Tevin Paul, who will be a fourth-year junior next season, is strong, athletic and all that other stuff that indicates a player’s potential. But Cal head coach Justin Wilcox noticed last spring a difference in Paul’s approach.
“About a year ago is when I really noticed it,” Wilcox said at the end of this year’s spring practice. “Last spring, he just . . . I think his attitude toward the game, he decided, ‘Hey, I want to be good at this.’
“You can go through the practice and go do the workouts, and you can get incrementally better, but I felt like he just kind of said, ‘You know what, I want to be good at football’ and he took it even more serious. And off the field, and committed himself to it. And that was noticeable, because when he showed up in fall -- last spring and fall – he was just different that he was before.”
When outside linebacker Cam Goode suffered a season-ending injury in the 2018 opener, Paul’s playing time increased. He started nine games last season and recorded career highs of 32 tackles, including 8.0 tackles for losses.
One of the keys in recruiting is trying to determine how motivated a high school player is to improve through his college years.
“That’s the hardest thing,” Wilcox said. “We spend the most time trying to figure that out.”
Projecting how good a player will be in two, three or four years is skill, but it is an imperfect skill.
“If anybody had the magic algorithm on how to find out this person is going to be that, they’d have a corner on the market recruiting.”