San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty defensive end Nick Alftin has been on the California campus at least once a month over the last year, not as a recruit, but as a dutiful little brother. Alftin, finishing his junior year at Mitty, has been a constant presence at Haas Pavilion, watching his older sister, Bears junior outside hitter Christine Alftin hammer home points on the volleyball court.
This weekend, Alftin -- who plays a bit of volleyball himself -- paid a visit to Berkeley for a completely different reason: Football. He watched Cal's Friday spring ball practice, heading over after school.
"It was really fun. I met the coaching staff, which was obviously great. [There's] so much experience behind them all," the younger Alftin said. "I loved the facilities, just going around. My sister actually plays volleyball at Cal, which is a big thing for me. My sister really, over the last year, I got to go to all of her games, and I've been on campus every month to go watch her and visit her. I'm in love with Cal, so meeting the coaching staff that, hopefully, one day, I can play for, it was really fun."
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound jumbo athlete earned WCAL first-team honors last season, as Mitty's defensive MVP. He racked up 50 tackles in 12 games, with 19.0 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries and 7.5 sacks. He added 4 passes defended, and one blocked punt.
""That doesn't tell the full story," Alftin said of his numbers. "Every game, they were running the ball away from me, and they changed their offenses. My impact on the field is, they stopped running the ball to that side. My quarterback hurries led to a lot of sacks for my teammates, which I was very happy about, because it made a big difference. Getting pressure on the quarterback was a big deal last year."
"They've seen my tape, loved my tape, and I'm going to go out to a few more spring practices, and obviously, talk to them more," Alftin said. "I was invited to their junior day, so I can meet the players they're recruiting, and see more what Cal's about, and also, they want me to come to one day of their camp -- just one day -- and they want to see what I can do. I can't wait to show them what I can do."
During his day on campus last week, Alftin talked with head coach Justin Wilcox, strength coach Torre Becton, defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, recruiting coordinator Marques Tuiasosopo, offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin and outside linebackers coach Tony Tuioti. In other words, just about the entire staff.
"A big thing for me, right now, is I say I'm 6-5 on Hudl, and 240 pounds, and a lot of kids these days lie about it, so when I got there, the big thing for me was that they wanted to see how big I was, and that I wasn't lying," Alftin said.
Alftin is, most certainly, a true 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, every inch and every pound, and he's an incredibly explosive athlete, to boot.
"Going out to this one practice was a big deal for me," Alftin said. "When I was talking to coach Azzinaro, coach Azz said that he'd love to put me on the D-line and just get right in there. I can rush the passer, pretty much do everything. That's why they want me to come to one day of their camp, so they can really see what I can do, and how athletic I am. They also know I play volleyball, so that's my real cross-training sport. I think there's a lot I can do on the football field, at a lot of other positions. You can put me at outside linebacker, I can play special teams, I can play D-tackle, I can play defensive end -- I can do a lot on the field, and I think that's a very valuable thing I can bring to their team."
Last year, Alftin wanted to go to Cal's camps, but instead decided to focus more on his high school team. This year, he said, he wants to "hang a banner in my gym, and I want to start a culture at my school."
Alftin transferred to Mitty from Woodside (Calif.) after his freshman year, during which he posted a 3.5 GPA.
"Academics got a lot harder for me, and I was dealing with a lot of family problems at the time, so my first semester at Archbishop Mitty, my sophomore year, I had a 2.0," Alftin said. "Second semester, I had a 2.6. This first semester of junior year, I have a 3.0, and the second semester, I'm supposed to get a 3.2, 3.3. So, the trend is only going up, and I have tutoring sessions on the weekend, and I have in-school tutoring now. It's only going up from here. I know how important academics are to me, and I want my future to depend on Cal academics. I understand how important that is, so I'm really trying to get that up, so the coaching staff can see."
"Since my sister goes to Cal, it's a big deal to have that camaraderie with my sister, both going to the same school, but I want to leave it open, because I'm interested in the recruiting process, and seeing what it's like," Alftin said.