This is the way college football careers are supposed to end.
Berkeley resident Ben Hawk Schrider spent three seasons at a pair of FCS schools thousands of miles from home (Richmond and Chattanooga) before arriving as a graduate transfer at Cal, the college he admired and followed growing up.
He came as a walk-on this year, earned a scholarship in preseason camp, received considerable playing time, and now is scheduled to make his second Cal start in his final college game -- the Redbox Bowl against Illinois (6-6) on Monday afternoon in Santa Clara. (He also started against Utah earlier this season.)
Whether he will actually start will depend on the defensive alignment Cal uses against Illinois' spread offense, but with starting outside linebacker Tevin Paul not able to play, Schrider is listed as a starter at outside linebacker on this week's depth chart.
"It's just a dream," said Schrider,a graduate of St. Mary's College High School in Berkeley. "Growing up I watched Cal go to bowl game after bowl game after bowl game.
"Last year, we had a Cheez-It Bowl party with my family. We had all different kind of Cheez-Its out."
For some playing in a bowl game close to home may be a disappointment, but Schrider loves it. He expects to have 50 to 60 family members and friends at the game to be played at Levi's Stadium.
"First-year bowl game you sort of want to go somewhere," he said, "but I was all in on San Francisco. It's like a vacation right here in my backyard."
The team left Thursday afternoon to relocate in San Francisco for the final four days before the game on Monday. He has been to Alcatraz, although he is eager to go again this weekend when the team vistis that landmark. However, the big prize of the bowl experience for Schrider will be attending Friday's Golden State Warriors' game against the Phoenix Suns at the Chase Center.
"I'm excited about that," he said. "I'm a die-hard Warriors fan. I'm all in for the Warriors, no matter what. I'm a big believer. I think the Warriors make the playoffs this year. They're 6 1/2 games behind the eighth seed right now with 50 left, so we'll see what happens, but I'm excited about it."