Francisco Perez isn't used to being pushed around. At 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, not many people can. But, when he and the rest of the California official visitors stormed the court following the Golden Bears' 74-73 win on Saturday, he found himself getting moved like no defensive lineman could do this season.
"It was loud, and after the game, when we stormed the court, I was getting pushed around by a bunch of small people," Perez laughed.
He'd never been pushed around like that in his life.
"Not by small people," he laughed again. "They were everywhere. I was like, 'Wah? What? Huh?' I thought it was one of the other recruits, but no, they were everywhere."
That was really, though, the only time that Perez was pushed through the weekend. His official host, Chris Borrayo, one of the most respected players on the team, one of the most veteran linemen and the man who literally carries the banner for the Bears every Saturday, sat him down for a frank chat at the start of the weekend. Like Perez, Borrayo is an Hispanic young man from Southern California. Family is important to him, too.
Borrayo knew that a visit to UCLA last weekend played very big with the man they call Paco, and he knew the kind of decision that Perez is faced with.
"When I met him, he said, 'Hey, bro, I'm going to be completely honest with you: I know it's between us and UCLA, but at the end of the day, it's your decision. You have to make yourself happy, and your family happy,'" Perez said. "He was like, 'If everyone's pissed off about it, remember: It was your decision. It was the best decision. Just sleep on it, and think about it. You've got to be happy with it.' I thought that was really cool."
That decision will come down to the Bears and the Bruins, and though Perez remains committed, it's going to be a battle more for himself than the coaching staffs.
"The weekend was enjoyable, and it was good to hang out with all the other people on the visit -- with Daniel [Juarez], with Jake [Curhan], with Nate Herbig -- and I got home, and it's going to come down to those two," Perez said. "I'll be making my decision on Signing Day, or earlier."
Having Curhan already enrolled, and going to class, certainly helped with Perez's view of what school life is like.
"He said that the transition from high school to college isn't that bad," Perez said. "He said his classes are pretty easy. He has an assignment due on Monday, so he's happy to get it done. He says that he needs to watch what he eats, because he doesn't want to be affected when he starts running and conditioning."
Speaking of food, Perez and Herbig's little College Football Playoff National Championship bet didn't come back to bite Perez in the wallet, as Herbig forgot about their little wager.
"I didn't bring it up," Perez laughed, "I was waiting for him to bring it up. I forgot about it until I was on the plane, and I thought, 'Aw, I forgot to get Nate his food!' I'll hit him up in a bit. He'll probably be mad."
Perez did, however, give his stamp of approval to La Burrita ("It's good, it's cool.").
Perez and Juarez have grown very close during the camps and combines they've attended, starting with The Opening Regional, and through the recruiting process, and grew closer during the visit. It was Juarez who, upon finding out that Perez had a Cal offer all those months ago, worked on him to commit, and join him in Berkeley.
"It was great hanging out with Daniel," Perez said. "We've gotten so close. I'll be honest with him, and he'll be honest with me, no matter what. It was great being with him for the weekend, and with the other recruits, as well, such as Gentle [Williams], and Herbig ... We send each other stupid things on twitter, and text. It's pretty cool."
During the visit, Francisco also sat down and spoke at length with offensive line coach Brandon Jones.
"Me and coach Jones talked a lot throughout the whole visit, and he was glad that I came up and saw the school before I made any decisions," Francisco said. "He said that he knows that I could make a really big impact, after my redshirt year."
That Jones was able to convince erstwhile offensive coordinator Tony Franklin to abandon the vertical set -- which led to much-improved sack and tackle for loss numbers over the back half of the season -- made a big impact on Perez.
"That helps a lot, because I've tried the vertical set during a game, and I hated it, to be honest with you," Perez said. "I hated it. He told me they were going back to the kick slide, and I think that's way better, because you get to sit and punch."
UCLA, though, has its charms, including an offense that's exactly the same as Perez runs at Baldwin Park. It's also close to home.
"I think mainly, it's being close to home, and just the way they have their offense -- we run the same offense that they do -- so knowing that, going in, they run power, and that's what we do at my high school, that's a huge factor for me," Perez said.
Perez has been committed to the Bears since June. He's grown to love the coaches, and his fellow commits. But, home is home. It's a decision that's literally kept him up at night.
"It's tough," says a dour Perez. "There will be nights where I'll be overthinking it, and not sleeping. There will be times where I have to talk to my dad about it, talk to Cal alumni and UCLA alumni at my school -- well, mostly UCLA alumni."
One such Bruin alumnus is his Advanced Placement Human Georgraphy teacher.
"My AP Human Geography teacher, he tells me, 'If you ever need help deciding what college to go to, I won't be biased for UCLA, but I'll tell you what's good and what's bad from UCLA, and what's good and bad from Cal,'" Perez said. "They're very supportive. I know if I have any questions, they'll be there to help."