Cal's Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan are both really good at football. That seems to be all they have in common.
Alualu and Jordan make up one of the best defensive end tandems in the country. Alualu, a senior, is on the watch list for the Lombardi Award, given to the best lineman in the country. Jordan, a junior, is considered a rising star with the potential to be a high NFL draft pick someday.
They both might be good at sacking a quarterback, but it would be difficult to find more distinctly different personalities off the field.
Alualu is the serious family man, already married with two children. Jordan is an oversized kid — all 290 pounds of him. Alualu is quiet and reserved. Jordan is the life of the party.
"In the end, they're both competitors," Cal defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi said. "They are both guys who are trying to get better, and they both practice hard with the intent of getting better. At the same time, they're pretty different off the field. But it's a good mix. I would never want a group where everyone represents the same thing."
If one of the appealing aspects of team sports is bringing people of all backgrounds and personalities together, Cal's football program has done the job with Alualu and Jordan. But the players appreciate their differences, and although they don't spend too much time together off the field, they clearly have a friendship in the locker room.
"We don't have the same
Jordan is immensely talented but at times has frustrated the coaching staff because his desire to have a good time has impeded his practice habits. After Cal's scrimmage during training camp, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory demoted Jordan to the second team because he played poorly. That didn't sit well with Jordan, who was back on the first team later in the week after a few dominant practices.
Jordan will never be as serious as Alualu, but he still considers him a role model.
"Tyson is always calm. He doesn't easily get rattled," Jordan said. "He always seems to know what to do. You play better when you have someone who is so well-respected around."
Alualu's free time is spent differently from most of his teammates. He spends it with his wife, Desire, 3-year old son, Tyree, and 1-year old daughter, Dereon. When he is with his teammates, Alualu usually is soft-spoken and stoic. But Lupoi and some of his fellow defensive linemen say he has a playful side that most people don't see.
"Tyson is very good at remaining straight-faced," Lupoi said. "He can surprise you at times with a joke where everybody else is laughing but him. That's when I usually know that Tyson is the one that cracked a joke. He's not laughing, but everyone else is."
Alualu said the only off-the-field activity he and Jordan might partake in together is some playful wrestling ("It's kind of like a stalemate until I give up," Jordan said). The entire defensive line unit went on a fishing trip during the offseason and sometimes will take in breakfast at Ann's Kitchen on Telegraph Avenue.
"We spend a lot of time together in the meeting rooms and on the field," Jordan said. "I have been relying on him ever since I came here. He leads me well."
While Alualu has a playful side, it would take some doing to find a serious side of Jordan. That's not to say he is not a hard worker. Jordan turns his zest for fun into energy on the field.
"Sometimes taking it serious takes the fun out of it for me," Jordan said. "I learn my plays and do what I do to remember my plays. After that, let's have some fun. I always crack a smile while we're out here working."
Note: Coach Jeff Tedford named true freshman Vince D'Amato as Cal's field goal kicker. Sophomore Giorgio Tavecchio will handle kickoffs.
Maryland, 7 p.m.