanes at firstname.lastname@example.org.