2011 is an odd and unique year for Cal football. Not only are we not able to actually have any games at Memorial Stadium, we can't have the Fanfest there, either. So, it was moved to the Underhill Parking Lot, which is a several story parking structure with a faux-grass field on the top. Another one of those standard Berkeley parking lots with multi-purposes.
When I was at Cal, though, it was just a massive pit of a parking lot. This was even before that huge dining commons sprung up. I guess now it's a lot better. Not only can it feed all of Units 1 and 2. It can hold the Fan Appreciation Day.
So, on Saturday, August 27, 2011, Cal fans streamed down to Underhill to meet and greet the 2011 football team. Some photos after the jump of the players and the action of the day. Go Bears!
Before the entrance to the field, there were several tents set up. Rubio's was providing free burritos! Pepsi was providing free Pepsi Max! And free Pepsi iPhone 4 cases. I took one, even though I don't have an iPhone 4. I thought it would inspire me to work harder, make more money, and some day live the dream of owning an iPhone 4. Instead, my institutional laziness set in and I just gave it a friend. You could even get a free Slurpee at the 7-11 booth in the foreground here.
So, we just milled about this entrance area for a little while, waiting for them to open the gates at 12:15.
In prior years, Cal fans would enter Memorial from the North Tunnel, while players would enter either from an entrance in the Gold Zone (presumably close to their lockerrooms) or, solely for last year, down from Witter Field (since all the facilities were moved there). This year, however, all the fans and the players just entered at the same time to the same entrance. It was just a big group of people coming in at whatever time together.
I always enjoy the Fan Appreciation Day, because the Cal football team always seems full of very gregarious and personable people. I don't know if they put on a big smile for the day and at other times wouldn't care as much. Even Coach Tedford, who is perceived as an emotionless robot, is funny and outgoing at the event. I like joking around with the players and asking stupid questions about how afraid I should be for the Presbyterian game.
Here is Mark Brazinski. He had a massive beard and David Seawright, former Cal kicker, had tweeted that we should investigate the beard and give it the coverage it deserves. But he shaved! Brazinski is a great example of the personable Cal player. Funny, outgoing, interesting.
Here is quarterback Zach Maynard. As anybody who has watched the Cal preview show can tell you, he has a surprisingly deep voice. He also writes right handed. So, he throws left handed, writes right handed. I presume he can fold laundry with his feet and drives a car with his neck. I think he is some sort of superhuman, able to use all parts of his body better than I can use my right hand.
He was wearing a Hornets hat at the start of the day. That looks like an old school Charlotte Hornets hat and Maynard is from North Carolina. At some point, it was switched to a Cal hat (see below). I don't know if some Cal Athletics higher up saw it and said something. All I know is the Hornets had was gone and a Cal hat in its place.
Here is Allan Bridgford, QB, signing autographs.
Spencer Lander is sticking with the long hair, despite the fact they cut Alexander Skaargard's hair on True Blood. I think that is good, bc I don't like the new look for "Eric" on that show. I also hope that a 17th century witch doesn't put a hex on Ladner, causing complete amnesia. Then, he would forget the playbook!
Covaughn Deboksie-Johnson (though his jersey solely says Deboskie) was seated signing autographs. He is in the mix for playing time at RB. Another funny guy. Although I couldn't stop staring at that brand on his shoulder. That thing had to hurt. A lot.
Sometimes when I would ask to take a photo with a player, I would joke that I wanted them to take the photo of me and my friends. However, here some person actually had a player take a photo of them! Flipping the script! This appears to be Geoff Gibson, a very large offensive line man. The roster has him at 6'4" and 310. He appears to be a redshirt freshman, so hopefully he'll be an important cog of the OLine for years to come!
Dasarte Yarnway, RB, signing autographs.
You can sometimes tell who some of the more popular players are on the team by how far they make it into the Fanfest before they get stuck in front of a big line. In 2008, Kevin Riley made it about 2 feet in and was mobbed by fans. They had set up a table for him and had to move it to him, because he couldn't make it any further. Here, we see Keenan Allen right by the entrance to the field. That is just the start of the line there. It went for a while.
He was wearing the socks and sandals thing. A LOT of players were wearing socks with sandals. I don't get it! Don't they know how big of a fashion no no that is!?!? It's like wearing white after labor day.
I actually asked a bunch of players who the best dancer on the team was and Keenan Allen's name was one that pretty much every player said. So, not only can he toast opposing DBs and weave impressively through traffic for a key score, he can do a killer Macarena! Too bad they keep changing the rules on excessive celebration. We won't be able to see him do a great Cabbage Patch after scoring.
This is running back C.J. Anderson. I went up and thanked him for his awesome interview (Parts 1 and 2). He is a local guy out of Vallejo, who just transferred from Laney. Although this will be his first year at Cal, he is rocketing up the depth chart and might get some playing time at RB. We have a lot of depth and talent at RB, so I have hopes for the year.
Here is DLine man, Kendrick Payne:
Another person who barely made it in to the field before getting mobbed was freshman sensation Viliami Moala. Hardcore fans know him as a massive recruit (both physically and talent-wise) from Grant High in Sacramento. Even non-hardcore fans learned of his impressive stature from a recent SF Chronicle article.
His nickname is either "V" or "Tiny." And he is huuuuuge.
Here is coach Kevin Parker. ROPE COACH!
Sean Cattouse was on his way to the Senior Defense table (more on that in Part 2), but stopped for a moment to chat with fans and sign autographs.
Here is Gabe King, another big part of the Defensive Line depth in 2011. He is a redshirt freshman, but should see some playing time. Roster has him at 6'5" and 275. Hopefully, he'll be a dominant force in the coming years. Another really funny guy. Future Cam Jordan? Laughing with fans on FanFest, making QBs cry on gameday! Although I don't know how he was wearing that beanie, because it was really, really hot.
Deandre Coleman was joking with fans and signing autographs. Another HUGE man. 6'5" and 315, according to the roster. And only a sophmore! I am in love with our defensive line!
Steve Williams, defensive back:
Tosh Lupoi, DLine coach and recruiter of the year, walked by. He had grown a beard, which came out orange-ish. Kind of a Chuck Norris-y look. Which makes sense, considering his awesomeness. I presume he started growing this beard 20 minutes prior to the event!
Deandre Coleman shares a few laughs with Dan Camporeale, who is coming on strong in the linebacking depth chart. Camporeale is a local guy, from Lafayette.
So, there is a good spot as any to stop for today. I'll be back in a few days with more photos from the FanFest. Do you have any photos or memories from the event? Leave your thoughts in the comments!! GO BEARS!