Grenada (Miss.) safety C.J. Avery had never been out to the state of California before, but after a weekend with Jordan Duncan, Jacob Peeler and the rest of Cal's official visitors, he came away flabbergasted.
"It was awesome, and it really opened my eyes," said Avery, who has a 3.5 GPA. "Just getting there and meeting the coaching staff, really impressed me, as did seeing the effect that California-Berkeley has on an athlete after football."
Re-connecting with Duncan -- a Hattiesburg, Miss., native who Avery has known for a little over a year -- was a high point.
"We talked about how he got comfortable at Cal, what made him choose Cal, things like that," Avery said. "We were good friends before he went to Cal. It wasn't a tight relationship, but we knew each other well, because we were the top players in Mississippi, he was a senior and I was a junior, things like that."
Of course, the highlight of the weekend was watching Duncan and the Bears upset No. 11 Texas, after which the recruits flooded the field, along with the student section. But, unlike the student section, he got to see inside the post-game locker room.
"Oh, man, the game was crazy," Avery said. "The atmosphere, it was awesome. The stadium was really loud, the fans were into the game, the whole game, and it was just a good game all around ... [The locker room] was awesome, man. Those guys were excited, and they should be excited, because they played a really good game."
Watching the Cal defensive backfield was of particular interest, for Avery.
"I saw some athletic people," Avery said. "There are some athletic corners, and some athletic safeties. The safeties, there was a guy that was pretty tall and rangy (Evan Rambo) and that's the kind of player I am -- I can get around the field."
Thanks to a bye week, Avery and teammate Javaris Russell got to fly out to Berkeley on Friday night, and meet with their respective position coaches on Saturday morning at the team hotel before the game.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1707796-cal-upsets-no-11-t... "Me and [Greg Burns] got to sit down and talk really well, for a long time," Avery said. "He told me, 'When you come here, I want you to be accountable,' because safety is one of the most vital positions on the defense. They've got to make checks every play.
"Coach Peeler is the one who's been recruiting me really hard, but coach [Art] Kaufman is the one who comes down to Grenada, and the one who gets me more on the phone ... It was great being there with Javaris. We both wanted to go down there and see what Cal has to offer. Since he decommitted [from Ole Miss], he's open to everybody."
Coming from SEC country, Avery said nothing about Cal surprised him, in part because he was prepared by the likes of Duncan and Peeler.
"It's great, man, and that's the kind of thing that I told the coaching staff -- with a lot of Mississippi kids, it makes me feel much better, if I came there," Avery said. "It made me feel good ... I wouldn't say anything surprised me, but a lot of things impressed me, though," Avery said. "How they treat people with Life After Football, the support that they give, that really meant a lot."
"They showed a lot of love and did a lot of things to make me feel welcome in California," Avery said.