Ex-Wilson standout likes education, facilities, coaches at Cal

Education entered into Joey Mahalic's decision to attend the University of California-Berkeley as much as football, the former Wilson High standout said Friday night.

'As a 23-year-old, you realize a little more than you were 18 how important an education is,' said Mahalic, who will walk on as a quarterback with the Bears next season. 'I wanted to go to a top school, and Cal is the top public college in the country according to many.'

The 6-4, 225-pound Mahalic, who ended a 4 1/2-year pro baseball career as a pitcher this spring, will walk on at Cal and use funds from major league baseball's education fund for the upcoming school year.

Mahalic, who has already been admitted to school, will meet with the athletic department's academic coach on Monday to work out details that he hopes will allow him to start school with summer term.

Mahalic, an outstanding quarterback while at Wilson, was impressed with Cal's facilities - including a $350 million new football stadium as well as a $150 million athletic complex - and the staff of head coach Jeff Tedford.

'Exceptional coaches,' Mahalic said, 'and coach Tedford is great with developing quarterbacks. You know you're in good hands with a mind like that.'

Mahalic, who enters Cal as a true freshman, hopes to follow in the footsteps of such as Chris Weinke of Florida State and Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State, both pro baseball players before they began their college football careers. Weinke was 28 when he was drafted and played seven years in the NFL. Weeden, 28, was a first-round pick by Cleveland in the April NFL draft.

'A ton of guys are going back after playing pro baseball,' Mahalic said, 'and a lot of them are quarterbacks. They've been successful in part because they're older and more mature, showing leadership and being responsible, and still athletic. You're playing with kids and you're kind of a man. It's really a great fit.'

Returning at quarterback for the Bears is senior Zach Maynard, the starter a year ago. Also joining the program is ballyhooed Zach Kline, a 6-2, 195-pound true freshman out of Danville, Calif., the East Bay offensive player of the year who threw for 3,630 yards and 37 touchdowns as a senior.

'I don't know their plans for me next season,' Mahalic said. 'I'm sure it depends on if I can get in there and make an impact' during training camp.

Mahalic has been training with athletic trainer Matt James since being released by the Cleveland Indians during spring training. Mahalic said James timed him in the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds this spring.

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