California commit Chad Whitener's American squad fell to the National team 20-9 in Sunday's Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Houston.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker finished with two tackles for loss (seven total) and a forced fumble, and -- with a field full of three- and four-star recruits -- a preview of the talent he'll face at the collegiate level.
"It was a step up in speed," Whitener told GoldenBearReport Monday afternoon. "They were top-notch kids, it being an All-American game. I enjoyed the experience. It kind of challenged me to be technically better.
"I mean, that's what college is going to be like."
Whitener, who has been one of Cal's most solid commits since verballing in May, also found out what college is going to sound like on Sunday when the 3-star spoke with new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Andy Buh for the first time.
"I've known (Cal head) coach (Sonny) Dykes, I took visit down (to Louisiana Tech), met him, met his whole family, he really preaches and practices his family atmosphere," Whitener said. "I talked to coach Buh for the first time Sunday. I liked how confident he was with me being committed, he was excited with how I can be used in his scheme."
According to Whitener, Buh plans to run a defense somewhat similar to what was run this year at Wisconsin, where he served as the linebackers coach.
With the coaching staff and defense now coming into focus, Whitener says he's turning his attention to recruiting. The Mansfield High (Mansfield, Texas) product will take an official visit on January 18th along with a pair of 4-star recruits.
"Really, I'm just going up to hang out with the players. I'm 100% on Cal, I'm just going up there to hang out, and help recruit. That's the only visit I'm going to take."
It's not, however, the only time he'll see coach Buh.
"Yeah, he said to be sure to call him after the Rose Bowl, so he can set up a trip to come down and visit me in person."