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Photo by Santiago Meiia / SF Chronicle
Cal Football

Remigio Back on Track and Ready to Roll

November 30, 2019

Quarterback Chase Garbers may be getting the majority of the credit for ending Cal’s 9-year losing streak in the Big Game, and while he is more than deserving of that honor, wide receiver Nikko Remigio certainly deserves to join him as one of the heroes of the 122nd Big Game. 

Remigio, the true sophomore from Mater Dei, had his by far his best career game against Stanford, catching nine passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. The catch and yardage numbers were both career highs. 

“It means the world,” Remigio said about having those career highs in the Big Game. “I truly felt how special that Axe was to everybody in the Cal community and just to be able to play my bit and my role in that game was something amazing. I just have a whole new appreciation for The Axe and for the community that’s supporting Cal.

“Even though it may not be the biggest community, the fans are are very dedicated to our program and wanted to see us win,” Remigio continued. “To know that we have that type of support is something that's so special to me and everybody who plays on the team.” 

He also stepped up when Cal needed him most with a clutch touchdown catch in the fourth quarter and also providing a crucial block for Garbers on his game-winning touchdown run. 

“Really it’s just me doing my job as a receiver,” he said about the block. “You're supposed to catch the ball, but you're supposed to also block, and downfield blocking is one of the most crucial aspects of an offense. And when you watch the film, it's not just myself, but all the receivers are downfield blocking and stretching to get those extra yards. So I mean, it's just really that everything that we preach in the film room, just being a dog in the run game and on the perimeter and results like that happen.”

Garbers and Remigio, the two heroes of the game, have plenty of similarities. First, they are both from SoCal, which is something that Remigio cites as a big reason behind their friendship. 

Another similarity is that the two of them have had unfortunate luck with injuries this season. Garbers suffered a shoulder injury against Arizona State earlier this season, causing him to miss several weeks leading up to the USC game, where he was knocked out of early with a concussion. 

Remigio, on the other hand, missed a game early in the season against Washington and did not play later in the season against Utah or Washington State. He, like Garbers, returned in the USC game, but in limited capacity. However, the two of them obviously showed up big time for the Big Game. 

“I feel like we picked it right back up and didn’t even skip a beat really,” said Remigio about his almost immediate success post-injury. “As soon as he got back into practice and I was rolling in practice again, we kind of just picked it up right where we left off.”

Garbers had a very similar response. “I think injuries obviously slowed a little bit of that timing down, but once you practice a little while more and kind of get that rhythm and timing back, you see it translate on Saturdays,” explained Garbers.

Remigio also attributes a lot of his and Garbers’ success in dealing with injuries to the training staff: “I can’t give enough credit to our training staff who helps get us all healthy,” said Remigio. “I mean they make sure we're in there every day. We don't have an option and there's a lot of guys who end up on the injury report.”

Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin also made sure to give the players the credit they deserve when it comes to overcoming injuries to perform and achieve the level of success that they had in the Big Game.

“They’re both just really tough players and tough competitors,” said Baldwin. “They’re not afraid of big moments so it’s not shocking to me, but it takes it to another level to me when they do it in that environment being down in the fourth quarter.”

Still, Remigio didn’t run out of nice things to say about the training staff. 

“[They are here from] like 7:00 to 12:00 and then they are here helping us with practice. You know, without them and the strength staff giving us workouts to help strengthen things that are injured, I don't think I'd be able to get back on the field [so quickly]. So a big thank you to everybody who is working with Cal and all the staff members.”

That isn’t to say that those injuries were easy on Remigio.

“I think it takes a toll on any athlete's mental outlook, dealing with injuries and trying to come back and not feeling like they're fully themselves,” Remigio said about those nagging injuries. “I think to finally overcome that hump mentally and gain confidence in my ability again and have it be the Big Game... I think that’s what played a role in me being so emotional at the end of the game because I just was facing a lot of things, a lot of trials and tribulations just trying to come from it all and get back on the field and come back feeling confident.”

The last and arguably most important similarity between Remigio and Garbers is that they are both sophomores. The two of them are sure to be a part of the core of a Cal offense that will remain mostly intact for next season.

“I think Cal fans have a lot to be excited about with this offense in the next few years. It's only going upward from last year, my first year, and I see it continuing to go up or from here,” said Remigio. 

“It’s going to be fun.”

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