Gerard Martinez

Cal four-star wide receiver recruit Nikko Remigio had the Bears on his mind long before they offered

A year ago, during a family reunion, four-star wide receiver Nikko Remigio cast a thought out into the universe, and on Friday, that thought became reality.

Almost exactly a year ago, four-star wide receiver Nikko Remigio and his father, Markus, sat in a pair of pop-up chairs beside a large pond behind his great aunt's house in Napa. It's a family house, Remigio said, one that's visited often by his father's side of the family. 

Fishing is one of Remigio's favorite pastimes, along with surfing. His father's apartment is on the beach in Southern California, right near a pier, off of which they and Remigio's two younger brothers, Nino, 14, and Kai, 12, fish.

That summer day, Remigio and his father each sat, holding a fishing pole in their hands, hoping for a bite. They sat like that for four hours.

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"We could have stayed out there longer, if we didn't smell food inside and get hungry," Remigio said.

The pair didn't catch a thing that day, but Remigio did cast a thought out into the universe.

"I'd gone up there for a family reunion, and me and my dad were out there, talking about Cal," Remigio said. "He was like, 'Could you see yourself going here? Do you see yourself coming out here and visiting over the weekends?' I said, 'I couldn't see myself anywhere else.' It was pretty clear to me that Cal was going to be the place that I wanted to go to school."

That was right as Remigio's recruitment had begun to take off. He's since earned offers from the Pac-12 and the SEC, the Big 12 and the Big 10. On days when the former California staff visited to watch his games, he made sure to wear blue and gold gloves as he hauled in passes. He wore a Berkeley sweatshirt around the halls at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.

After the early session of the Golden Bears' camp last Saturday, Remigio and his mother, Jennifer, went to the top of California Memorial Stadium with new head coach Justin Wilcox.

"Looking over the Bay, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz, and Silicon Valley, San Francisco, we were just looking at all of that," Remigio said. "Then, it's kind of funny, but this is how I knew coach Wilcox was really humble: The field was getting constructed, and we were at the top, and one of the security guards came up to us and said, 'You guys need to get down.' At that moment, me and my mom looked at Wilcox, and we're like, 'He's about to go off on this guy. He's the head coach, and this guy is trying to tell the head coach to get out of his own stadium. Coach Wilcox looked at him and said, 'Alright, that's fine,' and just walked down the stairs. That's something that really stood out to me about coach Wilcox, as a coach and as a man." When the trio reached the plaza level, Wilcox took Remigio into the North Tunnel -- the same tunnel Remigio would be running out of as a Golden Bear player -- and offered him a scholarship. He nearly committed on the spot.

"Honestly, it took a lot out of me to hold back committing, right on the spot," Remigio said. "Cal has been a school that I've wanted to get an offer from, ever since freshman year. It was a school that I could see myself going to, simply because the whole vibe of the school is something that I really admire. It was something that I've wanted to be a part of for quite a long time."

Still, Remigio held back. He waited almost an entire week. He talked to friends, coaches and family. He had a special graphic made up by Bus The Art Guy, who made commitment graphics for other recruits, including Brian Hightower. The jersey depicted is not what the Bears' new duds will look like, but rather, an extrapolation, based on what's been said by Wilcox and others.

"It's very easy to make an impulsive reaction, and just commit, based on [the fact that] you might be high off the visit. It's something that bothers me, is when recruits commit and decommit. That's something that goes against the man I've been coached to be. If you commit, you commit. I wanted to be sure that Cal was the place that I wanted to go, even though I was given every reason to believe that Cal was the school for me. I wanted to run it through my closest friends and family, my coach, coaches that had helped me in the past, and after running it through them, it was really hard to see any flaws in making the decision. I felt, 'Why wait?'"

There will be no more visits to any other schools, save for several in-season visits for Cal home games.

"It's shut down," Remigio said. "My word is my bond ... It's awesome to see my dream coming true."


For the contemplative Remigio, choosing Berkeley was about more than football. It goes beyond coaching, who's in charge of the program, or what the players are wearing. During his camp trip this weekend, he was challenged, both physically and psychologically, by the staff, and instead of being taken aback, Remigio reveled in it.

"My experience at Cal was, I was challenged, and that's what you get at Berkeley," Remigio said. "Berkeley's a prestigious school. It's a top-notch school. It was something that I really wanted to be a part of, after that. I was like, 'I know this is the place for me.'"

It was during a sit-down with wide receivers coach Nick Edwards that Remigio went from "I think I know" to "I know I know." "It's kind of funny, because a lot of recruits would get turned off by this, but coach Edwards, when I had my meeting with him, he made sure to really pick at my brain," Remigio said. "He made sure to really test me and test my knowledge about my understanding of football, and simply just knowing about myself, why I do the things I do, who I do them for. That was the only time I've really been tested like that by a coach, because a lot of times, coaches will just ride with the flow and cater to the recruit."

How did Edwards challenge Remigio? He asked tough questions, questions that seem simple on the surface, but cut to the very core of who Remigio is.

"It's simple questions that you don't always think about, as a football player: 'Why do you play football? Who do you play football for? What is it about Berkeley? Why do you think we should offer you?'" Remigio said. "A general response for those questions is just, 'Well, I want to go to the NFL. It's a school that I really like.' But, to get tested like that, to dig deep, I feel like I finally did get a true understanding of why I wanted to go to Berkeley, and it was in that moment.

"My answer for why I played football was simply, I have a passion for the game. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't have a passion for the game. Football, for me, is a gateway to education. Not everybody gets this opportunity. Not everybody gets blessed with the talent to be able to take them to receive an education, and that's really my goal. The NFL and all that other stuff is just icing on the cake, for me, if that stuff happens. Where I'm taking my talents is for education, and I think, to be able to use my talents for education is a true blessing. Why Berkeley? It's the overall environment of the school, being top-notch, being a school that's highly regarded across the nation, and I'm glad to be a part of one of the best programs out there."

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