Spring football may be over, and his first college snaps more than a year away, but, after a visit to California on Saturday, quarterback Chase Garbers was literally able to see what it's like to play for the Golden Bears, or, at the very least, to practice with them, thanks to a pair of very special Bear Goggles, courtesy of offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.
"It went really well, definitely a good visit, talked with coach Spav, coach Dykes, definitely was, overall, very good. I got to put on the virtual reality goggles, and those were pretty cool," he said. "You're in a room, and you pull up, coach Spav pulls up plays from practice, and you put on the goggles, and it literally felt like we were on the field, taking a snap. It was crazy. You look around, and everybody's moving, you see all the plays going, you see all the parts go into play. It was definitely a cool experience."
There was even one play that prompted Garbers -- a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Newport Beach (Calif.) Corona Del Mar -- to literally take a step back.
"I was shocked. I had my mind blown by that one," he said. "On one play, a lineman got thrown down right in front of the quarterback's feet, and I was like, 'Oh!' It felt like it almost hit me. You would turn around and you would see the stands behind you. It was awesome."
And here, you thought Madden was realistic.
Things got even more real throughout the course of the day for Garbers, who flew up at 8 a.m. with his father and finally left the Bay Area at 7 p.m. The two got to know the rest of the staff, and sit down with Spavital and talk some shop.
"We talked some ball, they showed me around campus, can't complain. It was a great day," Garbers said. "I could definitely see myself going to Cal, playing there. The atmosphere was great. Coach Spav, he really knows what he's doing. He's a young guy, which, going into college, you can easily relate to him, and coach Dykes. He's a family man, and I met his wife and two kids. They're a phenomenal family, so it was a great atmosphere."
Garbers's father majored in business at Georgia, so naturally, that's where Garbers's attention focused when he made his trip to Berkeley -- right across the street, on the Haas School of Business.
"I want to major in business, and they have one of the best business schools in the nation, I think in the world. The brand sells itself. Cal, always great academics. Nothing can go wrong, there," said Garbers, who has a 3.4 GPA. "My dad liked it. He definitely likes the whole academic part, because he majored in business when he went to school. He knows the Haas School of Business, and knows its reputation. It's Pac-12 football, so they know what they're doing with quarterbacks -- Jared Goff, obviously -- and coach Dykes has a great plan for how he believes they can be contending for a national championship."
"They mentioned that it was the fifth-largest deal in college sports history," Garbers said. "They're really psyched about Under Armour, because what Under Armour's doing with the jerseys is pretty cool. Definitely a lot more variation, which is awesome."
Garbers participated in the Passing Down Best of the West on Sunday, but his Gridiron Game Changers fell before reaching the finals, instead settling for a top-six finish.