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Saffell is Centered on Preparing for Cal Football Season

May 27, 2020

Michael Saffell is unsure when or even if the Cal football team can resume practicing. Too much uncertainty surrounds not only football but all aspects of campus life.

But one thing the senior center does know. When that time comes, he will be ready.

Soon after the campus closed up because of the coronavirus, Saffell returned to his Southern California home and finished his semester’s classwork remotely. He is on track to graduate in December. And his training regimen did not miss a beat, just changed course a little.

“One of my high school O-line coaches is still here, so we’ve been trying to do social distance workouts,” he said by telephone earlier this week. “I am still getting my work in, staying fresh, staying on it.”

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Saffell portects Chase Garbers

And he is staying healthy, not only from the pandemic but the injuries that have cut into his playing time.

“I am in the best shape of my time at Cal/”

With no access to weight room facilities, some players have to resort to lifting sandbags on broomsticks. Not Saffell

“When I was in eighth grade, my dad bought me a squat rack and bench rack and some dumbbells,” Saffell said. “All throughout high school, I never used it. I was always lifting at high school or with a trainer.” He thought the gift was an unnecessary extravagance. Not any more.

”Now I come home and, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I have this.’ My dad was a genius.”

Not only is he staying sharp physically, but the mental part of the game is also being polished. Offensive line coach Angus McClure calls the group to order via the Zoom platform.

“We do two hour-and-a-half  Zoom meetings a week,” Saffell said. “We are in constant contact, go over plays, things like that.

“Obviously it’s a little bit different when you are not in person. We don’t have access to all the resources. But we are watching videos of all our plays, drawing up plays, getting quizzed consistently through Cahoot.  We are constantly updating that stuff.”

Saffell chuckled when he contrasted McClure’s technical skills with his predecessor Steve Greatwood, who retired in December at age 61. Greatwood was loved and respected by his players as a coach and mentor but recognized as a 20th Century man in a lot of ways.

“Coach Angus is a power user when it comes to that technology stuff. Coach Greatwood would be like ‘I have no idea what that stuff is’,” Saffell said. “Coach Greatwood would send  you a letter as opposed to coach Angus.”

Saffell has found the internet necessary to keep the Cal Summer Reading Challenge alive.

Begun two years ago by running back Patrick Laird, high school students were challenged to read a certain number of books and submit reports over the summer. Those who did so received tickets to the regular-season opener.

In 2019 Saffell and tackle Henry Bazakas took over the program and continue this year. However, the lockdown has forced them to conduct all the interaction via the internet.

Saffell says he enjoys reading aloud and extolling the virtues of the printed word in every way. But the face to face meetings have had a profound effect on him.

 As [art of the program they made on-campus visits to some of the schools, delivering books. 

“Going to see these kids in the sub pockets of low income, I was truly affected by that,’ Saffell said. “A lot of these kids don’t have access to books, don’t have access to parents or guardians that are encouraging them to read. It is easy for me to say, being from Orange County,

Al Seremeno - KLC Photos
Saffell (left) and Bazakas interact with young readers

‘This isn’t my issue.’ But when you see these kids during the book drive. Having the shock on their faces when we give them their first free book, that is what really is great. Seeing that we were making a true difference to these kids.”

He was gratified that the young students were able to realize football players knew more letters besides “X” and “O”.

“When a football player comes in they are not expecting him to talk about reading,” he said. “I think sometimes the room can turn on you when you talk about reading. We just want to show them if you want to go to college, you want to play football, reading is cool  And even with all the modern technology people are still reading and getting a lot of benefits out of it.”


Discussion from...

Saffell is Centered on Preparing for Cal Football Season

2,936 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Cave Bear
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Centered. heh.
Cave Bear
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Saffell is going to have a great season
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