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May 22, 2012
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The first and last words out of Mansfield (Tex.) linebacker Chad Whitener's mouth when he spoke to BearTerritory after his commitment to California were: "Go Bears!"
"I am a Bear," he said excitedly. "I felt like it was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I really wanted to take it. It's really just the whole academic situation there, and I looked at how the depth chart would work out by the time I get there, and they recruited me at the position I want to play. We did our own homework on the school, too, don't get me wrong, but it's the perfect place for me."
Sight-unseen, the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Mike linebacker pledged to the Bears on Tuesday evening, just five days after linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson extended him a scholarship offer following a short viewing of spring practice.
"He said, 'I'll call you tonight,' and we talked on the phone, he ran down the whole situation with the offer and ever since then, I've really been doing my homework on the school, the academics and the athletic program and all the new renovations that are going on," Whitener said. "I already knew about the conference, and it just worked out. I liked them a lot."
Cal's academic reputation closed the deal for the 3.75-GPA scholar, who puts as much time and study into his schoolwork as he does going over game tape.
"At my school, I watch film whenever I get a chance, and I watch old games, I make reads of games," Whitener said. "I see where I didn't make the right read, so I can apply it to practice and to my future performances. It helps me get faster and it shows me where I need to be quicker."
Whitener will come out to visit the campus for the first time on June 1, and will hang around to participate in the Bears' one-day Showcase Camp on June 3.
"Right now, I'm planning on doing some stuff in camp, but I don't know; I'm not positive," Whitener said. "I'm excited to see the campus, really. I saw it online, and it looks awesome. I just want to see it in person. Both my parents are coming."
Last season for Mansfield, Whitener recorded 194 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two picks.
"I'm instinctive, I don't get blocked a lot by linemen," Whitener said. "I'm strong and when I hit people, they feel it. They get knocked. They stay hit and they fall back."
Whitener is as strong as he is instinctive, benching 335 pounds, squatting 455, inclining 295 and power cleaning 235. His best 40 time is 4.65 seconds.
"I like the scheme -- the 3-4 defense," Whitener said of the Bears' defense. "A lot of pro teams -- a lot of successful pro teams -- run it, and I feel like I could really flourish in that system."