The first words out of Viane Talamaivao's mouth following his trip to Berkeley on Sunday just about say it all: "Aw, man, it was awesome, dude."
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound four-star interior offensive lineman came up to visit California as part of a larger group that included fellow four-star lineman Damien Mama, and said that the opportunity to visit was a highlight in and of itself.
"Just, man, everything about Cal has just been awesome," Talamaivao said. "More importantly, the trip up there, with the AIGA Foundation and all these players, brothers of mine, it was just awesome. It was a fun experience, overall, and getting to Cal, seeing what Northern California is like is, on its own, ridiculous. It was tight."
Both Talamaivao and Mama had one-on-one time with offensive line coach Zach Yenser, following their campus and facility tours.
"We talked with coach Yenser, and we also talked with coach Dykes, [and] they were just selling the whole program and telling us how we fit perfectly into their offense and the family atmosphere there at Cal," Talamaivao said.
Though the Simpson Center for Student Athlete High Performance is in its second year of operation, it is still doing its job and wowing recruits, in particular, Talamaivao, who said he had never seen a weight room as advanced as the High Performance Zone.
"It was way better than what I thought it was going to be," Talamaivao said. "I thought it was going to be nice, of course, because it's Cal, but I didn't think it was going to be that nice. It was ridiculous."
Another point in Cal's plus column came from not only the several Polynesian and Pacific Islander players on the current roster, but also the past success of players in the program with island roots.
"It's huge, seeing my culture -- my family is deeply rooted in my culture -- and it's good to see that a lot of us have gone up there to Cal and have gone and played at Cal and gone on to do bigger things in life," Talamaivao said. "It's good to know that the program has that family aspect to it, because to see other Polynesians such as myself go through and play at Cal and spend their years there, it shows and it gives the program a great boost in the sense of trust that I have in the program."
Talamaivao also has a connection with the Bears currently attending classes with him at Corona (Calif.) Centennial in 2013 defensive line signee Garrett Hughes.
"He walks around campus with Cal stuff on every day," Talamaivao laughed. "He's trying to get me up there. I'm glad I took this trip, because I finally got to see and I understand why he's going to Cal."
Now, Talamaivao said, he has something to talk about with Hughes in regards to Cal, as opposed to having Hughes talk at him.
Talamaivao also found comfort in the fact that the Bears run a spread-out offensive line, something with which he's already more than familiar.
"[Yenser] told me that it's a spread offense, but they have power tendencies to it, and I play in a spread system right now, so I'd like to say that I'm fairly used to playing in that type of offense, with power concepts and being spread out like that," Talamaivao said.
The visit served to cast the Cal program in a new light for Talamaivao, who boasts 13 scholarship offers, including Alabama, Mississippi, UCLA, Washington and Arizona.
"The interest level definitely rose," Talamaivao said. "I told the coaches the same thing. When Cal offered me, I didn't know much about the university, never really looked deeply into it, but just seeing the place and putting faces to names, to these coaches that I've been talking with, it was awesome. The interest level in Cal, their stock has definitely gone up."
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