Cal baseball has certainly benefited from freshman pitcher Justin Jones' (8-2, 2.62 ERA) decision to enroll at Cal instead of joining the Chicago White Sox.
Jones internalizes much of what he's thinking. When he told the coaches on his unofficial visit to Cal that it had always been his dream school, it was news to his own father.
That was the summer before his senior year of high school. He saw a football game, walked the campus with the coaches and was offered a scholarship right there.
But the draft was still to come, and the following summer, in the wake of being selected in the seventh round by the Chicago White Sox, Jones warmed to the idea of turning pro out of high school. He even backed down from his original "firm number," the amount of money he was asking from Chicago, which indicated that he was leaning towards signing.
"I really wanted to go," says Jones. "I really wanted to play baseball-that's what I want to do with my life."
Still on the fence in mid-June, Jones attended the Summer Bridge program at Cal, which is geared towards easing the transition into the university for accepted students.
Truth be told, academics were a somewhat daunting prospect. Jones is a self-motivated learner. He was home schooled until the ninth grade and, away from the books, also taught himself to play the piano and guitar. So he bucked against the structure at Oakdale and, while his transcript wasn't bad, it didn't jump off the page.
"Coming in I was like, wow, college is probably going to be really tough," says Jones. "(In Summer Bridge) I took Chicano Studies and College Writing, and it was just easier than high school to me. Just the fact that you're more on your own, that it was more on me to learn."
Seeing his son begin to gravitate towards college, Stanley told Justin, "If you think you want to do it, you need to up your value to the White Sox." So Justin went back to asking for his original firm number. Chicago refused to meet it.
By that point, though, it wouldn't have mattered.
"I remember asking him when (summer school) ended, 'Will you be showing up in 10 days,'" says Bears head coach David Esquer. "And he says, 'Coach, I wouldn't give this up for any amount of money now.'
After the jump everyone and their mothers have mock NFL drafts, the 49ers talk about Best, several football players participate in a local mentoring program, and more.
- WalterFootball.com has an extensive prediction of how the NFL draft will unfold. predicts Best will be taken as the 34th pick, going to the Detroit Lions. Later in that round New England will choose Alualu with the 53rd pick. Indianapolis will choose Mike Tepper in the 5th round. Syd will be the fourth and final Bear drafted, going in the seventh round to the St Louis Rams.
- NFL.com predicts Best will stay in the Bay Area as San Francisco chooses him with the 49th pick. Alualu would be chosen by Cincinnati with the 54th pick.
- Mel Kiper's latest Big Board has Alualu going to the Colts in the first round.
- A representative from the 49ers said Best's medical history will have no impact on their decision to draft him.
- Several players have been putting time into the SAGE mentoring program, which pairs Cal students with local elementary school children.
- JO has post-scrimmage quotes from Tedford, Riley, Sofele, Debo, Payne, and Sweeney.
- Rugby cruised into the round of four with a 61-19 win over Penn St. The next matchup is against Arkansas at Stanford Stadium on April 30th.