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Merced star Sparks heading to Berkeley

Jarrett Sparks is going to Cal.

The Merced star receiver verbally committed to accept a football scholarship during his official visit to the Berkeley campus last weekend.

“Coach (Jeff) Tedford was asking about the other schools,” Sparks said. “He asked how close I was to making my decision. When I told him I was ready to committ, he was surprised.

“He said, ‘Give me a hug, welcome to the family.’”

Sparks had received scholarship offers from Cal, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State.

“I think Cal just had the best mix of athletics and academics,” Sparks said.

“Not everybody’s going to make the NFL. I have to train myself for my career.”

Sparks plans to major in physical therapy.

Sparks was named the Central California Conference MVP after leading Merced to a perfect run through the conference.

The senior led the team with 42 catches for 949 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“,” Merced coach Rob Scheidt said. “.”

Sparks lost count long ago of how many times people asked him where he was going to school.

Friends, classmates, opponents and people he didn’t even know wanted to know.

“Too many, everywhere I went people asked,” Sparks said. “At first, I told them I didn’t know. When it started to get on my nerves, I just told them Merced College.”Sparks had been leaning toward Cal during the entire recruiting process.He did take other official visits to Arizona State and Oregon State.

“I already knew I was probably going to commit there,” he said. “It was just a matter of time.

“But my mom hadn’t seen the facilities. That’s why I made the trip last weekend.”

Sparks plans to return to Berkeley during spring break so he can start learning Tedford’s offense.

Sparks is happy with his decision.

“All the coaches embrace you,” Sparks said. “They’re good dudes.

“They have three receivers leaving, so there’s a good chance to come in and play. They’re always ranked nationally.

“I had fun during the recruiting process. It could be a little stressful, but it really wasn’t.”

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at