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Manderino's first TD a dream

September 02, 2002

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

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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'

football program.

"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

fullback.

"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

can."

Manderino and the Golden Bears host New Mexico State Saturday at

3:30 p.m.

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