We have another big matchup today, JJ Arrington v. Scott Fujita. Two great football players, but only one can move on! JJ Arrington beat Jon Zuber in the first round. Scott Fujita beat Thomas DeCoud in the first round.
You can read the whole bracket here. Voting ends this Friday at noon. Full write ups after the jump. GO BEARS!
Brick Mueller Regional
JJ Arrington (4)
Cal fans were understandably anxious to see what Arrington would do carrying the full workload in 2004. What he did was have the greatest season by any player in the history of Cal football. That's right. The greatest season ever.
In each of his 12 games, Arrington hit for at least 100 yards - the only back in America to make that claim. Against Air Force in the opener, he scored three times including an 89-yard run that set a Cal record. 3 more scores against NMSU, and then a couple of off games - 108 yards and a TD v Oregon State and 112 in the heartbreak loss to SC. Then J.J. got serious. UCLA was torched for 205 yards and two scores in the next outing, and then ASU, Oregon, Washington and Stanford all surrendered a touchdown and at least 120 yards to #30.
But J.J. Arrington, to us, defined himself in the rain and mud of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You recall the scene - the Bears needed a blowout win to impress the human pollsters and vault past Texas into the Rose Bowl. It was not to be, but Arrington moved heaven and earth to make it so, rushing 31 times for 261 yards, the most by a Cal back since 1954.
Arrington had an all time legendary season playing for one of our most prolific teams of the last half century. And he did it sort of out of the blue. I mean, we all knew that Arrington was good and had the potential to step in and do the job, but I don’t know that very many Cal fans expected that he would surpass the production of Echemandu’s 2003 season, much less run for 2,000 yards. I kind of expected the 2004 Bears to be all about Rodgers and G-Mac. It wasn’t.
Scott Fujita (5)
Coming out of high school, Scott Fujita was not seen as a Division I college football player - not one deserving of a football scholarship anyway. Some fifteen years later, one looks back at Fujita's career and sees not only a Division I football career at Cal, but a long NFL career and a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints.
Cal football walk-on to world champion
Fujita redshirted his freshman year, but not before blowing away coaches in his first camp by helping out the injury-plagued Bears at safety even though both of his hands were clubbed up with tape—one because it was broken, the other because of a nasty gash. The Bears gave him a scholarship the next spring, and he added 20 pounds to his 6'5" frame while switching from safety to linebacker. But as a sophomore in 1999, he was plagued by nerve stingers in his neck. Following the season, he had career-threatening surgery that put him in the ICU for three days and a neck halo for a week. That was March. By August, he was cracking skulls again in live practice drills. Two seasons later, he was among Cal's leading tacklers. "I call it Pat Tillman syndrome," says former Cal defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich, now at Texas Tech. "There are a few players you come across who give their heart and soul to the game. That's Pat Tillman, and that's Scott Fujita.
Off the field, as paleodan pointed out, "[r]epresents the Cal bleeding-heart liberal spirit in much of what he does, see: NFLPA, gays in sports, Hurricane Katrina aftermath." Indeed, Fujita has been outspoken about the lockout situation, has been an advocate for gay rights, and has tackled numerous philanthropic causes.