Courtesy / Nick Alftin

Cal commit Nick Alftin goes in-depth about his decision, early-morning workouts and his 2018 classmates

Cal commit Nick Alftin talks early-morning workouts, his Cal wardrobe, Spongebob and "Goon," as we go beyond the commitment.

When the first commit of the Justin Wilcox era at California -- J.H. Tevis -- said that Nick Alftin would commit less than a week after he pulled the trigger, he had some pretty solid data on which to base that estimate: When he first met Alftin on March 17 -- when the two both unofficially visited spring practice -- Alftin was already decked out in a Cal jacket. 

Little did he know that Alftin had a whole closet full of Bears gear. "I've been repping Cal gear ever since eighth grade. Everyone knows I love Cal," Alftin said on Thursday night. "I've got Cal shorts, Cal shirts, Cal sweatshirts, Cal hats -- I've got four Cal hats -- I'm a Cal guy."

So, why did it take five days from offer to commitment for the 6-foot-5, 240-pound San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty defensive end?

"I mostly had to get my family on board. It wasn't really me, to be honest. It was mostly my family, just getting them on board," Alftin said. "They obviously wanted me to see other colleges -- which I'm going to, before National Signing Day -- just to see what other colleges are like, and make sure I'm seeing what else there is, but I love Cal, and Cal's my No. 1 option."

Alftin had been to the Cal campus, he guesses, over 50 times, "but honestly, I can't count how many."

"I've been around Cal a lot," he said. "I love the campus. My sister's taken me out to get food, I've seen her dorms as a freshman, I loved it."

Thanks to his sister Christine -- an outside hitter on the Cal volleyball team -- he's got the whole campus wired for when he arrives in the fall. A week ago, though, was his first -- and so far, only -- time visiting as a recruit.

"It feels good to be wanted by a school you love," said Alftin, who admitted to having a big, dumb grin on his face for the entire visit. "I was getting recruited by Mark Tommerdahl from the last coaching staff, and this new coaching staff, I knew I had to get in contact with, but I knew they had a lot of stuff going on, as a new coaching staff, and with all the new recruits they had to deal with. They had to put them on their board, so me and my mom talked, and figured it'd be hard to get in touch with them, so we figured I'd just call them and tell them I'd be up for spring practice, and just show up, and see what happens. I show up, and of course, all eyes are on me." For good reason. With Alftin's size, he looks like he should be in pads, not in shorts on the sideline, where he stood with his mother, and two sisters -- Christine and Marie. He only wore his Cal jacket -- "I didn't want to overdo it," he laughed -- and not the rest of his blue and gold attire.

"They saw that [I was big enough], and that's when they met my family, who they loved and who they were really kind to," Alftin said. "It was a great time, there, and I stayed for all three hours of practice, and stayed after to take a few pictures with my sister's friends. When they saw me with my sister and my mom, things changed from there."

Over the next 11 days, he got to know recruiting coordinator Marques Tuiasosopo, outside linebackers coach Tony Tuioti and Wilcox.

"They're all really, really nice, and it just feels really nice to be wanted by a school you love," said Alftin, who appreciates the simpler things in life, citing "Spongebob Squarepants," as his favorite television show ("I can turn that on, get a little laugh out of it," he said), and the Canadian hockey comedy "Goon," as his favorite film. "You've got to watch it; it's about a badass hockey player, and he doesn't really know how to skate, but he uses his fists a lot," Alftin said.

After the getting-to-know-you period, Alftin was ready. When he told Christine on Tuesday, over the phone, that he was committing, she cried.

He also talked to the current commits, and got invited into the group chat by Tevis.

"They got me in their group chat, and they were all very nice to me," he said. "I asked about Junior Day, who was going, and they're all really nice guys."

"I knew Cal was the place for me," Alftin said. "I can go see my sister and see what Cal has to offer. This next year, I plan on going up every few weeks, and just seeing Cal for what it is. I love Cal."

A day after telling the Cal coaches he wanted to jump in the boat, Alftin made his commitment public. He had some homework to do in the interim.

"I watched Omari Harris, Adrian Martinez and [Tevis's] highlight reel before I committed, just to see who I'm committing with, and setting myself up for, so I did a little research. They all play tough-ass football, which I love," Alftin said. "I wanted to get all my stuff together, tell my coach. I had to tell my teammates, first, because they're my family, and they're the ones who really pushed me through everything last season, and helped me make plays. They're a big part of it."

Twice a week, Alftin wakes up early and heads over to Mitty, during a B-week, when classes start later. He runs routes with the Monarchs' sophomore and junior quarterbacks before school, as he prepares to play tight end for the first time this fall. In his off period, he goes in to talk football with his coach, or goes out and runs routes again.

He and his team also lift for an hour and a half, each day. 

"We're a family, and we're building a stronger, bigger team," Alftin said. "Those guys, I'm going to be brothers with, the rest of my life." There are days when he works out three times with his football family, and when he's not on the gridiron, he's vaulting into the air for the Monarchs' volleyball team. He spoke with BearTerritory after a 3-0 win over San Francisco (Calif.) St. Ignatius. 

Alftin plays club volleyball for the Mountain View Volleyball Club in the summer and fall, in regional qualifying tournaments, then breaks for the spring scholastic volleyball season, and resumes the quest for a national gold medal in the summer.

"A lot of it is that my coach has trust in me, and I have trust in him," Alftin said of his head coach, Keith Burns. "He has a reputation to fill, and he can't go up to coaches telling them lies. When he tells coaches that I'm out there working at 6:30, or spending the one period off that I have throwing with my quarterback, he sees the hard work that I put in, and the drive that I put in to make it to the next level. He sees how hard I work, and he really explains to them what my work ethic is like, and I really appreciate that. He's one of the best guys."

Alftin has never been one to shy away from a challenge. He left Redwood City (Calif.) Woodside after his freshman year, and sought a greater academic and athletic challenge at Mitty.

"My sister, all my family members went through Woodside High School," Alftin said. "My sister who's at Cal right now, really wanted to go to Mitty going into her freshman year, and she'd only heard good things. I really wanted to push myself, academically, to be honest."

Christine wound up at Mitty rival St. Francis to start her high school career, but then transferred to Woodside, before heading to Berkeley.

"I loved it at Woodside -- it was great -- I just wanted to really push myself academically," Alftin said. "I wanted to put myself in an environment that's really competitive."

After spending his freshman year as a quarterback, once he transferred, Alftin was flipped to the other side of the ball. It didn't take him long to learn to love it, during a preseason scrimmage against Palo Alto (Calif.).

"It was our scrimmage, sophomore year," he said. "I got off a block from the offensive tackle, and got past the running back to make the sack. It was a great feeling."

As a junior, Alftin made 50 tackles, racking up 19.0 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries, 7.5 sacks, four passes defended, and one blocked punt, as the Monarchs went 7-6, improving from a 6-5 record the year before.

"It's the B weeks, waking up at six in the morning, driving to school an hour and a half before anyone gets there, stepping out on the field with nine receivers, two quarterbacks throwing, there's even defensive line and O-line out there working," Alftin said. "We can't be in pads, so we're working on the goal posts. Pure dedication being showed by the players at Mitty, and our coach loves it. He supports every minute of it.

"My D-line coach at my high school is the coolest guy," Alftin said of Mitt's D-line coach, Steve Monsof. "He's the greatest."

As he's working to hone his hands at tight end, Alftin works on his defensive line skills on the weekends, with his personal coach Arpedge Rolle, of Five-Star Linemen.

Like his future teammates, Alftin plays "tough-ass football," and with "Goon," Monsof and Rolle as his guides, he's only going to get tougher by the time he puts on a Cal uniform, and truly becomes a part of another family -- the Cal family. Top Stories