BERKELEY -- Cal coach Sonny Dykes called his recruiting class "solid" given the club's ghastly 2013 season, but he knows his regime must do a better job of convincing local talent to stay home.
Cal's 21-member class includes just two high school prospects from the greater Bay Area -- San Mateo's Hamilton Anoa'i and Petaluma's John Porchivina. The Bears got no one from the East Bay, where in past years they have mined future stars such as Marshawn Lynch.
At least 15 local high school players signed with other Pac-12 Conference schools Wednesday, and the Bears also whiffed on five-star running back Joe Mixon of Oakley, who picked Oklahoma.
"There were a couple kids we went heavy on that we didn't get. That was disappointing," said Dykes, who suggested that academics were an issue with a couple of prospects. "Any good football program must protect its own backyard. It's important for us to do that."
The 2015 Bay Area class will be strong again, Dykes said. "We're ahead of the game on that," he said.
In the meantime, Dykes believes the Bears addressed needs and minimized the damage done by a 1-11 season.
Cal signed nine defensive linemen and linebackers in an attempt to shore up an area that contributed to the worst defense in school history. Three new offensive linemen are on board, and three running backs will add to that position.
Dykes isn't discouraged. Suggesting the Bears found players who are good fits for the program, he said, "I think we improved our team greatly today."
The Bears' second-year coach also said the only way to evaluate this class will be to wait three or four years to see how it performs.
"We've talked about some of the classes signed here in the past," he said. "They looked really good on paper, but weren't so good, for a lot of reasons."
In fact, only two players from Cal's 2010 class that was rated No. 11 nationally by Rivals were listed as starters entering last season's Big Game.
Cal brings in six junior college players -- five of them on defense -- to add immediate experience. But there were some key high school signees as well.
Running back Tre Watson, who rushed for more than 3,400 yards and 48 touchdowns last fall at Centennial-Corona, ignored a late rush from Washington to stay with Cal.
"He's a fun guy to watch," Dykes said. "He had a 500-yard game, which is hard to fathom."
Vic Enwere, a 6-foot-1, 213-pounder from Texas, and Devante Downs, a 6-3, 230-pounder from Washington, provide the Bears a different dimension in the backfield. Downs, who signed mid-year, will initially get reps at running back during spring ball but could wind up playing linebacker.
The more prolific of two quarterbacks the Bears signed is (barely) 6-foot Luke Rubenzer, who threw 61 touchdowns and just three interceptions for a Saguaro-Scottsdale, Ariz., team that was 13-1.
"I don't know if any quarterback anywhere across the country had better numbers than he did," said Dykes, who also gave Rubenzer credit for holding together Cal's class while the 2013 season unraveled.
The Bears entered last season with good depth at linebacker, then were decimated by injuries. Dykes said middle linebacker Nick Forbes, who missed virtually the entire season with a bulging disk in his back, will be forced to retire.
Cal added four linebackers, led by four-star prospect Chandler Leniu of St. John Bosco. "We felt like he was the best player on the best team in the state," Dykes said.
Dykes expects Itawamba (Miss.) JC transfer Darius White to compete for a starting cornerback job.