Lupoi leaving Cal leaves recruits stunned

In what could be the biggest recruiting story out west this year, Tosh Lupoi left his alma mater, Cal, to be the new defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator at Washington.

The news of a defensive line coach moving from one program to another normally wouldn’t cause much more than just a ripple in recruiting circles. Lupoi however was far more than just a defensive line coach. He was arguably the top recruiter in the Pac-12 and among the nation’s truly elite recruiters who was almost single-handedly putting together a top 10 recruiting class for Cal this year.

The Bears have already landed commitments from several elite players, including Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif.), Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, Calif./Grant), Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), Matthew Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony) and Freddie Tagaloa (Richmond, Calif./Salesian) and Lupoi was the lead recruiter on all of them.

The Bears were also leading for two of the nation’s top lineman in Arik Armstead (Elk Grove, Calif./Pleasant Grove) and Aziz Shittu (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony) and Lupoi was the point person on both players as well.

“Man I don’t know what to do now,” Thompson said. “Tosh was a big reason why I was going to Cal. Even though he wasn’t going to be my coach, he was the coach I was close with and the one I felt most comfortable with. I’m definitely going to look at Washington now, that was my second choice after Cal all along.”

Treggs said he’s still solid with the Bears but knows some of his future teammates might need a phone call.

“I have some recruiting to do,” Treggs said. “I’m just curious if we offered more money too or just let him go. I have a lot of questions but I’m still going to Cal and hopefully I can rally some of the guys and keep the class together.”

One player Treggs might want to hit up is Shittu, who said he was shocked by the news.

“Wow, that’s all I can say,” Shittu said. “Everything has changed for me now, I loved Coach Tosh but it’s all good, I’m going to be fine. I’m going to pray about my decision and still have some great choices including Cal.”

It will be interesting to see what impact Lupoi has immediately at Washington. Thompson was one of the few recruits who was also considering the Huskies. There is no doubt Lupoi will try and take a few Bears commitments with him and will also help Washington close strong. But more than likely, his biggest impact will be on the 2013 class.

One of Lupoi’s many strengths as a recruiter is establishing relationships with prospects early in the process and building that throughout the year. He’s a young, energetic coach who relates very well to recruits. He’ll have a huge impact with the Huskies moving forward, but Cal’s 2012 class should be fine as well.