Shortly after returning from his official visit to California on Oct. 31, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne offensive tackle Alex Akingbulu's phone went on the fritz. He had left one major cliffhanger out there for the recruiting world:
So, what makes his decision now so much more difficult? He made a point of getting in touch with BearTerritory to talk about just that.
"I saw how great of a balance Cal has as a school, and the academics are the best, truly, the best public school in the country," Akingbulu said. "How great the academics are, but also to have a great football team, too, great coaching and to have those two aspects in one school really surprised me."
Cal was his first official visit, and this weekend, after he finishes playing in a second-round playoff game on Friday, he'll take his second, to Utah. Only one will be left -- to UCLA, on January 22 -- but that may not happen (he may instead take an earlier, unofficial visit). While he'll have to fold his 6-foot-6 frame into a plane for a night flight to Salt Lake City, right after a game, his visit to Berkeley got off on the right foot, as it were: He got an exit row. A good start, and it only got better.
"I was very happy with the extra leg room," he laughs, and, "the Bay Area in general, how beautiful it is over there, you have so many things you can do -- you cross the street, and there's San Francisco."
"There were so many historical buildings and monuments, the dinosaur bones, and then, we came back, watched the game, great atmosphere," Akingbulu said. "The fans were great. After the game, we went to dinner with all the coaches, and talked. After that, we spent time with our hosts, and the team. We had a good time. In the morning, we got to sit in with the meetings with the positions and the whole team, and I got to sit down with all the coaches, including coach [Brandon] Jones, the offensive line coach. He was scouting film for the Oregon game, so I just had a blast.
"I saw how they lined up, the splits, especially the tackles, the two-point stance, I talked to coach [Brandon Jones] about kick-slides, the splits -- everything that fits me, they pretty much do," Akingbulu continued. "It made me think that I can't wait for college, just how great of a coach he is, and how we can see plays, how he could pick apart plays, and I could pick his brain, and I can use it in my play, right now, in watching film, and just seeing the defense through a great coach."
Education, though, was the primary focus. His parents first moved to the U.S. -- Michigan, specifically, where his aunt lived -- before he was born, and then came out to California because, he laughs, "Mom didn't love the weather, so she picked Cali."
Akingbulu, born in the United States to Nigerian parents, who immigrated 20 years ago, says his parents "loved" the educational dimension that Cal brings to the table, but they will support him no matter which school he chooses.
"They loved it, they reall did," Akingbulu said. "They saw how excited I was about the school. They support whatever school I go to, especially knowing that each one of these schools, you can check off education on each one of them. They have no complaints."
Akingbulu said that he will likely make his college decision before Signing Day.
"If anything, if I want to wait to January for the UCLA one, I could wait for that, but it could possibly be earlier than that," he said.