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Cal Football

Bear Insider Video: Cal OL Jackson Brown and Sioape Vatikani

November 18, 2022

Cal freshman offensive guard Sioape Vatikani and offensive tackle Jackson Brown arrived on campus in June for summer workouts and class and have seen their first action as collegiate players as true frosh, with Vatikani taking over as the starting right guard early in the season and Brown seeing his first action in Cal’s down-to-the-wire 41-35 loss at USC while still being able to preserve his redshirt season.

“It wasn’t too bad,” said the understated Vatikani about starting so early in his collegiate career. “We do a bunch of live reps here in practice and our guys know how to prepare us for what’s coming up, so us practicing at game speed and starting in a game, it just felt like practice.”

Brown missed some time to injury in fall camp and wasn’t ready to play early but has anxiously embraced getting an opportunity to play later on.

“It’s been good,” said Brown. “Playing at USC was awesome. Getting my first reps was huge and it’s going to help me progress for sure in my development so it’s been awesome.”

Getting his first collegiate time against USC was especially meaningful for Brown and his family.

“My mom went there and it was my dream school so going against them was awesome,” said Brown. “And taking it to them on that first drive (when he was in) was so cool so it was pretty awesome.”

Was it emotional for his mom, too?

“Oh yeah, she was crying after the game,” said Brown with a smile. “She said, ‘Of course, you did it against my Trojans.’”

The transition from high school ball and academics is not always an easy one, particularly at a challenging academic institution like Cal. Both players talked a bit about what they learned and focused on in the last five months on campus and in the program.

“Definitely preparation is one of the biggest keys,” noted Brown. “Just watching film, meetings, everything. In high school, you don’t do that as much, just a little bit of film. That’s definitely been the biggest change and then definitely the strength of the game. You're going from being with guys in math (in class) to guys who do this full-time (on the field). They’re the best players from their high schools, as well, so it’s a pretty big change.”

“I would say it’s just taking care of yourself, whether it’s your body physically or your mind mentally,” noted Vatikani. “There’s always going to be a lot of stuff going on in college, whether it’s football or education or with your friend group. Just take care of yourself. That’s how you do it.”

After growing up going to Cal games with family members, it’s especially meaningful for Brown to actively participate in the legendary game himself this weekend, especially on the 40th anniversary of The Play and the 125 annual game.

“It’s awesome to be in that position,” said Brown. “I was at the game last year (Cal’s 41-11 win at Stanford in last year’s Big Game) and was able to get down on the field after we beat them bad. Just to be able to play in it will be crazy. We know Memorial Stadium is gonna be packed and the tradition’s crazy so it’s going to be really cool.”

“Oh yeah, you can just really feel the energy around the locker room and on campus,” agreed Vatikani. “Everybody is ready for this game. No matter what our records are, it’s going to be a good game. It’s going to be packed. All the fans are going to be here. It’s going to bring back a lot of memories.”


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