Another big matchup right now. Two great footballers from the 2000s. DeSean Jackson versus J.J. Arrington. Only one can move on, however! Who is it going to be?
You can view the full bracket here. Voting ends this Friday at noon, so go and vote!
DeSean Jackson (1)
Perhaps no other skill player in Cal history instilled as much fear and respect into opposing defenses and special teams coverages as DeSean Jackson. Opening day starter as a true freshman. His first two career touches went for touchdowns against Sacramento State. Led the Bears in receiving as a sophmore with 59 catches for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns as set a Cal record with four punt returns for touchdowns. Perhaps his greatest play was a 77 yard punt return against Tennessee in 2007 that went for a touchdown. Some consider him an enigma during his Junior year, in which the Cal football team collapsed in the second half of the season, however, his overall body of work is not to be ignored. He departed holding Pac-10 records for punts returned for a touchdown both in a season (four), and in a career (six). Jackson ranks third all-time at California for receiving yards with 2,423 and receiving touchdowns with 22. He is sixth in receptions (162). Jackson finished with 52 career plays of 20 yards or more, making up 23 percent of his 226 touches.
J.J. 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.