RECRUIT REACTION: JuCo DL Pays a Visit

Three-star JuCo defensive lineman talks about his trip to California and his time watching the sixth Bears practice of the fall.

BERKELEY -- Among the largest clutch of spectators to take in a California fall practice in years on Saturday was one face that was hard to miss, either due to his size or his contempt for properly-fitting sleeves: De Anza Junior College defensive lineman Victor Vernon.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Vernon – who signed with Indiana in 2011 out of New Lenox (Ill.) Providence Catholic – left the Hoosiers when the coaching staff changed, and followed his older sister out to California. Vernon's sister – Allie Vernon -- is currently a redshirt junior defender playing soccer for Santa Clara, making things plenty easy on his parents when they come out to visit, particularly because the two live together.

"They come out and watch me play, and watch her play," Vernon said.

On Saturday, Vernon – who just finished summer classes, and had a weekend open -- and several other De Anza players visited Berkeley, with Vernon getting the full treatment, spending between six and seven hours on campus, including spending much of practice watching his potential future teammates on the defensive line.

"We went around the whole campus, went into the locker room, sat in on the meetings and watched the practice," Vernon said. "I had a little meeting with the defensive line coach [Barry Sacks]."

With the Bears looking to bring in upwards of four defensive linemen in this class, the staff has started to mine the JuCo ranks, spending several hours towards the end of the first week of camp reviewing film. Vernon's stuck out.

"They said they want me to come in and be their three-technique, and I sent my transcripts in, so we'll see," said Vernon, who's seen his stock soar recently, reporting offers from Texas, Utah, Utah State, Cincinnati, Oregon State and San Jose State, to go along with his offers from Kansas and Miami.

"I've been getting a lot of calls lately," Vernon said.

Vernon turned in a 3.5 GPA last quarter at De Anza, and as such, he's looking for a place where he can play right away, as well as a more academically-inclined institution.

"The one thing I want is a really good education," Vernon said. "I'm looking for a good accounting program and business program."

On that account, the Bears scored quite highly.

"That's definitely a plus," Vernon said of Haas Business School.

The first thing that Vernon noted about the activity on the field was the pace of practice.

"It was a little different than Indiana," Vernon said. "It's a little bit more faster paced, right to the point. I though that was kind of nice. It was pretty cool."

As far as the visit as a whole, Vernon was intrigued, to say the least.

"They score pretty high, based on their academics," Vernon said. "That's a school I'd like to go to, for academics. I have other schools. Some schools want me to play an outside linebacker, a rush, and I have thoughts of playing that position, and Cal wants me to put on another 10 or 15 pounds and play the three-technique. It really just comes down to the position I want to play, and I have to factor academics in, too."

Vernon went to Indiana as a defensive end, and has played both end and tackle for De Anza.

"Last year, I had a lot of highlights inside as well as outside, so a lot of schools have seen that," said Vernon, who tallied 17 tackles, two sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, as well as an interception last season.

The internal debate for Vernon is centered on weight. He's not sure if he wants to drop down and become an outside linebacker, or gain weight to play on the interior.

"I could either put on weight for the interior and play at 300 pounds, or – I'm 270 now, so I could actually lose a little bit," Vernon said. "I could lean up, get faster and quicker. It's really just, ‘Can I put that weight on and be healthy?' Is it going to be good weight or is it going to be fat?"

Vernon on pace to graduate in December. He will have two years to play two.

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