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Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer
As with any future NFL quarterback, a lot has been written about Cal's Nate Longshore, however, one key attribute has been widely missed. He's hilarious. "He tries to play that serious cat with you guys, but with us, he just cuts up," receiver Lavelle Hawkins said. "He's always got us laughing." A great sense of humor is more apt to be claimed on a Web site dating service than in a college football media guide, but for the Bears, Longshore's jokes are of the utmost importance. With team rankings and individual publicity abounding, the would-be pressure is seemingly erased by Longshore's ability to keep his teammates calm. With a bevy of offensive weapons, who all want the ball equally, Longshore's humor appears to keep everybody smiling instead of counting touches. "It's not easy to be a leader, because sometimes you can be too rigid and sometimes you can be too giddy," coach Jeff Tedford said. "Nate has a very good demeanor in the middle. He has an ear for (the receivers), but he also knows what he has to do and how to follow the reads." Tedford said he didn't recognize Longshore's humor until this season. Longshore said that was by design as he played the kid-in-church role early in his career.
"I didn't want him to think I was a jokester or that I didn't know when to be serious," Longshore said. "When I was joking around, I knew how to put the attentive face on every time he looked at me." There's a new comfort level now. In his second season as a full-time starter, the trust between coach and quarterback is unquestioned, and it leads to Longshore being able to showcase his comedy routines. Longshore showed up to camp with blue hair to keep the "dog days" light. After introducing the offensive starters for the ABC broadcast of the Cal-Tennessee game, he turned to someone off camera and said, "I was too serious; my Mom's going to be so mad at me." He's even started a blog (nate9blog.com) to show some inside information about the life, times and humor of collegiate athletes. "Our offense has to be loose and comfortable," he said. "I can't name a serious guy on our offense, so it wouldn't be right to be all square. That wouldn't work to our benefit." Hawkins and receiver DeSean Jackson both joked about Longshore messing up lyrics to their favorite raps songs, but he turned the comedy back their way. "They come up with terrible songs. You can't rhyme football and football." Tailback Justin Forsett talks about Longshore joking in the huddle during a key, clock-eating drive against Tennessee, and the quarterback quips back that "Justin wouldn't let me finish my story before I called the play."
Receiver Robert Jordan has his funny stories, too, but he doesn't want the story to get twisted. "He lets us laugh, but he puts us in our place, too," Jordan said. "He sat us down for like two hours before the season and told us not to worry about who was getting the ball. When he looks at us like that, we pipe it." There are other serious matters for Longshore. He got engaged during the offseason, is planning a wedding next summer and could set his family up for life by leaving school early for the NFL draft. He said he talked to Michigan quarterback Chad Henne about his insurance plan, which protects against injury and decreased draft value, but has chosen not to pursue it. "The way I see it: Everything finds its place on its own," Longshore said. "I'm comfortable without thinking that far ahead. There's no need to give myself any extra burdens right now. "I've got enough to worry about this weekend." Actually, statistics show that Longshore may be set for a career day against Louisiana Tech on Saturday. The Bulldogs have allowed opponents to complete nearly 65 percent of passes for 412 yards a game. Last week, Hawaii's Colt Brennan completed 43 of 61 passes for 548 yards and four scores. "I've seen the numbers, but Colt and Hawaii don't count," Longshore said. "He's going to put up 1,000 yards one day, and I'll have to send him a Christmas card or something."