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September 21, 2011

AZ Safety takes Hoff-er he can't refuse



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Arizona: home to Spring Training and now, two recent defensive back commits for California.

At about 3 PM on Tuesday, three-star safety Zach Hoffpauir gave a ring to Bears head coach Jeff Tedford, but when he didn't get an answer, he rang defensive coordinator -- and Arizona area recruiter -- Clancy Pendergast to give him the news.

"It was about three o'clock today, actually a little earlier, about 2:30, and I called coach Pendergast and told him," Hoffpauir told BearTerritory on Tuesday night. "I tried to call coach Tedford, but he couldn't pick up, but I told coach Pendergast today."

Hoffpauir last visited Berkeley over the summer on an unofficial visit during one of Cal's football camps.

"I worked out a little bit, then I went and saw the facilities that are being built and all that stuff," Hoffpauir said. "Then, I got to meet all the coaches and they told us all about it."

Hoffpauir eventually hopes to take an official trip up to Berkeley.

Pendergast -- the former defensive coordinator for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals -- is a native of the Grand Canyon State, and was Hoffpauir's primary recruiter. This is the second straight year Pendergast has gone back to the old homestead to pick up a defensive back, signing now-greyshirt Jordan Morgan last year.

"He had come down to see me a few times, and he was the one I'd been in touch with a lot," Hoffpauir said. "I loved everything about the place when I went there on an unofficial visit. I loved coach Pendergast, coach Tedford, coach [Ashley] Ambrose, and I feel that I have a pretty good chance of competing as a freshman for a spot. I liked their baseball program when I was there, too."

Hoffpauir -- a center fielder and sometimes catcher -- will not only play football for Cal come next year, but he'll make like current tight end Jacob Wark and suit up on the diamond, as well.

"I talked with the baseball coaches, and I like everything about Cal," Hoffpauir said. "[Playing two sports] is what I would like to do, and that's what I'm planning to do."

"It was pretty amazing that they could go from almost not being a program to going to the College World Series, which is a really good thing. I'd talked to some of the coaches at the Area Code Games, and I really liked them and I like coach [David] Esquer, so altogether, I like everything about it."

Last season for Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial, Hoffpauir hit .356 with 16 RBI, 26 runs scored, four triples and a .667 slugging percentage. He mashed seven doubles and four homers, to go along with four triples.

"One of the better prospects in Arizona," said Kevin Stewart of ArizonaVarsity.com. "Center fielder, probably will be decent draft pick next spring. Our guy down here had him in the top 20 for Arizona."

AZVarsity also gave this additional baseball scouting report on the 10th-best football player in the state:

Earned an invitation to play in the Area Code Games August 5-10 at Long Beach State ... 6-foot, 205 pounds… bats right/throws right … GPA 3.8 … top all-around athlete… Honorable mention 5A Desert West Region in baseball in 2010 … BA .356 … 26 R … 31 H … 16 RBI's … 7 2B … 4 3B … 4 HR's … 9 BB … OBP .449 … SLG .667 … 2010: Missed most of the season due to injury … 2009: 2nd team All-Desert West Region … BA .404 … 38 H … 7 2B … 3 HR … excels in football, basketball and track.

In fact, both the Bears and Stanford afforded Hoffpauir the opportunity to play both sports, while he had not yet talked to his third top contender -- Arizona -- about the possibility.

"My top three schools were Cal, Stanford and U of A, and I just felt comfortable and I wanted to get my decision made sometime early in the season, so I just ended up doing it today," Hoffpauir said. "Stanford did offer to let me play baseball, but Arizona, I didn't talk to them much about that, playing both sports."

On the gridiron, Hoffpauir is a 6-foot, 195-pound, hard-hitting safety, ranked No. 22 in the nation at that position.

"I think I'm really good at finding the ball and causing turnovers," Hoffpauir said. "I have real good instincts and I have good closing speed. I hit pretty hard, I like playing down in the box and I like playing deep, but the big thing for me is causing turnovers, which I do pretty well."

As a junior, Hoffpauir caught 25 balls for 372 yards and five touchdowns, while notching 73 tackles as a safety. He had offers from the Cardinal, the Wildcats, the Bears, Air Force, Arizona State, Colorado, Duke, Montana, Navy, Northern Arizona, Northwestern, Toledo, UCLA, Utah State and Washington.

So far this season, Hoffpauir has been a bit of a do-everything man for the Coyotes, rushing 16 times for 214 yards and six touchdowns, catching two passes for 30 yards and a touchdown, making nine tackles, picking off one pass, deflecting another and even returning two kickoffs for 38 total yards. Centennial is now 4-0 (including a forfeit win over La Joya Community) with a contest coming up this weekend against Surprise (Ariz.) Willow Canyon (2-2).

"We've been doing really well," Hoffpauir said. "I don't know Willow Canyon's record, but they're a good team. It all depends on how we prepare and how we focus on our game. If we do that, it should take care of itself."





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