Cal linebacker commit Jordan Kunaszyk talks four brothers, Mighty Mites and Shaq Thompson

We go beyond the commitment with new Cal pledge Jordan Kunaszyk, who grew up in a house of four brothers, and survived to tell the tale.

Nearly 10 years ago, a young Jordan Kunaszyk and his youth football team paid a visit to Berkeley for a game. Kunaszyk, now a California commit, remembers a few things about that day.

"It was before it was renovated," he says. "I think it was my Pee Wee year, when DeSean Jackson was there, and I think it was DJax's last year at Cal. I played with the Junior Timberwolves, and Shaq Thompson, he was a Midget, and Syd'Quan, his older brother, played for Cal, so a bunch of us Junior Timberwolves, we went down to Cal and we watched a night practice, and then we got to go on the field. It was a cool experience."

In less than six months, he'll be stepping on that field again, this time, as one of the players he watched that day from the stands.

"That's a dream come true," Kunaszyk said the day of his commitment. He now has three more years to play three for the Golden Bears, and will enroll in the summer.

••••• It took two more unofficial visits over the course of the last few months, as well as an official visit last weekend, to finally get Kunaszyk to pull the trigger. 

"I'd been to Cal on visits, and I think, once I saw Colorado, it made me think a little bit more," he said. "I really liked Colorado a lot, and after my visit, I really thought about it a lot, prayed about it and slept on it. I just think, all along, deep down inside of me, in my heart, and my guy feeling, it's been Cal. Ever since I went on my first visit, I've told my parents that I really see myself playing here, and I could see myself excelling here, and being successful. After that, I said, 'If they offer, I'll pull the trigger,' but then I had Colorado jump in, as well, and I wanted to explore my options and make sure that that was really what I wanted to do, and I took my time with the decision. Ultimately, Cal was where my heart's at, and I'm all-in."

Coming out of Roseville (Calif.), just outside of Sacramento, Kunaszyk grew too late to get any notice from colleges, besides, he says, he "didn't necessarily have the grades."

But, what he did have was a voracious appetite for football. He considers himself a football junky. Outside of football, he loves two things: Family and training. He'll listen to just about any kind of music, ranging from rap, hip hop, reggae and rock to Christian music, but, he said, there's no Taylor Swift of Katy Perry on his iPod. No Firework for this linebacker.

He is the second-oldest of five brothers -- no sisters -- and calls his mom "a trooper," for being the eye of the hurricane in his house.

Between 21-year old Brandon, Jordan, 13-year old Ethan, 4-year old Colton and 2-year old Cameron, his household growing up was certainly interesting.

"Growing up, me and my older brother fought kind of a lot, but we hit a point and we haven't gotten into a fight in years," says Kunaszyk. "The house is always chaotic, with the two little ones, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love them more than anything. My mom's a trooper. Five boys, no girls."

None of his brothers, though, play football. Neither did his father.

"I know my two little ones are gonna," he said. "They run around with a football and a football helmet, and they just go, 'Football! Football!' I think I have a really positive impact on their lives, with what I'm doing. I think them watching me, as they grow up, it's going to make them want to play and be like me."

When Kunaszyk was their age, he watched Cal, USC, UCLA, Stanford and "a little bit" of Fresno State -- basically, any football he could get his eyes on.

"Any time. Even now, I'll go on NFL network and watch games from last year, and previous years, just because that's what I enjoy doing," Kunaszyk said. "I'd rather watch that than anything else on TV ... I watch as much football and as much film as possible."

During his official visit, he got to do some film watching with defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, and with his future teammates.

"They were breaking down film on themselves. They weren't breaking down opponent film. It was kind of a learning session for them," he said. "Coach Kaufman was correcting them, and their mistakes. It's pretty similar to where I came from. My junior college, our coaches do a great job of running as close to a Division I program as possible on a junior college budget. I had a great coaching staff at my junior college, and I think I can come in, and it's not going to be a big shock. For a lot of kids coming from a junior college, it's totally new. I feel like, for me, it's going to be new. It's going to be more intense, it's going to be more difficult, but I'm going to have an easier transition from a junior college, a well-respected junior college." 


"The good thing, at Cal, with the 4-2-5, is that it's what I ran at my junior college," he said. "It definitely is a scheme I see myself succeeding in, and I love the scheme."

The Bears plan to use Kunaszyk as the MIKE, but he has the length, speed and athleticism to play at any of the three spots in a traditional 4-3, which the Bears ran straight-up in 2014, and as the base in 2015, preferring to utilize more nickel and dime looks.

"I think I'm a versatile linebacker. I think I can play outside," Kunaszyk said. "I've always played inside linebacker through high school and at junior college, and it's where I'm comfortable at. I think that a lot of people can play outside, but they can't play inside well, or they can play inside well, but they can't necessarily play outside well. I think I'm versatile enough to be just as good at any one of those positions. For the most part, I got recruited by almost every school to play middle linebacker.

"Coach Kaufman was saying that there are some packages where they have two MIKEs, so I think I'm just going to be playing MIKE for the most part. Maybe something will change when I get there, but how they've evaluated me, and what they see out of me, I think they see a MIKE backer."

••••• Linebacker is where Kunaszyk has played ever since he first started Mighty Mites. It's all he knows, and it's what he loves.

While Kunaszyk doesn't idolize any NFL player in particular, he feels a kinship with one Super Bowl linebacker, in particular.

"I don't model my game after anybody, specifically, but Luke Kuechly, he's my favorite linebacker right now," Kunaszyk said. Maybe it's the less-than-phoenetic K surname. "I love the way he wears No. 59, and I think that's motivated me a little bit to wear that number with passion, and with respect. I don't really necessarily model my game after anybody, but that's my favorite player in the NFL."

Like Kuechly, Kunaszyk is all over the field, recording 118 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss last season for American River College. 

"My first year of football, I played running back and linebacker, and I've been playing football since I was six. I started in Mighty Mites," Kunaszyk said. "I played running back and linebacker growing up, and when I got to high school, I just played on the defensive side of the ball. I played linebacker all four years. My senior year, I played a little bit of tight end, but I love defense. That's my fit, and that's what I'm passionate about."

He's also passionate about his new school.

"I'm at a loss for words, to say what it means to me," Kunaszyk said of his commitment. "I'm so grateful, and I can't wait to do what I do best."

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