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Photo by Twitter / Tidiane Jalloh

JC Transfer OLB Jalloh Talks About His Unique Journey to Cal

May 4, 2023
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Amidst the flurry of portal transfer commits the Bears have pulled in over the last couple weeks, they also received a commitment not on anyone’s radar in Independence CC defensive end Tidiane Jalloh‍.

It’s been a bittersweet week for the newest Bear who’s currently back home in France mourning the loss of his mother just a week ago.

“Life will never be the same, you know?” Jalloh said. “I’m going to miss her so much but I’m going to make her proud.” 

Twitter / Tidiane Jalloh
Jalloh on OV with his mom, sister

Jalloh paid tribute to his mom, who was able to make the visit with him to Cal before she passed, saying, “Thank you,  mom. I’m Proud of you. I will take care of Ours and I will become the King I promised I would be. May God open the Gates of Heaven for You. Rest in peace, my Loving Mom 23/11/1967 - 25/04/23. He also quoted some special thoughts from his mom before she passed away:

“I know that this is just the beginning. That’s what I told her dad. I know you’re gonna make it. You’re a future king, my heart. God is near you. You have our ancestors following you. It won’t be easy, but it is your destiny. Your loving mother.”

 

Not your typical junior college prospect, Jalloh made the unusual transition to football by seeing it on TV and learning a new game for him in France.

"I tried to start playing football before COVID but had never practiced with pads until February 2021. So I was playing on the new team in my city Toulon in France and then in February, I started playing before COVID with that team and then when COVID hit, I moved to another team. It's like one hour from my home in Marseilles. I then moved to Independence in Kansas.

"Football's not really popular in France but I watched Last Chance U on Netflix when I was playing basketball at the time. I just wanted to do something new. I really fell in love with the sport. So as soon as I started playing football, I asked my coach who I should follow in football. I was playing tight end and Dline so I started watching highlight videos of guys like Vaughn Miller and Miles Garrett in the NFL. I didn't know much about college football at that point.”

It can be a difficult proposition to get discovered plying in a country hardly known for it’s football prowess but Jalloe was determined to make it happen any way he could, perhaps inspired by watching players chase their dreams in the popular Netflix series.

"As soon as I played my first game, I had maybe a seven-play highlight. So I made a highlight film and I started spamming all the coaches on Twitter and I kept adding highlights. I chose Independence because I watched them on Last Chance U.

Though he didn’t know it at the time, another former Bear with African roots took a similar path, with linebacker Kuony Deng coming from Sudan to Independence before eventually winding up at Cal.

"We follow each other on social media and my coach told me about him when I got that Cal offer,” Jalloh said. "We're both from Africa - him really from Africa and me by my parents. So you know, there's the extra little support with us both being international players. He's from Sudan and my mom is from Gabon and my dad is from Guinea. Long distance but same continent."

As for how Cal came into the picture, the Bears were intrigued by what they saw from Jalloh and eventually reached out in their pursuit of adding more of an edge presence to their defense.

"So one day, Coach So'oto texted me when I was in class so we just had a call a few minutes after he texted me," Jalloh said. "He was saying good things about how it can be difficult for an international kid. He was able to understand my purpose as somebody that left home to come to America to follow a dream. After that, he kept following up with the connection and he was texting me, calling me often. And he just told me two weeks after we had our first call that I should visit and we talked about setting up the visit before the end of Ramadan, but because I was fasting and I would not be able to eat and stuff like that, we just waited for the end of Ramadan to visit.



"My visit was really nice. He said he didn't want to bring me to fancy places but instead just wanted me to know the types of places I'd probably eat at when I will come to Cal. It was all good.

“I like the fact that it's a good academic school for my parents and that was my mom's wish before she passed away. And I like that I'm able to play in a place that reminds me a little of France. So when I was there, it really felt like home. There was a lot of diversity in the campus. And I like the coaching staff a lot. They really welcomed me with arms open. We had fun with the whole staff. It was like something I was feeling. 

Jalloh with family on Cal OV

"The vibes were great at Cal. Sometimes when you go to school, it can feel like everyone is looking you over too much and you don't feel natural. And when I was there, it was just like everything was natural. I was hanging out and talking with the coaches. I was in the locker room around players and there were good players, good vibes in the locker room and I could just see myself in that locker room. So I made the decision that I would commit before the end of the visit. 

"I know the defense, will be good. I saw how well they played in the Notre Dame game so I wasn't really worried when I saw their record last season. They can be really, really good next season."

Jalloh was timed in an impressive 4.8 as a 275 lb defensive end but will make the transition to outside linebacker/edge player at Cal.

“I'll probably play at 265 or 260 where I can run and be really explosive playing a little bit lighter and I won't need to carry all that weight on my body.”

The high 3 star athlete got offers from Kansas State and Iowa State after the season and also took official visits to both but opted to see what other opportunities might come his way.

Overall, the whirlwind transition from basketball player to football neophyte continues on track for the talented young athlete.

“Obviously, it's a dream come true, you know?” Jalloh said  “I started playing football without a purpose in my head. I liked what I saw on TV and when I started taking it seriously, I said I'm gonna make this happen however I can. I'm gonna go to JUCO and do one or two years, go to D1/Power 5 and do what I can to try to go to the league.”

And in just a month, Jalloh will continue to follow his dream at Cal.

Related:

Bears Continue to Add Portal Depth With Missouri CB Transfer Marcus Scott

Bears Make Their First Big OL Addition of the Spring in A&M OL Wykoff

Discussion from...

JC Transfer OLB Jalloh Talks About His Unique Journey to Cal

4,525 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 11 mo ago by Cal Strong!
Goobear
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Tidiane welcome to Cal Football! Wishing you the very best of success. Go Bears!
chazzed
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Welcome to Cal, Mr. Jalloh. May you thrive here, and may your mother rest in peace.
BearoutEast67
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I'm sorry for your loss, Jalloh. If you let them, your new brothers will surround and support you. Your mother lives on in you, and will love what you do and develop at Cal.
Donate to Cal's NIL at https://calegends.com/donation/
Cal Strong!
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Cal Strong's heart goes out to Jalloh. No matter how old one is, one never really gets over the loss of one's mother. Pain dulls over time. But it never goes away.

Cal Strong very interested in Jalloh's story. Cal Strong lived in France for many years, and has visited briefly Toulon a few times. He has also worked in a Muslim country with athletes who balancing training, academics, and fasting during Ramadan. That a real challenge. Understandably, they can be very grouchy during Ramadan.

As for Jalloh's tape, it was hardly impressive. His football speed seems slow and his form not strong. But when one understands he has barely played any football, one strongly hopes he can develop quickly and strongly at Cal.
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