“Well, throughout the summer I shared reps at QB, but I did not win the job,” Head said earlier this week. “My coaches wanted me to work somewhere else and get on the field. They rotated me in at safety in the first week, and I eventually formed into the starter.”
After Head’s first and only season on the defensive side of the ball, California had seen enough to extend a scholarship offer – Head’s first Power 5 opportunity.
“Cal offered and will be watching how I develop, projecting me as a safety or potential outside linebacker,” said Head, who certainly has the size, at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds. “I had never played defense before this season. I was very raw, but my coaches definitely get the credit for teaching me everything.”
Defensive coordinator Art Kaufman took the lead with Head, offering him off of his sophomore film, and after visiting Etowah this spring.
“Coach Kaufman, he liked my length and aggressiveness. He saw a lot of potential in me, and what I could bring,” said Head. “I met coach Kaufman and coach [Tony] Franklin this spring, but neither saw me play. Coach Kaufman really liked my film and offered me off of it. It was cool meeting him. He seems laid back but also very passionate about the Cal defense.”
Head has taken to the new position with gusto, and was named to the 6A First-Team All-State at safety, with 140 tackles, three picks, 15 pass break ups and two forced fumbles.
“The mental aspect for sure,” Head said of where he feels he improved the most. “I always felt like I was fast enough and tough enough, but learning the position and its responsibilities was where I improved the most.”
Having played quarterback certainly helped.
“It has really affected my leadership and being a field general for the defense,” he said.
Despite his distance from Berkeley, Head knows the Cal brand quite well.
“I knew that Cal Berkeley was one of the top universities in the world,” he said. “I knew there's a bunch of famous alumni in the NFL. Since the offer, I've learned that the fan base really loves the Bears. Everyone I run into reminds of how big a deal this school is.”
How does a kid out in Georgia run into so many Bears faithful? Well, basketball had something to do with it.
Being the only sophomore on Etowa’s basketball team, he didn’t see much time on the floor, but his team did play against Cal signee Jaylen Brown.
“A lot of people in my community know about my offer and are familiar with how prestigious Cal is,” Head said. “Also, the new star Cal basketball signee Jaylen Brown is from around where I am. So, everyone knows about him here. I don't know him personally, but he's a great guy. We are in the same region for basketball.”
Cal was the second school to offer Head, after UNC Charlotte, but other schools are showing interest, including Clemson, North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt. It’s no winder that academic heavy hitters are involved, given Head’s 3.97 GPA.
“Coach Kaufman thought I was a good fit with my grades,” Head said.