Before he’s even been on an official to California, Cameron Saffle knew that he was on the verge of pulling the trigger. All it took was an in-home visit from defensive line coach Fred Tate. It was, after all, Saffle’s hand-picked school, in a sense, as he was the one who called Tate initially to offer up his highlight tape.
“The best part about this whole thing, was that, about a month ago, coach Tate flew up, the weekend after I called him, actually, and I met with him,” Saffle said. “It was cool to see him take time out to fly up, just to meet me in Washington. We had a great talk for about an hour, and that next week, the defensive coordinator, coach [Art] Kaufman, came up, and I fell in love with him, as well.”
Saffle – a 6-foot-3, 220-pound BUCK linebacker type – said that Tate – who wants him up to 250 pounds by this time next year – formed a quick connection with him and his family.
“We started looking at all the factors at Cal, and, education-wise, area-wise, today, my family and I had a great talk before he came over, and my gut feeling was, ‘I want to be a Golden Bear,’” Saffle said. “Over time, I saw the faults in other schools, and when Cal came knocking, it was the first big school to open its doors to me, so that was a great opportunity. I wouldn’t second-guess my decision. I’m just so excited for the opportunity that they’ve given me.”
Those doors, though, had to be given a nudge, and Saffle kicked them open.
“I was keeping my options open for other schools, but you don’t see a lot of recruits take the initiative and try to call a coach or call a school,” said Saffle. “You kind of wait for a coach to come there, and maybe they think they’re that good that coaches will come down and see them, but they don’t think about how a coach might miss a school. I had been trying to get a hold of the Cal offices for about two weeks, and I kept getting automated voice messages. In my mind, I knew none of them were going to get my voicemail. I looked online for people who worked in the football office, and I found someone in communications, so I got a hold of his number, he gave me coach Tate’s number, and I got a hold of coach Tate one morning at seven o’clock.”
That call, before school, on a Tuesday, ended with Tate being very, very receptive.
“I told him about myself a little bit, and I told him that if he’d look at my film, it’d be awesome,” said Saffle. “He said, ‘Why not? We’ll give you a chance. He watched my film, and that next Saturday, he called me and said, ‘I'm flying up to come meet you.’ It was weird to see how open he was. It was a random call. It was just a random recruit calling him, and he says, ‘Of course, I’ll watch your film.’ He watched my film, loved it, showed it to the defensive coordinator, he loved it, and they showed it to coach [Sonny] Dykes and he loved it.”
Saffle will visit officially in late January.
More from Saffle very soon, including his experiences teaching special needs children.