Austin Aaron could have known years ago, coming to Memorial Stadium with his father and grandfather, that he was going to be a California Golden Bear.
He could have known last June, when Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin described some of his routes at the one-day Sonny Dykes Camp as "perfect," that he was going to catch passes on that same turf some day.
Austin Aaron could have known last week, when he attended Stanford's spring game, that he would be a California Golden Bear. But he didn't really know until he came to practice on Saturday.
"I just saw this one guy, this player, I forgot who it was, I saw his family run down from the stands and just embrace him, crying. I totally saw the love in their eyes, and I just can't leave my family. I can't do that," Aaron said of what happened after the Bears' 80-play scrimmage. "I absolutely love my family, and just watching a player from Cal come off, having his family in the stands come down and give the biggest hug and kiss after practice, it really set in with me. I can't see myself going across the country. I need my family, and I love my family. I need to stay in the Bay and play in front of my family and friends and teammates and coaches, because I have the best support system that any 17-year old kid could have."
It's fitting that the biggest draw for Cal in Aaron's book was family. His father played baseball on Evans Diamond with Jeff Kent. His grandfather sat in likely some of the same desks in which Aaron will one day sit. It's hard to put it any better than Aaron: "I bleed blue and gold."
That spring game visit to Palo Alto? Wearing a Stanford sweatshirt? It felt all sorts of wrong.
"Honestly, it did," Aaron laughs. "I put on a lanyard for a day, and I literally tore it off and said, ‘What am I doing!? I can't wear this cardinal. I've grown up in blue and gold, wearing all their gear and everything.' It was all weird."
Berkeley, though, is just the right type of weird. It's a weird that Aaron has grown up with all his life.
"My dad was all on board with me, and just felt like it was the total right decision for me and my family, so just ecstatic," Aaron said. "It was just a gut feeling. I bleed blue and gold, and this is the team I grew up watching every Saturday, and hoping to play for one day, and I just came to the realization that this is my school, and I want to play here."
Aaron told BearTerritory the news before he even got to call the coaches and tell them the good news. He made the decision not right after practice, but after coming home and talking it out with Mom and Dad.
"I told them I was really close to making a commitment, honestly but I just wanted to discuss it with my mom and my family, and just see what they had to say," Aaron said. "They were on board with me."
And now, Aaron is on board with Cal.
Beyond the Commitment: The Golden Child
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