BTC: Scouting Michael Trani

BTC: Scouting Michael Trani

We get a closer, in-depth look at the "mean sonuvabitch" that Cal just got to nail down the interior line for the 2014 class with the man who knows him best.

Under Mike Moschetti, La Mirada (Calif.) has become quite the attractive hunting ground for college coaches all over the nation. But, the former Colorado quarterback and current Matador head coach sang the praises of just one on Saturday, as California secured a commitment from Moschetti's do-everything offensive lineman Michael Trani.

"You have no idea how excited we are. It's been a dream of Michael to play Division I football, and he's going to play in the Pac-12, it's a great conference, and it's an exciting time to be a Cal football fan," Moschetti said. "This coaching staff is really getting after it. They're recruiting nationally, they're also focusing on Southern California extremely hard, and they've been on Michael from Day One. They've kept in touch with our coaching staff and they've done a great job and we're excited to be a part of it."

Offensive line coach Zach Yenser and wide receivers coach Rob Likens -- who covers parts of southern California -- were the point men in recruiting Trani -- a 6-foot-4, 285-pounder who ranks as the No. 21 center in the 2014 class.

"He's so versatile, you can put him anywhere on the offensive line, and he's a big-time long snapper, also, and that's also a plus for Cal," Moschetti said. "Cal has really been, throughout this whole recruiting process, he's really wanted to prove to the Cal coaching staff that he could handle it, academically. That was his goal, at the beginning of the semester: To get a 4.0. He hit that goal."

Beyond the classroom, Trani's intellectual acumen is a big advantage on the field, where he calls out fronts no matter where he is situated on the line.

"He's a kid that can play center, guard and tackle. In our offensive line, we have a strong side and a weak side, so he plays in a right-handed stance and a left-handed stance, so that's also an advantage," Moschetti said. "He's put on about 15 pounds since last year, and he has great feet. He has something that you can't coach. He plays with great pad level, he's relentless, he finishes blocks. That's tough to teach kids at a young age, and that's tough to teach kids at an older age. He finishes every drill, finishes everything he does in the weight room, in the classroom and out at practice. He's a relentless football player."

What sets Trani apart from the pack is his pure, unadulterated aggression and ferocity. In the mold of maulers like Matt Cochran, Chris Adcock and Jordan Rigsbee, Trani is a barrel-chested battering ram with no off switch.

"He's the academic guy, but he's also a mean sonuvabitch on the football field, and that's tough to find," Moschetti said. "In the past five years, we've had an offensive lineman who's gone to Alabama, a kid that's at Kansas -- La Mirada has had a great history of offensive linemen playing Division I football. We've had kids go to Purdue, UCLA, Colorado, BYU, Arizona. It's a great offensive line school, and he's as good as anybody that I've coached."

Where does that mean streak come from? It turns out it's more a case of ‘nurture' than ‘nature.'

"He's very humble. He realized, going into this whole recruiting process, he's been very grateful to all of the schools that are recruiting him, but it just made him work harder and get better. He's not a finished product. He still has a long way to go, but he's willing to put in the work," Moschetti said. "He's coached by three really good offensive line coaches -- Mike Cardona, his offensive line coach, played at Purdue; we have another offensive line coach who played at the University of Arizona; and we have another guy who helps out that played at a Division III school -- all three of those guys are hard-asses, they're in-your-face, they challenge them on a daily basis. Some schools, with guys that are big-time recruits, guys take it easy on them, but our offensive staff is constantly in a training stage, pushing them and making them realize, every day, that they still have a long way to go, that they've got a lot to prove and you've got to get a lot better."

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