Michael Trani is no stranger to the college recruiting game. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound interior offensive lineman has seen his La Mirada (Calif.) teammates explode onto the scene, players like Koa Kaleopaa last year, fellow 2014 recruits Tyler Luatua and Dallis Todd, and 2015 stud Kevin Dilman. Now, though, it's finally become Trani's time, as he closes in on his sixth scholarship offer.
"I knew that they were a big-time academic school," Trani said of his recent interest on the part of California. "They're really high up there in academics. I joked around with my parents a couple times, like, ‘Oh, what if I went to Cal?' And they're like, ‘Aw, we'll see,' academics-wise. I know, football-wise, they ball pretty hard. They get out there and they do what they do."
Trani takes particular pride in the fact that, last year, his unit allowed only two sacks, while plowing the way for 2,626 rushing yards, with three players rushing for 300 yards or more.
"Last year, I think we only had two sacks, and one of them was because of the fullback, who didn't make his block. We're going to try and make it zero," Trani said.
Trani has been talking frequently with Bears offensive line coach Zach Yenser, who likes his knee bend, footwork, aggressiveness and finish.
As for what Trani likes about the new staff? That's easy.
"I've seen a couple games, and they ball. They really do," Trani said.
Getting a hold of Trani is no easy task for Yenser. The former graduate assistant at Louisiana Tech had to speak with Trani on Tuesday morning before school, because afterward, he had an SAT prep class and was engaged in helping to tutor some of his Gaucho teammates.
"Right now, I have a 3.3 (GPA), but I've been lagging on some of my schoolwork," Trani admits. "I'm not proud of that, so I've been working to get it up to around a 3.6, 3.8 -- hopefully to a 4.0. I'm working on it."
There haven't been many schools as persistent as Cal in Trani's recruitment, despite the fact that he already has offers from Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico and New Mexico State.
"My second offer was from New Mexico State, and they called me a couple times to keep track of me and say ‘What's up?' and I know Hawaii, when they offered me, they called me a couple times, and Boise State hasn't offered me, but they keep track of me on Facebook and stuff," Trani said. "But, Cal, I call them quite a bit ... It's exciting. It's really humbling. It shows where my hard work has gone, and it makes me want to work even harder to want to get that offer from them."
Trani is no stranger to hard work. La Mirada head coach – and former Colorado quarterback -- Mike Moschetti -- has instituted a skull-busting workout regimen for his team, one which Trani takes to with great vigor.
"We always say, ‘Do it for your city,' so that's what I like to do -- I like to work for my city," Trani said. "We've started these lifts – we call it conventus, which means to bring together, and really, it's to bring the team together as one, as a family. We do it in the mornings at 5:30 in the morning. Kids wake up, they might not live in La Mirada, so they have to wake up at four o'clock to get to school, or 3:30, because they have to walk to school. We find a way to do it."
After school, Trani gets in yet another weight session with his teammates, and he's an absolute animal. Trani maxes out at nearly 315 pounds in the bench ("I want to get higher than that," Trani said. "I've done it before."), reps 270 pounds in the leg press and power cleans 225 pounds.
When Yenser visits Trani in the coming weeks, he'll certainly have to get up before the crack of dawn to be able to see his target in full flower, but that's not that much of a stretch for the first-year O-line coach, who regularly gets into the office before 5:30 a.m. Having Yenser himself not far removed from the rigors of playing -- last seeing the field for Troy in 2006 -- is a plus for Trani.
"My O-line coach went through all that, playing in high school and college, and looking at him now, he's got a lot of experience, and I trust him. He has stories that he shares with us, and to have another coach have those same experiences, I think it's pretty cool to talk with him and see what he says about stuff," Trani said. "He's a good coach. He seems like he'd be hard on players, and teach them what's right, teach them what's good, and just how to be a man, because that's what football does to you. You've just got to be a man, and you've got to be disciplined. He told me that he wants them to be strong up front, obviously. He wants to hit ‘em hard."
Trani runs mainly power sets for La Mirada, but is versatile enough to play in just about any system.
"We run weak and strong, so I'll play on the right side and on the left side. We are mostly a run team, so we pound, almost every play, which I love. I love to hit," Trani said. "I can play anything. Whatever college wants whatever, whatever college I go to, whatever they want me to play, I'll play. I can play center, both guards, both tackles. I can play all of it."
Bears Train Sights on Trani
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