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Ask a fan of California football what wrestling can do for a football player, and you'll get a two-word answer: Alex Mack.
The Pro-Bowl center for the Cleveland Browns was a split-tacular sensation during his time in Berkeley, and continually credited his past in the squared circle with his ability to be a road-grading big ugly.
Now, the Bears get another former grappler in the College of San Mateo's Trevor Kelly, and he's got quite the resume on the mat.
At South San Francisco (Calif.) El Camino, Kelly boasted a 50-6 overall mark as a wrestler, and he takes plenty of pride in his accomplishments on the mat.
"I wrestled in high school, so I went from 295 [pounds playing football] down to 260," Kelly says. "I did it for all four years, and I took that sport very seriously."
"I was ranked seventh in the state," says Kelly. "I made the state tournament and went 4-2, top-10 in the state. I won my section up in the Bay Area, the Central Coast Section."
When it came time to make his decision to commit, there wasn't much grappling to be done for Kelly.
"The coolest part about my visit this weekend: I really, really liked and got a better feeling for the strength and conditioning program. That was a big part of my recruitment, and I had all my questions answered," Kelly says. By the time his visit was over, Kelly was as quick as a single leg shot.
"My visit went great. On Sunday, [Sonny Dykes] asked if I had anything to say or if I had any questions, and I told him I'm excited to be a Cal Bear," says Kelly.
Though he briefly thought about trying to keep up with wrestling competitively, Kelly says that he knew he was going to choose the football path coming out of high school, even though he only had one scholarship offer – Sacramento State.
When Illinois -- which does have a wrestling team -- offered, Kelly thought about trying to do both for an instant, but the realities of participating in both were harsh, and very apparent.
"College wrestling is a lot different than high school wrestling; It's a lot tougher," Kelly says. "I thought about wrestling in college, but I chose the football path. It's tough on the body. Wrestling in college is tough on the body, and including football, it's just tough. If I had the opportunity to, I'd definitely want to try it out, because wrestling was a great sport, and I enjoyed it, a lot.
"They had a club team," Kelly says of the Hornets. "I didn't really get a chance to do it. I still go to a couple wrestling practices at my high school to help out, but also to get workouts, still. I still keep up with the sport, because it's a phenomenal sport. It's a sport that's helped out my athletic ability a lot."
The Bears like Kelly's tenacity and toughness on the field, a trait he learned not wearing pads, but wearing a singlet.
"I talked to coach [Barry] Sacks about it, and he said I have a nice body frame and what-not; good strength and quickness off the ball is key," Kelly says. "He just likes the way I play – always wrecking the football. He really liked that about me."
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BearTerritory.netYesterday at 11:54 PM