Isi Sofele (5-7, 175) will get to fulfill his dream and play in the Pac-10 Conference. Growing up, he liked all the California Pac-10 schools because his father is from the Golden State. But before California Golden Bear Head Coach Jeff Tedford called him last week, Sofele was close to deciding between SMU and Washington State. Playing in Berkeley, or any Pac-10 California school, did not seem like a viable option.
“I really didn’t think anything of [playing for] Cal,” said. “When I was growing up they’re probably one of my favorite teams.”
“I was shocked when I was driving home from school [last Tuesday] and I got that phone call from head coach [Jeff] Tedford. [He] said that he wanted to offer me a scholarship, a full-ride.”
Sofele took his official visit to Berkeley this past weekend. He says he had an idea what direction his decision was going to be before the weekend. However, the trip sealed the deal.
“I kind of knew I wanted to be a Bear,” said Sofele. “But after what I [saw] up there and how the coaches work…just the atmosphere that I would be surrounded by…I knew that was the place for me. I had to commit.”
“I just thought that I was going to go over there and it be a usual trip. When we landed, it was [somewhat] warm [much] better than Utah. They picked me up and we went to a hotel, a nice hotel. [We] got something to eat and talk to a couple of the coaches. Later that night, we met up with all the guys and looked around the campus. Then we went to [Coach] Tedford’s house and had dinner with the whole coaching staff and a bunch of the football players. It was fun. I liked it. My parents loved the campus and how the coaches work.”
Entering his senior season, the only Pac-10 school showing legitimate interest in Sofele was WSU. He had his dream of playing in the Pac-10, and set lofty goals for himself in the preseason. He wanted to rush for over 2,000 yards and to be considered the top player in Utah.
On the season, he finished with 1,916 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns, averaging over seven yards per rush. He also recorded 19 receptions in a spread offense for 300 yards and another four touchdowns. The Salt Lake City Tribune named him the Class 4A MVP, as he helped lead the Colts to the Class 4A state championship game.
“I didn’t let any of my coaches down,” said Sofele of his great 2008 season.
“I know we didn’t win the state championship. We were close to it, but I just know I didn’t let my coaches down. I worked my tail off for every one of those yards. I got that high [amount of yards] because of my coaches. My father [and coaches] just pushed me everyday to work harder and harder.”
Cal is recruiting the talented dual-threat as an athlete. Despite his diminutive stature, Sofele is expecting to come in compete right off the bat.
“I’m not planning on redshirting,” said Sofele. “I just want to go in there, work hard, and try to see if they need me on that roster. [The coaches] are telling me I can be an impact in their offense, ‘We’ll just see how these things work out this summer.’ They’ll be putting me at running back, slot, kick returner, and punt returner. Hopefully, everything works out.”
Sofele is the Bears 14th known verbal commitment of the 2009 recruiting class. He reports a 2.5 GPA. He scored a 20 on the ACT.
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