California hosted 12 offensive linemen on Sunday – comprising about half of the unofficial visit group which took over the Simpson Center following a local camp circuit event – and one of them is more than familiar with the Bears.
Granite Bay (Calif.) guard Steven Ponzo knows two former Cal baseball players -- Andrew Knapp and his father Mike – as well as current Bear baseballer in freshman Aaron Knapp -- Andrew's brother and Mike's son. They're all former Grizzlies, after all.
"I grew up with them. My older sister is actually 12 years older than me, so my family's been involved in Granite Bay for many years now. It's kind of cool being able to watch these guys and see how far they can go," Ponzo says of the two younger Knapps. "The Knapp brothers, I know them actually really well. I've worked out with their dad a couple of times, when I used to play baseball, so I know them very well. This is my first year not playing baseball. I just decided to really narrow things down and see what was important to me, and it ended up being football."
That decision has paid off, as the 6-foot-3, 271-pounder is now starting to get some serious interest, including an invite to the Berkeley campus on Sunday.
"The visit went awesome, really a lot more than I expected," Ponzo said. "I went there with an open mind, just to see what Cal could do for me, and it paid off. One of the best statements I heard the linebackers coach, coach (Andy) Buh, say, he told me that if you come to Cal, you're not making just a four- or five-year commitment. You're making a 50-year commitment. That's the life that Cal can provide for you. I'm very excited to see what the future holds for me and Cal, and I'm excited to see what can happen."
Ponzo also talked with offensive line coach Zach Yenser about a potential offer.
"Me and coach Yenser talked about a lot. I asked what it was looking like, and he said it looks like they're taking four or five guys at the O-line position, and right now, it's still early for the 2015 class. They're probably just offering the top guys, so they said that they're going to give it some time and see what happens," Ponzo said. "I hope the offer comes, because that'd be good.
"I love coach Yenser, and I love what they're doing. I can't express my interest toward them enough, because I really like what they're doing. The brand new coaching staff is starting from scratch, so I'm really excited to see what they can do this year and see how my future looks with them."
Ponzo is also talking with USC, UCLA and the Mountain West schools, which are coming by to see him during spring ball in April.
"I took a visit down to San Diego State, an unofficial, and Boise State," Ponzo said. "The Pac-12 is just starting to shoot interest my way the past couple weeks. Coach Angus McClure wants me to come down, USC just randomly started showing interest a week or two ago."
Michigan State, Missouri, San Jose State and Stanford have also shown interest.
One of the reasons schools have taken a shine to Ponzo is that he's a very flexible and athletic guard, thanks in large part to the fact that he spends his winters as a wrestler for Granite Bay.
He's never tried to pull an Alex Mack and do the full front splits, but, he said, he may have to try soon, just to see if he can do it.
"I'm pretty flexible, but I don't know about the splits. I'm going to have to try and get back to you," he laughed. "Wrestling is probably one of the best sports that offensive linemen and defensive linemen can play. It gives you agility, and it gives you the body control that no other sport can give you. Not only that, but it makes you the toughest guy out there. It benefits you a lot with your body control, how to use your hands and what-not."
Ponzo Talks Cal Visit
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