Chris Manderino's dream came true with 10 minutes, 41 seconds
remaining before halftime in his first collegiate football game
against visiting Baylor Saturday.
Manderino, UC Berkeley's starting fullback who starred at Newport
Harbor High, scored his first touchdown in the college ranks.
"It was amazing," he said. "It was a pretty awesome moment."
The touchdown symbolized Manderino's surprising rise to NCAA
Division I-A football.
How fitting. Manderino ran an out-and-up pattern, on his way to an
18-yard touchdown reception. After his senior season at Newport
Harbor, he received no Division I-A scholarship offers. He had just
rushed for 2,141 yards and 31 touchdowns as a tailback for the
Sailors in 2000. He also quarterbacked the 1999 Tars to the CIF
Southern Section Division VI title, then led Newport to the 2000
Division VI championship game en route to being named All-CIF and the
Newport-Mesa District Most Valuable Player.
But, not one scholarship offer.
So, Manderino went up to Berkeley and displayed his talents as a
walk-on. He was a redshirt his first year. He added 20 pounds and
impressed coach Jeff Tedford, who came over from Oregon, where he was
the Ducks offensive coordinator, looking to energize the Cal Bears'
"There's a whole attitude and a whole new system," Manderino said.
"We're expecting big things for this year. We definitely think
there's going to be a change from what has been here in the past."
Manderino broke through with a successful spring and fall camp. He
was awarded a full scholarship and named the team's starting
"They liked the way I was playing and I deserved the scholarship,"
Manderino said during a telephone interview hours after scoring his
touchdown. "I just worked hard in the spring. But I can't be content,
because if I was content, I wouldn't be getting better. I always want
to be better than the day before."
The scholarship is quite noteworthy, to say the least.
The NCAA banned Cal from a bowl game this year because of academic
fraud and recruiting violations. The Bears must surrender nine
scholarships over the next four years. To make matters worse, Cal
went 1-10 in Manderino's redshirt year.
The scholarship could have gone to a prize recruit. But to a
walk-on? Yes, a walk-on. And, Manderino is showing he deserved it.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound fullback extended to make an 18-yard catch
in the end zone to give the Cal Bears a 42-7 lead over visiting
Baylor, en route to a 70-22 win. Cal quarterback Kyle Boller set up
play-action, while Manderino beat Baylor linebacker Stephen Sepulveda
on the out-and-up, or chair, pattern.
"I don't know how to really describe it," Manderino said. "It
seemed to be in slow motion."
Manderino finished with three catches for 41 yards and the
touchdown against Baylor.
"It has been like a dream," Manderino said of his rise from
walk-on to NCAA Division I-A starter in the PAC-10. "I don't know if
it's luck or what. I'm really thankful right now. I'm really excited
for the season. I've got the opportunity and I'm looking forward to
taking advantage of it. I just want to help the team as much as I
Manderino and the Golden Bears host New Mexico State Saturday at