Feature: Trajuan Briggs - Off to a running start
April 12, 2010
by Alexandria Cariaso
In his first few months, Trajuan Briggs, like other freshmen, is still figuring out how to get around campus. 'I'm still getting used to the streets and buses. I was taking the bus one time and I meant to take it to Morgan Hall and I ended up taking it all the way to Safeway.'
Armed with a good sense of humor, though, Trajuan laughs it off.
Calm and composed, the 5-11 214-pound tailback seems to be adjusting well to life as a 17-year-old early entry student-athlete who is taking part in Cal's current stretch of spring practices.. From adjusting to life in a new area to managing Cal's academic load, Trajuan is thriving and enjoying being a Golden Bear. 'It's been rough at first, but it's a good rough.'
Academically, Trajuan is managing the heavy reading load well, and he takes advantage of the resources Cal offers. 'Tutoring wise, I work the hours out pretty much and I put in a lot more quiet hours than they tell me to.'
He seems mature beyond his 17 years and his as exemplified by his conscientious actions academically. 'I'm still e-mailing teachers asking if I need to bring in a hard copy. They say it's fine, and I'm like `okay, just making sure.''
As for a social life, Trajuan says his focus is more on school and academics. 'I live in the dorms, at the stadium, up at the campus for a little bit and I'm right back to work.' It is clear that he has his priorities straight and that he knows what he has to do in order to perform well.
Trajuan has been that way since high school, especially after having suffered a season-ending injury while a senior at Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa near his hometown of Pacoima, Calif. After his injury, he had a lot of time to focus on his academics. 'All I had to do was be a full-time student and on all three report cards I received that following semester, I obtained a 3.8 GPA.' More than that, though, he 'gained a lot of knowledge, and mentally I'm stronger.' That commitment to academics is one Trajuan brought with him when he graduated from high school a semester early and arrived at Cal this spring.
That is not to say that Trajuan does not know how to have fun: he has gone paintballing with the guys on the team, he watches movies and grabs a bite to eat. And he likes to cook. When he arrived at his dorm, Trajuan jokes, 'It pretty much broke my heart because we didn't have a kitchen.'
Joking aside, Traujan admits that cooking is 'probably what he misses most' while who he misses most is his best friend - his mom. 'That's my best friend right there. We've been through a lot these past 17 years. She's the one I look up to. She's the one that's always been there. She's my everything.' She is also the one who put Trajuan in football when he was five as a way of channeling his high energy.
And since then, his talent has exploded. Trajuan has been compared to Marshawn Lynch, the former Cal Bear now playing for the Buffalo Bills and one of the strongest running backs in the National Football League. When asked about the pressure such a comparison could put on him, Trajuan admits, 'It's big. I'm not going to lie, it's sort of nerve-wracking especially when you see the guy play. He's like a man amongst boys out there.' But as flattered as he is, Trajuan says, 'I want to live up to [my own hype]. That's why they really recruited me and brought me here.'
That sort of clear-mindedness keeps Trajuan driven and focused both academically and athletically. 'As a student, I want to get over a 3.0 GPA. My academics right now are what I really have goals for.'
But, he also has plans for football.'The goal right now in football is just get on the field and contribute as much as I can and make an impact. I think that's going to be the goal for all four years.'
He has a full team of role models to look up to, particularly in teammate Jeremy Ross. Ross has been there for Trajuan from the beginning, bringing Trajuan to church with him during Trajuan's first week at Cal. For Trajuan, '[Jeremy's] just a great person to be around, he's always positive, he'll let you know when something's bothering him and he'll expect the same from you. He'll talk to you and also listen.'
What Trajuan admires most in Jeremy is 'this glow about him. It makes everyone know his presence is here. On the field he's this whole different guy who's out there working hard and everything. Then off the field or even stretching, you hear Jeremy clowning around and everyone laughing. He's a lively guy. You never really see Jeremy down or quiet.'
The other guys on the team are just as supportive, especially fellow tailbacks Dasarte Yarnway and Isi Sofele. 'They pulled me under their wing from day one as well. They taught me everything. We're all three running backs, we're all young, so we're all learning from each other.'
With all of the work he has been putting into school and football, Trajuan is looking forward to the upcoming season, especially that 'First game of the season, that first week of the season to see how much I have progressed and everything, how much I've been through. How much we've worked hard as a team from our 6:30 AM conditioning workouts to late night workouts to coming here every day, doing work and contributing and everybody making an impact. I'm just excited for that first day we step onto the field.'
With a supportive team, his determination to perform well in anything he does, and his huge talent, Trajuan is not the only one excited for that first game.