BERKELEY-Before he got to Berkeley, tight end Jacob Wark had a particular workout routine when he got home from school. He would flip a 250-pound tire up a half-mile hill. Today, the two old friends met again during the second half of the Cal football team's Football Olympics.
"It was fun," Wark said. "It reminded me of back at home. I really enjoyed getting out here with all the guys, and it's been a fun camp. We've all worked hard, and this was a great day to just relax."
Head coach Jeff Tedford eschewed a practice to put an informal cap on fall camp, instead inviting the student body to come and take in a bit of shenanigans as the team competed in an egg toss, a tug-of-war, a bat-spin race and the ever-popular linemen returning punts drill.
In a rare move, after the team was done horsing around, Tedford got up on the bench and invited all students in attendance to come onto the field and take part, letting wide receiver Jeremy Ross, defensive lineman Cameron Jordan and starting quarterback Kevin Riley pick some lucky volunteers to field punts from the Juggs machine.
"We're fired up, the team's been working hard, we had our 21st practice yesterday after being here all summer long, so today was a chance to have some fun and try to ease it up a little bit," Tedford said to the students at his feet before introducing linebacker Mike Mohamed. "Now that you've had a chance to watch all the shenanigans going on, you guys are going to get the chance to catch those punts. It's harder than it looks, I'll promise you that."
But before the students tried their hands at fielding punts, the offensive and defensive linemen were put to the fire in the boiling heat, and several of them acquitted themselves quite well.
Jordan held his own quite well, fielding all of his catchable punts, but the real star of the drill was fellow defensive lineman Trevor Guyton, who showed his athleticism in returning about five punts before being mobbed by his jubilant teammates.
The baseball-bat spin was the most amusing for those assembled as well as the team, as freshman kicker Jed Barnett took a nosedive one step after dropping the bat, then got back up, only to fall again into a crowd of his new teammates.
"I'm a veteran, so I've got this down after three years," laughed fellow kicker David Seawright, who also participated in the races.
The entire team was in high spirits despite the rising mercury on Tuesday, and Wark reflected on his first college camp while taking advantage of some of the shade from the trees on the east rim of Memorial Stadium.
"I think today was real big for the team," Wark said of the fun and games. "All of us have been working hard, and I think just a day-off of rest, we had some preparation this morning, I think that's going to be real good for us."
Wark has had quite the camp in his first go-around, and was told before the team took the field that he would not be redshirting this year.
"As of now, the coaches say that I'm not redshirting," Wark said. "I'm not really sure-they haven't told me in person-whether I'm traveling or not, but I'm sure I'll find out in the next couple of days. I'm real excited about that. All the hard work has paid off."
Wark has been working hard under the watchful eye of first-year special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Jeff Genyk, and raved about his new coach's energy and drive.
"Coach Genyk, Anthony (Miller), Spencer (Ladner), Garry (Graffort)-all of the older tight ends-they really brought me in and coached me up, worked on my set step, my route-running, my blocking, everything," Wark said. "(Genyk) is a great coach. He's there, ready to work and constantly helps you to be your best, and he's going to be there for you, whenever you need him."
The Bears will take a well-deserved day off on Wednesday before getting down to business preparing for the season-opener against UC Davis on Thursday.
"We'll come back hard on Thursday, ready to work," Wark said. "My first camp was tough, but it was definitely good for me. It's a lot different than high school, more tempo to it, more plays mentally, a lot more to do physically, but I thought it was a great first camp, and I can't wait for the season to start."