Despite being a verbal commit to Washington since January, Bigelow says Cal moved ahead of the Huskies in the spring after attending the Bears junior day in late February.
"I wanted to decommit and look at other schools," said Bigelow. "But the [UW coaches] wouldn't let me," he chuckled.
Nonetheless, Bigelow still opened up his recruitment and started visiting schools, including a second visit to Cal in the spring. But it was his third visit that sealed the deal per se.
It was Cal's three-day camp in mid-June. However, Bigelow was still rehabbing from his November 2009 ACL injury and couldn't compete. While he didn't put on the pads and run routes with the other skill position players, the day will be most remember for its images of Bigelow playing catch with Cal head coach Jeff Tedford.
With hundreds of high school kids from all over the country on campus, there was the Golden Bears main man throwing passes to Bigelow.
"I told Coach Tedford and [RB] Coach [Ron] Gould I wanted to be a Bear," Bigelow recalled his conversation back on June 18. "But I told them I still wanted to take my visits. They were cool with that and said go ahead and if you still want to be a Bear we're here."
Throughout the summer, the recruiting world thought Bigelow was still a Washington verbal commitment – and to anyone that asked he still was.
"It was pretty hard, some of those schools I actually liked," he said of keeping his silent verbal to Cal quiet.
He continued through the recruiting process while continuing to rehab his knee until the unthinkable happened on August 21.
He had been practicing in pads since August 9 but on a grass surface. During his first live scrimmage contact on field turf since his injury, Bigelow tore his ACL again.
"When I plant, I plant, I go…it was my first game on turf I think that's what it was," he said. "It was a stretch play and Merced knew it was coming, my knee just buckled."
Initially, Bigelow thought he just sprained his knee until the MRI revealed the tear. The news broke him. His senior year was done, and the dream of obtaining his fifth star was out the window, which he admits was one of his main motivations for pushing himself back into action rapidly. What about his recruitment, would schools still honor their offers to a running back with two torn ACLs on the same knee?
Publicly, he was still a Husky. Secretly, he was a Bear. Both schools stood by him. And virtually all of his offer schools continued to recruit him, especially Oregon and Tennessee.
"Basically, I wanted to take some visits to make sure Cal was the right fit," added Bigelow.
He took official visits to Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, and Cal was his final visit last weekend.
"Tennessee was great," added Bigelow. "I have a lot of respect for Washington, it just wasn't the right fit for me. I committed too early."
The Ducks seemed to gain the most ground on the Bears as rumors started to circulate that Bigelow and teammate B.J. Kelley would both commit to Oregon during their official visits.
"Nah," he laughed. "I really liked Oregon, but I wasn't going to commit. I don't know about B.J., you gotta talk to him."
Finally, after four official visits and six months after initially telling Tedford and Gould that Cal was the place for him, Bigelow decided to end the drama.
"I told them I was going to come," Bigelow said of his conversations with Tedford and Gould during his official visit. "But I told them to give me a couple days to think about it with my dad and uncle…I talked to Tedford [Friday] and committed.
"It feels good to end this. I'm excited to be a Bear. It's close to home so my dad can come and see me...and they need some running backs…I'm gonna play [as true freshman.]
"I'm going to do just that but [the coaches] won't push me unless I'm ready."
As for his ACL, Bigelow says it will be definitely ready.
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