We go in-depth with new Cal commit Michael Saffell, who calls Berkeley atmosphere electrifying

Cal's daring approach to recruiting visits paid off twice this weekend, with Michael Saffell committing on the heels of Jordan Genmark-Heath. Saffell went in-depth about his relationship with Chase Garbers, who he's going after on the recruiting trail, and what blew his family away about the Golden Bears.

No one knows where the shock of orange-red hair comes from. They say it was from his grandmother. His parents joke that he's adopted. In generations past, it would have been blamed on the milk man. But, red hair or no, on Wednesday, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison center Michael Saffell was all blue and gold.

"I would have asked that too; I have no idea. I'm the only one," Saffell laughed, as he got out of practice. "They say it was from my grandma, but they've never shown me a pic, so I couldn't tell ya. Of my family, I'm the only one."

http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1714199-three-sta... Saffell's decision was, as he puts it, a family one, even if the origins of his Titian tresses are hard to trace. Before he walked into Edison head coach Dave White's office this morning, there was a Saffell family pow wow.

"I walked into coach White's office, and I had a little talk with him, that I was going to do it, and we had talked earlier in the week, and then I talked to my dad, throughout the week, and my whole family last night, to make sure everyone was locked in, and we all knew what we were doing," Saffell said. "It's been, for sure, a family decision. I walked into coach White's office, we had a little talk about it, went in to a room, shut the door and made the call. It was amazing. It was the best feeling ever ... Oh, my God, when I got off that phone call, my friends were outside, and I was getting hyped up."

Neither California offensive line coach Brandon Jones nor head coach Sonny Dykes were too surprised. Seeing him bask in the pre-game sunshine in front of the North Tunnell at Memorial Stadium this weekend, there was little doubt as to where he'd be committing. He said before the Bears beat No. 18 Utah that afternoon that the visit was already blowing he and his mother away. It got better from there.

"I would say the main reason why I felt so confident about pulling the trigger is that coach Jones called me in his office [after the game], sat me down and gave me his vision of what he sees me in the program as, and it's everything that I wanted to hear, everything I want to be in a football program," Saffell said. "That's what he told me he wants me to be. Getting that off my back, putting down that commitment and saying, 'That's my future, that's what I want to be, that's where I want to be,' was just amazing. Once he laid out the plan for me, I knew for sure that it was the right place.

"I think after the visit, I made it clear that it was coming to an end. We were both on the same page that the commitment was coming soon. I kind of told you before that, that I was thinking I was going to do it ... I think, for me, personally, the excitement in the crowd, that was one of the biggest things that I was definitely looking for. The excitement on game day, what the student body was like on game day, it's electrifying over there. It's a great academic school, definitely blew Mom away with that."

Future Ambitions

Saffell's longterm ambition is to go into medical school, and he intends to declare as a biology major, but after his day on campus -- which included a sit-down talk with Jones after the game -- he found out that there are other ways to get that white coat.

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1428749-the-doctor-is-in One of those ways was taken by another former carrot top center -- Chris Adcock -- who parlayed degrees in business administration (from the Haas School of Business) and interdisciplinary studies into a successful application to medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where he's currently studying. Saffell noticed that business route during the course of his research.

Saffell -- who, like Adcock, is a crack student, with a 4.3 GPA -- hasn't spoken with Adcock, but the Haas approach is one that caught his ear.

"I was talking to my dad a little bit, and the school of business, how well-respected it is, and you get the opportunity to go to school at Cal, which has that opportunity with that super-high-ranked school, to be a part of that community, that network, that would also be an option," Saffell said. "That's another thing I've got to look at, but right now, in my head, I'll be declaring for biology."


Cal has taken a daring approach to recruit visits this year. The first two home games have been against ranked teams, teams that have beaten traditional powerhouses in Notre Dame and USC, but the Bears' staff has showed no fear in inviting some of their most prized recruits -- including Saffell's friend, Casey Roddick, who, he said, he'll be recruiting hard -- to arguably their most challenging home games. That gutsy approach has paid off, opening the eyes of SEC-country targets like C.J. Avery and Auburn commit Malcolm Askew, and others.

That confidence tickled Saffell.

"You know, that was exciting," Saffell said. "That was very exciting, to be a part of that game, with a ranked opponent and then knocking them off. They're very confident, over there, and I was definitely very pleased to see how confident they were, that they can compete with anyone, and they're not afraid to go after anyone, especially a team like Utah, that's kind of been on a roll. They're on the upswing too, and [Cal] is not afraid to go after them, and knock them off. They have the ability, and they have the athletes to do that, and they kind of have that swagger to get after people. They're blue-collar, and they get after people, and they don't care who it is."

On The Recruiting Trail

Saffle was joined by both his father and mother on Saturday, after having visited this spring with just his father. Of the 10 recruits who visited that weekend in April, now Saffell, Taariq JohnsonGabe CherryJe'Quari Godfrey and Tyriq Hardimon have all committed. Not a bad batting average. One of the recruits that weekend was 2017 quarterback Nick Sipe, who wound up committing to Purdue, as the Bears got their man in Chase Garbers. It just so happens that Saffell and Garbers, like Saffell and Roddick, have connected in recent months.

"The first person I called after I committed was Chase Garbers," Saffell said. "We had a cool conversation. I know we've been going back and forth, and talking about being roommates, and stuff like that."

In his junior year Jared Goff made a similar choice -- to room with his right tackle Steven Moore.

"He was one of the first people I called after I did it," Saffell said of Garbers. "I'm definitely excited to get to know all the recruits. I know there are a couple guys that coach Jones wants me to go after, that I have a pretty good relationship with, so I'm pretty excited about that."

After getting close with Garbers's offensive line during summer Saturday linemen camps held by former 49er Jesse Sapolu -- the Corona Del Mar offensive line coach coaches at Sapolu's camp, and naturally brought his linemen -- Saffell said there's no one else he'd rather protect.

While Garbers was the one leveraging his relationship with Saffell, it will be Saffell now trying to leverage his relationship with several top recruits, including Roddick.

"The one guy that I've told [Garbers] that I have a good relationship with, and I'll be recruiting pretty hard is Casey Roddick," Saffell said. "Roddick, Aaron Banks, we didn't talk about all the names, but we're going to call tomorrow, and get some names down, and get a plan together.

"Casey and I met through the Nike Opening and other camps, and we hooked up through Twitter, and we've been talking through Twitter during the season and stuff like that. From those camps, we became friends."

Cal Connections

While Saffell hasn't yet conversed with Adcock, he's more than familiar with a Bears center of more recent vintage, Dominic Granado. After the visit was over on Saturday, Granado's mother invited the Saffells to a post-game tailgate.

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1681815-countdown-to-kicko... "We got to go hang out with the players, and tailgate with the parents, and the band comes through and everything like that and all the players hang out," Saffell said. "That was awesome. That was a cool experience, just to be with them, hanging out and being with all the offensive line guys. They're all super cool, nice dudes that are my type of dudes, that I like to hang out with. After that, me and my parents went out to dinner, and we were talking about how blown away we were."

Granado's father coaches the Chargers' defensive line, while he takes time off from being a Pac-12 official, and since Granado is, himself, an Edison alum, it's made for a natural connection.

"It definitely played a lot into the recruitment," Saffell said. "I think me and coach Jones always talk about, the best thing I got from Dom, he told me exactly how coach Jones treats him. He kind of laid it out, exactly how I'm going to be treated, exactly how it's going to go, with an honest opinion. It's an honest opinion from him, and I really appreciate that. I think that was definitely a big factor in the commitment."

Talking Shop

Granado and Saffell have also talked about what's involved in playing center in Jake Spavital's offense, which isn't all too different from the one that Saffell runs in high school.

"Me and coach Jones have talked about that, and we also talked about the guys that they're trying to recruit, trying to establish a physical run game," Saffell said. "They're trying to establish a physical, nasty offensive line, and that's another thing I definitely want to be part of: Be on an offensive line that they're centering the offense around, and having it be a controlling force on the field."

Cal only ran the ball 14 times on Saturday, and haven't yet established the run with consistency this year, but Saffell is quick to note that while many of his film highlights are on run plays, his best attribute is his pass blocking, and he does play in a spread system.

"Working with Jesse and working on my technique over the years, I'd say I'm probably a better pass blocker, when it comes down to it, so to see how much they throw the rock around, I can definitely see myself being in there," Saffell said. "Also, how coach Jones is talking about establishing a more physical run game, I think I can also bring that. Hearing both those things, and picturing myself in that offense, I definitely could. That also played a big role."


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