March 14, 2013
BERKELEY - Today was a big day for former Cal football player Isi Sofele. Despite being the only Golden Bear in his class to play in all 50 games over the last four years, and even though he rushed for 2,499 yards and 15 touchdowns at Cal to rank just outside the school's all-time top 10 on both lists, Sofele was not one of approximately 330 players across the country invited to the NFL Combine in February.
Instead of performing for hundreds of head coaches, general managers and scouts from all 32 NFL teams, there was Sofele on a sun-drenched late morning Thursday on his home turf at Memorial Stadium finally get his chance to strut his stuff for a handful of scouts representing the majority of NFL teams on Cal's pro timing day. This was his shot, he knew it and he was ready.
"This is a huge day for me," Sofele said. "I didn't get a chance to go to the combine and show myself there. I had a couple of extra weeks to prepare and come out here to do what I needed to do. I came here to take advantage of the opportunity I had with all of these scouts here. Hopefully I caught somebody's eye."
He hopes he did that by posting a hand-timed 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, showing his strength with 20 bench press reps of 225 pounds, recording a 6.82 3 cone drill mark that would have been fourth among running backs at the combine, and adding respectable marks of 4.22 in the 20-yard shuttle and 34 inches in the vertical jump.
"I had to come out here and prove myself and let the scouts know what they're missing out on," Sofele said with a hint of a smile but much more seriousness. "I felt good about everything that I did. I'll just leave everything in the hands of the scouts."
One scout liked what he saw.
"He showed quickness, good change of direction, explosiveness, and for a smaller guy good power," the scout said. "He also showed with his performance today that he is a hard worker behind the scenes. You don't do the things he did and look the way he looked without working hard."
Cal head strength and conditioning coach Mike Blasquez agrees wholeheartedly.
"Isi has worked hard ever since he's been at Cal," Blasquez said. "He's dedicated himself to train and to get better. For teams that are looking at him, his showing today confirms to them that this is a guy they should be looking at."
So what is next?
"I go back home, train and wait for the draft," Sofele answered.
He'll wait along with Cal's five players that were invited to the combine in WR Keenan Allen, TB C.J. Anderson, CB Marc Anthony, OL Brian Schwenke and CB Steve Williams. All were on hand Thursday with Anderson making the most notable measurable improvement, lowering his time in the 40-yard dash from a 4.60 electronic mark at the combine to a hand-timed range of 4.49 - 4.52 among scouts in attendance.
Allen and Schwenke did not participate in any measurable drills Thursday. Allen, a projected first-round pick who also missed the combine with a knee injury, is scheduled to hold his own pro day April 9 in his hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina.
Others former Cal players who participated included LB Ryan Davis, TB Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, WR Coleman Edmond, DB Tyré Ellison, DB Darian Hagan, DB Josh Hill, FB Kameron Krebs, TB Mike Manuel, LB Robert Mullins, DL Kendrick Payne, FB Eric Stevens, OL Matt Summers-Gavin and DL Aaron Tipoti. QB Zach Maynard was in attendance but did not participate.