High School Teammates Craig, Tattersall Thriving as Frosh

August 22, 2018

The first few days on a campus can be intimidating to incoming freshmen. It helps to be able to find a familiar face, even if it is across the line of scrimmage.

Offensive tackle Will Craig (above left) and inside linebacker Evan Tattersall were high school teammates and now they are college roommates. At Granite Bay (Calif.) High School although they both played both ways, they seldom opposed one another in practice. High school coaches are careful with valuable commodities.

But during Cal’s fall practices it is an almost daily occurrence, and they are building on their mutual respect.

“He really embraces the challenges,” Craig said of Tattersall. “He is a great athlete, super strong and super fast. And he is starting to translate that really well here.”

Said Tattersall, “Even though we both played both ways, I never played against Will in high school. Now we go against each other a few times, but sometimes I don’t even know it’s him.

“He is tough. I have seen him improve since high school, but he has also been telling me how much he thinks he’s improved over the last couple of weeks.”

Both have made enough of an impression on the coaches to perhaps earn themselves some meaningful playing time this season.

“He is taking a lot of reps with the second team, and progressing,” offensive line coach Steve Greatwood said of Craig. “It’s a steep learning curve for those young offensive linemen. With every practice I see him developing and getting a little bit better at his craft.

“What you notice about him is his athleticism. For a kid his size (6-5, 270) he can move. He’s got good balance, got good quickness. We are continuing to work on pad level and keeping it down. All those thing that go into it.”

Craig said the hardest thing was mastering the offensive system. If you think offensive line play is just going out and finding somebody to knock down, Craig has news for you.

“The playbook, it is so much more complex,” he said. “There are calls for every little thing you can imagine. Every play there is so much variation. If one guy is here you do this. If he moves over you do this. There is just so many complicated things in the playbook you have to watch out for up here. But I am getting it more and more every day.

“And then also, just like the quality of competition, everybody is here for a reason. There are no plays off.”

Tattersall, too, finds the cerebral nature of the college game a challenge.

“Just digesting plays, reading my keys, seeing what’s going on,” he said. “It is different from high school. In high school you just kind of know what’s going to happen before it happens. Offenses are much better in college obviously. …. One of the hardest things for me is knowledge of the playbook, but I’ve gotten better at that.”

Of course, knowing what to do is one thing. Doing it is something else.

“In college football there is a lot of passing,” he said. “More than I have before I am dropping into pass coverage. I have gotten better at pass defense. The biggest area I have to improve is stopping the run, just knowing where to be. Everybody has a responsibility and I’ve got to learn mine.

“I’ve held my own, but a lot of times you get dominated by the big O-linemen.”

Which ones?

“Probably all of them.”

One of his fellow linebackers said that he expects Tattersall to "play a key role in our linebacking corps" this year.

"He has done a phenomenal job from the day he walked on campus," senior inside backer Jordan Kunaszyk said, adding that Tattersall made a good impression in the practices the players organoized during the summer.

"He is picking it up really fast and translating it onto the field. He has a bright future in the upcoming years at Cal."

When Cal first contacted Craig a few years ago, it was with the thought of his being a defensive lineman,  which seems strange considering former coach Sonny Dykes offensive emphasis.

“My first offer here from the old coaching staff was to play defense,” he said. “Playing both ways was really fun, I enjoyed defense but you don’t have to think as much.. . It is a different mentality, I definitely miss that. I really am enjoying the offense. No better feeling in the game than to pancake on someone.”

So far Tattersall has escaped the Bisquick. “I haven’t gotten him,” said Craig. “Yet.”

The two were both high-level recruits and although they shared their thoughts and experiences during the process they did not present themselves as a package deal.

“We talked all the way through the process. Not necessarily about Cal, but through the whole thing about impressions we shared and what it would be like if we go there,” Tattersall said. “But it wasn’t until the very end, the last couple of days before we committed that we agreed.”

Said Craig, “We conversed, but just pretty general,” he said. “How I looked at colleges, I went pros and cons. ‘This school school has this and it’s a pro. That school has this and it’s a con.’  “

They both obviously found enough ‘pros’ about Cal to lure them to Berkeley.

“For here, one was it was close to home, playing high level  football,” Craig said. “And then you throw in being the number one public university in the world. I don’t think it could get much better than that. It was basically a no-brainer. It had everything I was looking for. Plus the coaching staff is fantastic.”

Tattersall grew up a fan of Oregon where his father played, but he had pretty much the same attraction to Cal that Craig did. “First Cal is a great school and Granite Bay is just about an hour and forty five minutes north of Sacramento,” he said.

And having a pal takes the edge of whatever homesickness they might have. “We were good buddies in high school., but I think we’ve gotten closer in college rooming with each other. …It was a dream of ours to go play college football and the fact we can do it together is pretty cool.”

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High School Teammates Craig, Tattersall Thriving as Frosh

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