The hats on the table should have been a clue, but, according to Brennan Scarlett, there wasn't any real thought behind having the Cal hat closest at-hand during his commitment ceremony late this morning.
"No, no," Scarlett laughed, "that's just the way it happened."
Scarlett had an inkling that he wanted to come to Berkeley since he made his first visit to the Bay Area.
"When I first visited, when I was first there, I felt like I was home," Scarlett said. "There was a lot of debating this last week between them and a few schools, but I knew in my heart that I wanted to be at Cal."
During his official visit to Cal on Nov. 20, Scarlett as he watched the Bears lose 48-14 to arch-rival Stanford - another of his finalists - he knew that this was the place he wanted to be.
"It was probably the biggest part of it all," Scarlett said. "I felt like I could relate to the players on the team and they were all pretty good guys, and humble, and I felt like that was just me. I felt like I'd fit in well."
The final score didn't mean so much to Scarlett as everything surrounding the 113th edition of the Big Game.
"It was just one game," Scarlett said. "What I was really focused on was more the atmosphere at the school, and I saw a lot of fan support. I think that's pretty important: having a lot of people at your games, and a lot of people rooting for you. That was what I liked about that game."
Next year, Scarlett will be teaming with former rival Jacob Wark, who played on the opposite side of Portland, Ore.'s "Holy War" between Jesuit (Wark's alma mater) and Central Catholic, but during Scarlett's official visit, the two made nice.
"Yeah, I've spoken with him, and he's a good guy," Scarlett said. "We got a chance to talk on the visit."
Scarlett will play defensive end and a little bit of outside linebacker for defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.
"We've talked a few times just about the position they'll have me at and how they'll utilize me," Scarlett said. "I'm happy with what he's saying, so we have a good relationship. I like his scheme a lot. You're almost guaranteed success. I shouldn't say 'guaranteed,' but the scheme, it puts you in a great position to be successful and make plays, and that's one of the things that I want.
"I played outside linebacker my freshman year when I was brought up (to varsity), but I've played middle linebacker the whole time, and D-end," Scarlett said.
His commitment puts the finishing touches on one of - if not the best - defensive line classes in the country, which also features defensive ends Todd Barr and Mustafa Jalil as well as defensive tackle Viliami Moala.
"I actually met Vei when we were on our visits to USC, and then also at the All-American game," said Scarlett, who had front-row seats as Moala committed to the Bears in the fourth quarter of the US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. "I was able to talk to him for a little bit. A bunch of the Cal guys were all sitting together on the bench, and I was talking with all of them. It helped me a lot."
But unlike those other defensive linemen, Scarlett was not recruited primarily by defensive line coach and ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi.
"My main recruiter was Ron Gould," Scarlett said. "Tosh recruited me for the past year, but Coach Gould has my region, and I've been seeing him since my freshman year. It'll be fine (not playing for Gould) because I'll see him around and if I ever need anything, he'll be there for me."
Scarlett has had his fair share of injury woes the past two seasons, with an ACL tear in his junior year and, most recently, a broken clavicle that kept him out of the All-American game last week.
"The broken collarbone, that happened when I was going up for a catch (as a tight end), and I caught it and as I was coming down, the guy poked it away," Scarlett said. "I went down to catch it by my waist, and all my weight and momentum came down on the shoulder wrong, and it just snapped. It was a bad one."
Scarlett's collarbone had to be repaired using a metal plate and screws, which, he says, may or may not be removed pending follow-ups with his doctor and the Cal medical staff.
Scarlett's torn ACL during his junior season occurred thanks to a sharp cut that Scarlett had tried to make, similar to the knee injuries sustained by 2011 running back commit Brendon Bigelow. But Scarlett had the benefit of his father Paul in his corner - a former BYU track athlete - helping him to rehab.
"That summer, immediately following the injury, my 40 times were really slow, like around 4.9 seconds," Scarlett said. "Over this past summer, I was able to get it down to 4.6, and that was my PR. I worked a lot with my dad. He helped to train me. He ran track in college, so he knows what to do and he helped me with my form and with my times."
One of the many reasons that Scarlett chose Cal was the school itself. Scarlett is currently taking AP Calculus and AP English and sports a 3.8 GPA.
"I'm actually not too sure what I want to major in, but I have an interest in medicine, and I like to write, so I'm actually not sure," Scarlett said. "I think I'm going into my freshman year and feel my way through."
Scarlett had planned on making his decision before the holiday break, but wanted to hear in-home pitches from his finalists, which would have included former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who recently left Palo Alto to take over as head coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
"Well, he was actually supposed to come for a visit to my house just a couple days before he made that decision, so when he didn't show up, I kind of suspected that," Scarlett laughed. "I guess I was the first one to know."
In the end, Scarlett made the decision that he knew he'd make in his heart all along.
"It was the place where I felt most comfortable, and I feel like I have the best relationship with the coaches there and I really felt that it was a place that I wanted to spend the next four years," he said.