Merced's Sparks commits to Cal

December 20, 2007 

Jarrett Sparks is going to Cal.

Merced High's star receiver verbally committed to accept a football scholarship to the university during an official visit to the Berkeley campus last weekend.

"Coach (Jeff) Tedford was asking about the other schools," Sparks said. "He asked how close I was to making my decision. When I told him I was ready to commit, he was surprised.

"He said, 'Give me a hug, welcome to the family.' "

Sparks had received scholarship offers from Cal, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State.

"I think Cal just had the best mix of athletics and academics," Sparks said. "Not everybody's going to make the NFL. I have to train myself for my career."

Sparks, who plans to major in physical therapy, was named the Central California Conference MVP after leading Merced to a perfect run through the conference.

The senior led the team with 42 catches for 949 yards (a 22.6-yard average) and 14 touchdowns.

"Jarrett has been a tremendous player for us," Merced coach Rob Scheidt said. "We're going to miss him a lot and all the things he's given to our program.

"He has the speed and size and the fact that he can play all facets of the game. He often didn't get credit for his blocking. Cal is getting a complete football player."

Sparks lost count long ago of how many times people asked him where he was going to school. Friends, classmates, opponents and people he didn't even know seemed to be interested.

"Too many," Sparks said. "Everywhere I went, people asked. At first, I told them I didn't know. When it started to get on my nerves, I just told them Merced College."

Sparks had been leaning toward Cal during the entire recruiting process, though he did take official visits to Arizona State and Oregon State.

"I already knew I was probably going to commit there," he said. "It was just a matter of time."

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