Despite the fact that Mychal Kendricks attended high school just around the corner from Bulldog Stadium, Fresno State's coaching staff didn't pursue him until it was too late.

Kendricks, a linebacker who attended Hoover High in Fresno, wasn't considered a major recruit until he hit the camp circuit after his junior year. He attended camps at Cal, Stanford and Oregon before returning home to go to the Fresno State camp as well. By that time, Kendricks had multiple Pac-10 offers.

Kendricks ultimately chose Cal. The Bulldogs never had a chance.

"It would have been cool for them to jump on it sooner or first, seeing as I was at the school right down the street from them," said Kendricks, whose Bears will face the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon in the 2011 season opener at Candlestick Park. "But I think I kind of went under the radar, and I really wasn't getting any looks until I came out to Palo Alto to the Nike Camp. They (Bulldogs) recruited me, but they were one of the last people to recruit me. I think they knew I had bigger offers."

Indeed, Fresno State coach Pat Hill acknowledged he thought the Bulldogs had a shot at Kendricks until he received an offer from Cal.

Kendricks has no animosity toward the Fresno State program and is looking forward to playing the Bulldogs. He joked that the reason the Bulldogs have been so successful selling tickets to the game is because they are all being bought by his family and friends.

Kendricks said he grew up a Fresno State fan and went to about one game a year when he was in high school.

"I wouldn't say I'm nervous; more anxious than anything," Kendricks said. "It's going to be cool playing against them."

Fresno State fans will get a firsthand look at the linebacker who skipped town and now is one of the top defenders in the Pac-10. Kendricks has been named to multiple watch lists for postseason awards.

More than that, Kendricks has become the heart and soul of Cal's defense, providing a physical and mental toughness that rubs off on his teammates.

"He has a lot of emotion to him," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He is very passionate about the game. Without a doubt, he's one of our most vocal leaders."