Chase Zamora pulled off his helmet and there it was in full view.
A beard several weeks' worth of facial hair growth to further signify his switch of allegiances.
Zamora is no longer a slot receiver. Skill guys, the Sacramento City College sophomore explained before practice Thursday, do not bear beards.
"Nah, they're too clean-cut," Zamora said. "We linemen, we can look like this. Just let it grow."
Zamora could be the area's most versatile college football player, switching from receiver to the trenches. Zamora has started at right tackle, and today at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, he will get his first shot at right guard as the Panthers seek to extend their four-game winning streak. At 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, Zamora looks the part of a lineman. He is also the Panthers' backup at long snapper and punter. If Sac City featured a tight end, he'd be that guy, too.
Versatility has been Zamora's calling card since his Elk Grove High School playing days, and it will be his ticket to a scholarship at a four-year school. UNLV, Fresno State and Utah State have expressed a lot of interest.
At Elk Grove, Zamora had starting assignments at wide receiver, tight end, fullback, quarterback, defensive end, linebacker, punter, kicker and long snapper. Zamora said he'd gladly try some cornerback duty this season if he weren't so clumsy backpedaling.
"I'm finding out that colleges like guys who can play different positions, and playing line helps me with blocking because I'll probably play tight end at the four-year level," Zamora said.
What especially impresses the Sac City coaches is Zamora's willingness to even consider the offensive line. How many skill players tap their coach on a shoulder and suggest a position switch?
"Never seen it in all my years at any level," said Sac City line coach Dave Hoskins, a regional coach at all levels since the mid-1960s. "Some tight ends can block, but they can't catch or run. He can do all three. Some tight ends are slugs. He's no slug. Chase has outstanding feet and hands, and he's willing to play anything. If I'm a recruiter, I notice."
Zamora, indeed, is no slug nor is anyone in his family. His father, Arnie, a former bodybuilder, runs the family-owned Nor Cal Fit Health Club in Galt. Zamora's mother, Lisa, runs the Nor Cal Fit outlet in Elk Grove. Zamora's older brother, Charlie, owns and operates Warriorz Health & Fitness, a spot in Elk Grove that draws scores of local high school and college athletes. And there are Zamora brothers Christian, Clayton, Curtis and Caeden, all fitness fanatics.
No slugs in this family.
"No way," Chase Zamora said with a laugh. "We're always in the gym. It's a way of life, like football."
Lance Briggs was back in Elk Grove on Friday to visit family and to watch the Thundering Herd play at Grant.
The seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker, on his bye week with the Chicago Bears, has returned an interception for scores in his past two games. Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon was the team's offensive coordinator in 1998 and enjoyed feeding his fullback Briggs the ball. Elk Grove rampaged to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship at 14-0 with Briggs setting playoff rushing and scoring records.
Said Briggs recently, "I'd love to have one more handoff, maybe a goal-line play. I'd get in. I know I would. I've still got it."
Said Nixon on Thursday: "I'll put Lance in the game and lock him on (Grant recruit receiver) Trayvon Henderson. I think he's got a few interception returns for touchdowns left in him."