Vista (Calif.) High's Stefan McClure didn't get a normal "in-home" visit with Cal coaches. He didn't even take an official visit to Berkeley.
Instead, his in-home consisted of newly-hired defensive backs coach Ashley Ambrose chatting him up at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio, Tex., after the US Army All-American Bowl, and he made plenty of unofficial trips up to Berkeley during his recruitment. For the 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback out of Vista (Calif.), that was enough.
McClure officially committed to the Bears on Thursday morning in a ceremony held at Vista High, choosing the Cal hat over those of Michigan, UCLA, Boise State and Oregon State.
"Just being on campus, getting that feel in your heart where you know this could be the place, that's mainly why I feel this was the place for me," McClure said. "I feel like I can go help contribute to what they're doing the next couple years.
"I have something to offer and that was one of the main reasons I picked them. Plus, you can't pass up the education."
While he didn't make an official visit, McClure did pick one heck of a game to take in during the 2010 season. The last time McClure visited Berkeley, the Bears nearly downed Oregon at Memorial Stadium, holding the nation's top offense to just 15 points.
"Aw yeah, the stadium was rocking and everything," McClure said. "That was a good environment, and you've got everything built around the game. They've got the new stadium that would be done there when I'm a sophomore, it's just all really good."
For his fellow Cal commits and US Army West teammates, the commitment doesn't come as much of a surprise. Offensive lineman Jordan Rigsbee told BearTerritory after the game that McClure sat with his now-future teammates on the bench and told them that he would wind up in Berkeley.
McClure made a key play for the West in the annual All-American contest, pulling down a clutch interception in the second quarter and returning it 18 yards to lead to a field goal.
The hiring of Ambrose proved to be a key difference-maker for McClure as he came down to decision time.
"I didn't know that was going to happen, but I know the guy really well from when he was at Colorado," McClure said after Jan. 4 US Army All-American Bowl West team practice. "I've got a good relationship with him, and he gave me one of my first offers, so I've got a good relationship with him. He's just a real nice guy, straight-forward and real with you. He gets guys right. He played in the League, so he knows what it takes. The guys I saw that he was working with at Colorado, he gets them right."
The commitment of the four-star cornerback likely rounds out the 2011 Cal recruiting class, which now boasts 10 four-star prospects out of a total of 19 players who will sign National Letters of Intent on Feb. 2. McClure is expected to help rather quickly given the razor-thin depth chart at cornerback.
After the graduation of Bryant Nnabuife and Darian Hagan, only four players remain with game experience at corner: Marc Anthony, Tyre Ellison, Josh Hill and Steve Williams. Redshirt freshmen Michael Coley and Adrian lee could also be in the mix.
"It's really the depth chart, the schooling, it's a good conference with tough games every week and it's far away from home, but still close enough that my parents will be able to make some home games," McClure said.
McClure was a do-everything star for the 12-1 Panthers this season, rushing 17 times for 154 yards and notching a team-best four picks for 59 return yards. He also defended five passes and caused one fumble. As a wide receiver, McClure led Vista with 58 catches, 1,317 yards and 13 touchdowns.
When he gets to Berkeley, McClure intends to major in either sports medicine or broadcasting and communications. McClure is rated as the No. 11-rated player in the state of California, the No. 9 cornerback in the country and is a member of the Rivals250, checking in at No. 118 overall.