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June 13, 2011

Kline goes shaggy for good cause

KLINE COVERAGE: Stanford Nike | Elite 11 | Army AA
KLINE HIGHLIGHTS: Elite 11 | Junior season

Zach Kline used to sport a crew-cut shave, a well-maintained look with military precision. Just last summer, Kline showed up to events looking sharp, like someone who was all business.

Now the Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley quarterback - last seen at the Stanford Elite 11 regional and Stanford Nike Camp in May - looks as if he's fallen on hard times. His hair is long and unkempt, shaggy and not styled, creeping down his neck and well over his ears.

Can someone please find Kline a pair of scissors and an electric razor?

No worries, though, this new look is for a good cause.

Kline, the second-best quarterback in the 2012 class who committed to California in September, is growing out his hair for Locks of Love, the public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

"(Four-star wide receiver prospect) Bryce (Treggs) always gives me crap for it and a few people do, but it's never a big thing," Kline said. "They just always ask what am I doing and I tell them Locks of Love and then they say it's a really cool thing. No one ever says anything bad about that. No one thought I would do it but it's this long so why not?"

The idea is a noble one but not exactly Kline's alone. The four-star prospect said he heard former Stanford linebacker and fullback Owen Marecic, drafted by the Cleveland Browns this spring, was growing out his hair for Locks of Love. Kline thought it sounded cool and decided to copy the generosity.

There are certain specifications Kline must meet before he can go back to his traditional buzz cut, which he sported last summer when he was arguably the second-best quarterback at the Elite 11 behind four-star Florida signee Jeff Driskel.

His hair has to be a minimum of 10 inches in a ponytail which Kline figures has to be about 12 inches in total length. The rule is that after it reaches the 10 inches, the Northern California prospect will go to a barber, cut off only the ponytail portion and mail it to Locks of Love.

Donated hair is used to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. According to the organization, most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure.

Kline figures he's been growing his hair for about three months and it's slightly less than half of its eventual length needed for Locks of Love. So there is still a ways to go but he's sure the liberal crowd at Cal won't mind.

"If it takes me until I get to Berkeley that would be fine," Kline said. "I'm sure I would fit in just fine there."

Kline's current goals go beyond growing out his hair more than a foot. He's trying to add to Cal's recruiting class and he's making it no secret that he's targeting some of the West Coast's top prospects.

Kline is a spectacular quarterback who received this review from former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer after the Elite 11 regional at Stanford.

"He immediately makes people around him better," Dilfer said. "I think that's ultimately the job of the quarterback.

"When he steps on the field, some people call it swagger, but I call it sauce because it's a good thing. It's, 'I'm comfortable in my own skin. I'm going to be me,' and when you're that way, you just go play football. He's a talented kid. There are 20 kids here that are super-talented, but he owns it. He knows what he's doing."

Many other experts have said similar things about Kline's ability, and with all that praise the four-star quarterback is looking to fill Cal's class with as much talent as possible.

That's why he makes it no secret he's busy recruiting for the Golden Bears - committed guys, uncommitted guys, anyone who could make the program better are fair game.

Top targets on Kline's list include USC commit Jordan Payton, tight ends Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Ian Taubler, and Treggs, a four-star receiver whose father, Brian, set receiving records at Cal.

Big, talented offensive linemen are also high priorities - San Clemente (Calif.) standout Kyle Murphy and Encino (Calif.) Crespi's Jordan Simmons are two of Kline's targets.

"I'm recruiting a lot," Kline said. "I call them up or make friends with them at camp or a lot of them are already my Facebook friends, so that's a good way to talk with them," he said. "You just have to talk with them because you're already good friends with them. It's a lot of fun. I just want Cal to be the best and a lot of these guys are my friends."

Even if they can't stop poking fun of his new look.



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