Lost in the hubbub of California’s last big official weekend before the current dead period – and the four commitments that came out of that weekend and the the previous one -- was the fact that the latest visit weekend also helped shore up a wavering commitment from much-needed defensive tackle Luc Bequette.
Headed into the Dec. 12 weekend, Bequette was enticed by Vanderbilt – a school close to what he considers his home – Arkansas.
“It’s hard leaving the South, but having a bunch of Southern coaches and other guys come in from the South, it doesn’t seem like you’re too far away from home. I love California, and I really loved Nashville, too, but I just fell in love with the Bay Area,” Bequette says of his official visit to Berkeley.
“Really, I just needed to see Cal and really see the campus and facilities and get to know all the guys,” Bequette says. “I’d been out there for the camp, an I got a little tour there, a golf cart tour – nothing big or anything – and we came out for the Colorado game, and our plane got delayed and stuff like that, and we just got there in the middle of the game, and we didn’t get to really see much there. I kind of blindly committed to Cal, almost, and seeing everything and seeing the dorms and what goes on in daily life as a Bear, that kind of re-solidified my commitment.”
What followed that official visit was, of course, the bevy of commitments – five, in total – with three of them having been Bequette’s fellow visitors.
“That was crazy,” says Bequette 10 days ago. “I don’t know if that kid from Alabama (DePriest Turner) has gone public yet (he soon would), but Ross [Bowers] was telling our group message that he’s a for-sure commit, now. He just hasn’t made it public, yet. That’s another big one.”
Bequette – at his third high school in four years – is set to embark on his senior wrestling season after making some headway last year following a move from Champaign (Ill.) Centennial. He missed the first two tournaments of the season due to official visits to Vanderbilt and then to Cal, but is participating on his first outing this week.
Bequette started wrestling his freshman year at Champaign (Ill.) St. Thomas More largely at the insistence of his father, a former Arkansas football player.
“Really, my dad forced me to do it. I was always a basketball guy, and I was going to play basketball in high school, but my dad said, ‘Freshman year, you’re going to wrestle. It’ll make you tougher for football. After your freshman year, you can do what you want.’ So, I did it freshman year, and I really loved my coach and we had a small team, so we all bonded together. It was really fun. Even if I did want to play basketball, it would have been hard to tell the coach that I was quitting, so I stuck with it, and the rest is history.”
His freshman year at St. Thomas More, Bequette was an alternate at sectionals, and as a sophomore, he made sectionals on his own. He did not wrestle at Centennial before moving to Arkansas, where he had to sit behind an already-established varsity member of his weight class (220-285). This year, it’s his time to shine.
“This year, I’ll have a pretty good year, if I just stay focused on what I’m good at in wrestling, and not try to do something that I’m not good at,” says Bequette. “I actually started wrestling at 195, and kind of got really big, but I still wrestle like a smaller guy. I don’t do a bunch of headlocks. I wrestle like a regular wrestler, and it kind of throws people off, sometimes, too. It’s when I start trying to do headlocks and stuff that I get caught and get thrown on my back.”
Trying to wrestle out of his comfort zone proved to be Bequette’s downfall last season when he wrestled in a varsity tournament.
“Last year, there were a few tournaments where you could have two [varsity] wrestlers, and I wrestled in those, and got third in one,” says Bequette. “I should not have lost to the guy that I lost to. Honestly, he looked like a pushover, and I kind of tried to mess around with him, but it turned out he was really strong, and I wore myself out. I have to try not to do anything stupid that could make me lose.”
Instead, because Bequette started out wrestling at 195 pounds, he employs a different style than most other wrestlers his size.
“I still wrestle like a smaller guy,” he says. “I don’t do a bunch of headlocks. I wrestle like a regular wrestler, and it kind of throws people off, sometimes, too. It’s when I start trying to do headlocks and stuff that I get caught and get thrown on my back.
“I do a lot of single-leg and ankle pick, but my really devastating move – and people usually know it’s coming, but they can’t stop it -- I’ll take a shot at one of their legs, like their near leg, and I wrap around their leg and use your shoulder into their knee and torque them down and their knee can’t go that way, so they have to go down. Then, I look for a cradle to go to from there.”
One thing that Bequette isn’t wrestling with anymore is his decision to commit to Cal back in August, and now, he can grapple with opponents, instead of other schools trying to wrench him away from the Bears.
“I got to know a lot of the guys, and I had a really good time, and I really liked everything,” he says of his visit. “It was that last day, at the brunch at the hotel, where people were leaving, and saying, ‘We’re coming here,’ and stuff like that. That was pretty cool.
“Really, it was just seeing the facilities and the area that was important for me, and talking with some of the guys there. What really stuck out to me was that not only is there unlimited food at the facility, but they have a card deal at the restaurants around school. You just have to swipe the card. Chipotle was one of them, Jamba Juice, and that’s awesome.”