Trip Report: Tony Mekari

A mere matter of weeks after his unofficial visit and commitment, Tony Mekari returns to Berkeley, along with more than a dozen others, for his official visit.

Most prospects will use official visits as the opportunity to get a free flight and plenty of free meals. Not Tony Mekari. The Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake defensive tackle – and California commit – decided that he and his parents would make the five-hour, 20-minute drive up the I-5 for his official visit to Berkeley.

The trip was all former Arizona commit Mekari could have hoped for, from his new college choice.

"It was more. I was excited with my choice, now. It was incredible," Mekari said. "All the stuff that they showed, the facilities, we got to see it more in-depth now, so it was a blast."

Mekari's mother -- who was not with him the last time he made an unofficial trip to Cal -- was quite taken with her son's new digs.

"They loved it. My mom didn't come out last time, so this was her first time seeing it. She absolutely loved it," Mekari said of his parents. "We told her all about the trip, so she somewhat understood the parts of the trip we were at. She loved it, and my dad probably likes it twice as much, now."

Hosted by linebacker Nathan Broussard, Mekari was enamored with not only the school and the football program, but the city and its surroundings, as well.

"I liked the city of Berkeley a lot, just how everything's set up. Yeah, it's a small city, and it's not like San Francisco, but I don't like being packed in, in a big city like San Francisco or L.A. or New York," Mekari said. "Some cities are really packed, and I kind of like that, but yet, we're so close to it, which is good to go visit."

Everything about the official visit was a more in-depth, educational version of what Mekari and his father had seen on their unofficial visit just a few weeks ago.

"It was way better. They really spoiled us," Mekari laughed. "Some of the guys had never even been on a boat before, so when we went on the ferry, they were all nervous and stuff. It was much cooler, just to show how much diversity the city of Berkeley has, showing us how your normal day would go, going to class and stuff.

"When we first got there on my unofficial, it was a quick glance-over everything. Now, with an official, we have more time to go look at the stadium, the weight room, the academic center and the dorms and stuff. That was satisfying. It wasn't just a quick screen shot of it, on my unofficial. Spending time with the other recruits is also what helped me out a lot."

Mekari especially enjoyed defensive line coach Barry Sacks, who's been described endearingly as a crazy old guy and "on his own world," by his recent commits.

"He has his own way, which is incredible, because it seems like he can push you and make you do stuff that you don't think is possible," Mekari said. "He's a very great coach to play for, and I can't wait for that. He's not necessarily crazy, but he's great ... We ate dinner pretty close to each other, at the same table, basically, so we talked to him, had individual meetings with him. Most of the coaches were always with us, so wherever we went -- whether we went to dinner or the ferry or the bus, they were with us. My parents and I, we were with him the whole time, so we got to know more about him, and the same with the other coaches, too."

For Mekari – who is vascilating between majoring in business or going pre-med – the academic component was also a highlight.

"Another big part of it was the academic examples and stuff. They set up a deal with the people who would be our academic support, someone who would help us with internships with the big corporations in San Francisco, so that made me feel like I made a really good choice," Mekari said. "We had breakfast on Sunday morning with a guy from the business school, so I got to sit down with him a little bit, and some of the guys were majoring in business, so I ended up speaking with them, too. It comforted me, a little bit."

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