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Jack of all trades, master of a ton: Jaydn Ott’s journey to always be No. 1

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JONATHAN HALE | SENIOR STAFF

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NOVEMBER 18, 2022

One is the only number that occupies the exact same binary and Roman numerals. 

 

One is the rails on a monorail, the position the top song on the charts occupy, the identifying characteristic of a solo act — the lone wolf. 

One is the first odd number, an integer that is neither prime nor composite. One is its own factorial, one is its own square and square root and its own cube and cube root … 

One is the only number divisible by precisely one exact positive integer — itself: one. 

And one, consequently, is the number etched — no embedded, into the mind and being of Cal running back Jaydn Ott. 

There is a saying that goes “you either have it or you don’t.” 

 

A ballerina with naturally curved limbs, a swimmer with perfectly-angled strokes, a basketball player with genetically given height — some might argue that a facet of one’s body adds to the possibility of professional athletics. Maybe they worked for it, maybe they were born with it — regardless of where it came from, the proficiency and compatibility of one’s body to their sport is analyzed by coaches, fans and even players themselves. 

How far can one push their body until it threatens to bend the wrong way? 

Where the power of the human body ends, the need for determination and an athletic mind begins. 

Not only did Jaydn Ott display a physical ability that was to be admired, but his desire to push himself to the peak of number one was a quality that, one can argue, he was born with. 

In a world where the either have-it-or-you-don’t talent that separates the second string from the first — the inner ability to succeed on the athletic field, turf, court or green was present in Ott in spades, so much so that his journey to professional football began at the ripe old age of 4. 

“I was four years old. And then, once I turned five I finally started playing tackle football,” Ott said. 

At 4 years old, the spark for professional athleticism shone brightly in a young Jaydn Ott. 

Ott found himself among the children throwing the ball around for fun and for an after school activity parents hoped would become their newest hobby or a notch on their college application resumé — but stood with a potential to make the field his own and a characteristically Jaydn smile that could conquer all. 

“I was just running all over the place and people couldn’t catch me and so I enjoyed it,” Ott reminisced. 

The desire to play football wasn’t just randomly conceived one afternoon, off the cuff for an up-and-coming Jaydn Ott — it was planned for, prepped for and hoped for. Whereas the collegiate journey often begins during an athlete’s freshman year of high school, Ott began working towards Division I right after elementary school. 

“In eighth grade I ended up going to this school called Winner Circle where they really prepare you for trying to become a collegiate athlete and succeeding in high school,” Ott said. “We would get to school in the morning and do three hours of working out and then have lunch. And then after lunch, we got a little break and then did three hours of school.” 

Vigorously laying the groundwork for a career in football during middle school, Ott graduated into ninth grade, and as a freshman in high school, began to make waves as a potential for many interested teams. 

Attending Norco High School, a young Jaydn Ott could be seen closely watching film of USC’s Travis Dye, a fellow Norco running back and perhaps getting a glimpse into his future in the world of collegiate football. 

“I went to high school in Norco with another Pac-12 running back: Travis Dye was at USC. I mean, he wasn’t there, but you know, he was a freshman and in college when I was a freshman in high school,” Ott said. “I got to watch his film and I looked up to him.” 

Looking up to him didn’t last long, however. In a couple of years, Jaydn Ott, a highly sought-after running back, was getting collegiate offers left and right. 

“After the senior season, I received some offers, a couple offers started pouring in,” Ott said. “So when I first came to Cal, that was my first official visit. I loved it. Ended up coming in two weeks after my visit. I knew it was a place I wanted to be.” 

For an athlete, getting offers solidified that your athletic ability has reached new heights. And while that can be overwhelming, it is also exciting. Visiting Cal was Ott’s first trip as a potential recruit — anywhere. After he committed, no matter how certain he was in donning the blue and gold, there was a feeling of disbelief. 

Considering his options, Ott decided to take the rest of his visits. 

“I decommitted because I wanted to take visits to other schools. I just knew I wanted to be here, but I didn’t believe that. I didn’t want to believe it … And then in the end, I realized I had made the right decision in the first place,” Ott said. “So I ended up coming back and committing again.” 

The choice felt that much better and that much sweeter once other options were explored. Confident in heading up to Strawberry Canyon and playing Division I football at the University of California, Berkeley, Jaydn Ott solidified his base in the Bay. 

The stereotype of dumb jock is not only one one that Ott does not identify with, but one those close to him would not prescribe that moniker to him either. 

 

“I’m not like a dumb jock,” Ott laughed. “I wouldn’t say.” 

The desire to be No. 1 is not reserved for athletics, in fact Ott doesn’t only show up and show out on the gridiron — but everywhere else as well. 

“I’m not even sure where it comes from, but my favorite emoji is the number one medal. I use that a lot because, actually my favorite number is number one and I have worn that like starting out playing football.” Ott mentioned. “A little bit of it might come from my dad. He has always said. ‘You need to be number one in everything you do.’ And so that’s just how I attack anything: School, football, cooking.” 

On the field, in the classroom, cooking up a storm, Ott truly does it all. And while some say that a “Jack of all trades is a master of none,” this starting Cal running back can comfortably be described as a master of a ton. 

Planning to matriculate into the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a math prodigy, the quintessential football player glued to his cleats is not the image one may picture when imagining the running back. And inclination to try anything, everything and all that there is in between seems to be attributed to his mother. 

“My mom tried to try to get me to delve into other things. She even went as far as, the year before I went to Winner Circle, she enrolled me in a performing arts school,” Ott said. “And so I was doing ballet, I was doing hip hop, I was doing Cirque, I was playing guitar, I did drums.” 

Ballet is a pastime enjoyed by football players in search of balance while trying to make a leaping catch or staying upright while the opposition tries to tackle them to the ground, However, Ott’s participation in it probably spurred inspiration for his four younger sisters — the older sibling position solidified Ott as one to look up to. 

I have four younger sisters, I’m the oldest. Everything I do — I want to be No. 1 so that I’m setting an example to my younger sisters to be number one in everything that they do,” Ott said. “Be meticulous about the details and the rest will all work out.” 

The Cal running back not only aims to be number one for himself, but for those that look up to him. Whether it is academics, athletics or cooking up a storm — Ott can be seen perfected his proficiency in all of the above. 

Some say EDM, or Drake; I have even heard the odd “country folk, soft and smooth.” I am yet to hear Taylor Swift, but rest assured I sit with bated breath hoping for that day. 

 

Jaydn Ott, however, can be seen drowning his ear drums with Ice Cube pre-game, and even in such a presumably nerve-wracking, sweat-inducing environment, the Cal running back is probably — actually without a doubt — walking around with a smile on his face. 

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that I always have a smile on my face. Sometimes people will come to me: ‘Why are you smiling right now?’ ” Ott chuckled. “I’m just always happy. Even when I’m having a bad day, I’m still smiling because there’s always something to be happy about.” 

Smiling on the field of Memorial Stadium or smiling in class or smiling as he volunteers with middle schoolers — throwing a football around with them at recess, or helping them with their homework, it is not beyond a shadow of a doubt the Jaydn Ott possess the potential to smile as bright as he does on the gridiron of a professional NFL stadium.

“My goal has always been to make it to the next level in the NFL,” Ott said. 

The former 4-star recruit has already notched six rushing touchdowns as a true freshman this season. The idea that Cal running back Jaydn Ott will grace the big stage in the big leagues is, as of now, entirely in the realm of possibility — in fact, it is expected for the up and coming star. 

As a freshman, Ott has immense amounts of college football to add to his repertoire and chest of experience, yet the potential of being at the top is the only thing he sees as he runs and pushes through player after player towards the first yard line, towards the first down, towards No. 1. 

Cal starting running back Jaydn Ott. NFL star running back Jaydn Ott. 

Doesn’t seem like that far of a jump, in fact — has a nice ring to it.  

Contact Maria Khan at 

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NOVEMBER 18, 2022