Tony Mekari loves pressure. He thrives on it. He needs it.
Under the bright lights of the Cal State Game in December, the former Arizona commit – who had only that Wildcats offer – recorded a fumble recovery, two sacks and a few Frisbee-tosses of opposing offensive linemen. In the muck and the mud and the slime, Mekari was at his best.
Playing for a powerhouse program at Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake, Mekari played against the likes of Encino (Calif.) Crespi, Granite Bay, and Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. In previous years, he played Oaks Christian, Newhall (Calif.) Hart and Concord (Calif.) De La Salle.
Mekari is vacillating between majoring in pre-med or business, and cannot for the life of him figure out why, other than the fact that he loves pressure.
"I don't know if I have a specific label on it or a specific thing that I like about it, but I think it has to do with the part of football, where I just like the pressure," he says. "I like the types of situations where you can't mess up, you have to do everything the best that you can and you have to always be top-notch in everything that you do."
None of that pressure, though, could hold a candle to his downright Shakespearian dilemma over the past 24 hours: To Bear, or not to Bear.
"It was a very tough situation," says Mekari, who paid a hush-hush unofficial visit to Cal on Monday. "Arizona, they're a top-notch university, so it was a very tough decision. After we got there (to Berkeley), I stayed up the whole night on the drive back, thinking about it, calling my family, calling my coaches, everything like that. My phone died probably three times -- that's how many people I called. It was a hard decision."
It was just a week earlier that Cal had first offered him, after a stellar Cal State Game performance, when he told Cal Sports Digest that he wouldn't even consider the Bears until he had an offer, and even then, he still loved Arizona. But that little crack in the door -- if they offer -- was big enough for Barry Sacks and Andy Buh to shimmy through.
"I spoke to coach Sacks on the phone once or twice, and coach Buh was there, also, but this whole situation came on fast," says Mekari. "It wasn't like I was thinking about going to Cal, or I'd been talking to Cal for three or four months. It was all in a couple of days, that it really changed."
Mekari almost sounds out of breath just talking about the last two days. The impromptu visit to Cal was a big step in sealing the deal, and he wasn't even intended to make one.
"Other than the Cal name itself, and the stuff that that can do for me, the facilities were great," says Mekari. "Everything about the school was great. I love the Bay Area, and the city itself. I just saw myself being there."
Mekari was not alone on his visit, coming out with his father, who -- along with just about the whole Mekari clan -- helped Tony iron out his final choice.
"My parents, they wanted me to make the decision for myself," he says. "They didn't necessarily say, ‘Do this' or ‘Do that.' They wanted to make me make the decision for myself. I think they just helped me out with the things that we saw at Arizona, the things that we saw at Cal – which are both very top-notch situations, with facilities and everything with that. My parents, my uncles, my grandparents, my coaches, they showed me the difference between what I see at my age, and what they see at their age."
Stay tuned for more from Mekari on his recruitment and where he'll fit in once he gets to Cal.
Beyond the Commitment: Tony Mekari
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