Cal offensive lineman Matt Summers-Gavin hasn’t had the easiest path to success in his three-plus seasons with the Golden Bears, but this year everything seemed to fall into place.
"To be able to play a full season is awesome," Summers-Gavin said. "Just to be in there with the guys, it’s a great feeling."
The former St. Ignatius standout had dealt with injuries, including a concussion, which cost him what would have been his freshman season and most of training camp during his sophomore season.
"Being injured is just terrible for anybody who’s been in it," Summers-Gavin said. "You’re on the team, but not really because you’re not contributing."
Now fully healthy, Summers-Gavin has played in each of the Bears’ 12 games this season and has helped Cal return to a bowl game after narrowly missing becoming bowl eligible last season.
"Being able to contribute and help with the victories we’ve had, the success we’ve had has been awesome," he said.
Summers-Gavin’s health has been helped along by strength and conditioning coach Mike Blasquez, who is in his first season with Cal.
"[Blasquez] got us into super good shape and that definitely helps, but sometimes you’re just unlucky," Summers-Gavin said. "You have to find a way to rebound from it and I think I have."
Not playing was not any fun for Summers-Gavin and last December when Cal missed a bowl game appearance for the first time since 2002, the rest of the team recommitted to return to the postseason.
"You recollect on that, but you also have to forget about it," he said. "It’s always something in the back of your mind. You kind of carry that chip on your shoulder."
He has been fortunate this season and is contributing on the scale he did in high school.
While at St. Ignatius, Summers-Gavin starred for the Wildcats and, during his senior season, helped them claim their first WCAL title since 1967.
He also grew up going to Cal football games and always held the Golden Bears in high regard.
"You kind of get more drawn to Cal, at least with the people I grew up around," he said. "It seemed like an amazing place."
He was offered a scholarship to Cal in 2007, but took some time and let other offers roll in, including Notre Dame, Nebraska and Oregon, before ultimately deciding on Cal.
"When I got recruited here, and visited here and found out what this place was all about, it was an easy decision," Summers-Gavin said.
With a season left of eligibility and Cal moving in the right direction, Summers-Gavin may not have seen the heights he and his team can reach.
Cal (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5)
WHEN: Wednesday, 5 p.m.
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
RADIO: KGO (810 AM)