The program led by the offensive-minded former Canadian Football League quarterback is becoming dangerously close to turning into a defensive school.

For the second straight year, the Cal Bears have hauled in a top-20 recruiting class, and much of the reason is because of the talent they have secured on defense. Cal announced its 22-member 2011 recruiting class Wednesday, a group that's ranked No. 15 nationally by ESPN and No. 17 by rivals.com.

In each of the past two years, the Bears have landed 10 players who were considered either four-star or five-star recruits (on a scale of five) by various recruiting analysts. And just as in 2010, seven of those prospects in 2011 come on the defensive side of the ball.

"I feel like we have assembled a great group of players," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "These guys are young right now, but I still think that they're going to be able to contribute in some way. There's a lot to work with on defense as far as talent is concerned."

The jewel of the 2011 class is nose tackle Viliama Moala of Grant High-Sacramento, a 6-foot-3, 350-pounder who Tedford said can already break the program's bench press record. Moala leads a five-member defensive line class that is ranked No. 3 nationally by scout.com. The group includes two defensive ends ranked in the top 10 at their position -- Todd Barr of Lakewood and Brennan Scarlett of Portland, Ore.


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Other key members of the defensive class are Gardena's Jason Gibson (No. 6 outside linebacker by ESPN), Vista's Stefan McClure (No. 4 cornerback by scout.com), Avery Walls of McDonough, Ga. (No. 6 safety by ESPN) and Mustafa Jalil of San Diego (No. 9 defensive tackle by scout.com).

"Defense is very important, there's no question about it," Tedford said. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and the defensive staff "have done a great job of putting these guys in position to be successful, but you have to have players to do it."

On offense, Cal brought in four running backs, although Darren Ervin of Houston will also play wide receiver and some quarterback out of the Wildcat formation.

Perhaps the wild card in the entire class is tailback Brendan Bigelow of Central East-Fresno, a prospect who has drawn comparisons to former Cal star Jahvid Best. Bigelow tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee twice in the past 18 months and didn't play at all last season.

"Every time I talk to him I ask if he's being a good patient," Tedford said. "He has so much energy that I worry about him sometimes. But he's a special player, there's no question about it."

Despite the injuries, Bigelow is still ranked as the No. 11 running back in the nation by scout.com. He had orally committed to Washington before switching to the Bears. Because returnees Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Dasarte Yarnway and Trajuan Briggs are all recovering from injuries, Tedford is hopeful Bigelow, Daniel Lasco of The Woodlands, Texas and Laney College transfer C.J. Anderson can compete for playing time this coming season.

There was one minor surprise on signing day. Defensive back Kameron Jackson, who had previously orally committed to Washington, signed with Cal instead. Tedford said Jackson, McClure and fellow incoming cornerback Joel Willis all should be in the playing rotation this season.

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List of Cal's recruits. Page 3