Make a list of all 94 players on Cal's spring roster, and it would be difficult to find many less likely to become a rapper than Alex Lagemann.
The wide receiver from upper class Saratoga doesn't exactly have the background to freestyle about the rough streets of the inner city or the problems facing the underprivileged.
But what he does have is a flair for the creative, and he has parlayed that into a growing sensation among college campuses on the West Coast, rapping about life as a 20-year-old student under the name of "Loggy."
"When you hear about a rapper, you don't really picture a dude like me," Lagemann said. "But then again, it just shows that as long as you have some talent, it really, really doesn't matter.
"If I were coming out talking about having a gun in my pocket, people would be like, 'Dude, are you kidding me?' But I'm talking about riding a beach cruiser on spring break, stuff that I actually do. So as long as I'm being truthful and real, I think it's fine. I'm being me and I'm being musical and I'm being creative — how bad can it be?"
In a span of just a few months, Loggy has become a rising star in the college community. In January, he released a mixtape called "Up All Night," which he recorded on a simple Web site on his laptop. He put it on his social networking pages and asked his friends to spread the word. In five days, the mixtape was downloaded 2,000 times.
Lagemann was simply a creative, industrious college kid doing something he enjoys with his free time. Now, he has become a celebrity. Loggy spent spring break on tour, doing shows at USC, UC Santa Barbara and Pomona College. Earlier this month, he opened for popular Bay Area rapper Pep Love for a show at the Montbleu Resort, Casino & Spa in South Lake Tahoe. He already has a few New York City shows lined up for the summer.
"He is getting offers left and right," said Thomas Cussins, owner of Berkeley-based Ineffable Music Group, which is helping Loggy manage his budding career. "Every major college has reached out to him. It's pretty phenomenal."
Lagemann first started thinking up raps when he was in middle school after being inspired by megastar rapper Eminem. He would write them down during long car drives to play in junior hockey games or simply while sitting in his room listening to music. He enjoyed all forms of writing — he would jot down short stories, poetry and yes, rap.
But it was never more than a form of leisure and a way to satisfy his creative juices until, with the urging of his closest friends, he decided to put together the mixtape.
"Before he put out his mixtape, he sat down and was just kind of freestyling. I was like, 'I think he's got something here,' " said Cal wide receiver Ian Albrecht, Loggy's manager and hype man. "We kicked out a beat and put out a song and it was really good. We showed all of our buddies on the team, and they told us to put more songs out. We did it and big things have happened since."
Loggy's DJ is Cal defensive end Mike Costanzo ("DJ Big Red"). Costanzo has had his own personal DJ business for the past eight years
"It sounded really good for someone who has never done it," Costanzo said. "The lyrics are awesome. Whether or not it gets bigger than it has, I don't know. But definitely if it continues to work out like this, there's no stopping the possibility of what we can do."
Loggy doesn't try to be someone he isn't in his lyrics. He doesn't pretend to face the same issues other rappers might. He touches on a variety of topics: "We Lounge" is about hanging out with friends and making music; "Hometown Heart" focuses on college students who miss girlfriends back home; "Here I Come" is about the pride he takes in being from California.
"I like to do positive stuff," Lagemann said. "A lot of my stuff has been driven by my friends and family. I try to be different but also relate to people."
Lagemann said his teammates have been hugely supportive. They've had Loggy's music on at times in the weight room, and many players have gone to see his shows.
"Nobody is going to put anybody's career down," wide receiver Marvin Jones said. "If he's a rapper, nobody is going to talk badly about it. We're a family, so you do whatever you want to do. Loggy is a smart guy, very intellectual. He has a lot of deep stuff to say. I like that he's a rapper."
Lagemann also set up a meeting with coach Jeff Tedford after his mixtape was released to assure him he is representing Cal football in the proper way and that it won't become a distraction.
"Alex is a pretty responsible guy," said Tedford, who added he's listened to some of Loggy's songs. "He's a good student. I don't think somebody has to be single-minded. If they have talents outside of football — if they have a gift, which he does — I'm fine with it, as long as it's a healthy thing."
Time will tell how big Loggy's rapping career will get, but he vows never to let it become bigger than football. Lagemann showed promise as a redshirt sophomore last season and figures substantially into Cal's plans for the 2010 season.
"This is something that I never want to get in the way of football and school," he said. "If it gets to be a bigger deal, I definitely realize it could weigh heavier on my stress level. But when it's football time, it's football time. That's why I'm here, to get my education and play some ball (Lagemann also was a Pac-10 All-Academic first-team selection last season)."
Cussins says Loggy could turn into something big. He pointed to rapper Asher Roth, who also began his career by releasing a mixtape on the Internet. Now, Roth has a major recording deal.
"He definitely has that talent and charisma to really get somewhere," Cussins said. "It's really taken off to where just the blog activity alone is pretty stunning. If he works and decides to put 100 percent of his time into his Loggy project, the sky is really the limit. He has all the ingredients that you need for success."