Nnamdi Asomugha is the true embodiment of a California Golden Bear. On the field, Asomugha propelled himself to become one of the top secondary players in football while at the University of California. Playing safety at Cal, Asomugha was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2003 with the 24th overall pick where he then became a cornerback. What a cornerback he would turn out to be. Since the first day, Asomugha has had to prove the doubters wrong. Many questioned whether or not he was worthy of the high selection, but he silenced all of them for good. After his eight-interception season in 2006, Asomugha earned the reputation of a being a shut-down cornerback. In 2007, one scout told Pro Football Weekly that Nnamdi Asomugha was thrown at "less than any defender in the last ten years." The following year, Nnamdi saw even less action. Opposing quarterbacks tested the top-notch corner a mere 27 times. Asomugha allowed only eight receptions all year. He's a unanimous All-Pro selection on every team and has earned the right to be called, undoubtedly, the best cornerback in the National Football League. He is, without question, the undisputed leader and the heart of the Oakland Raiders
Nnamdi Asomugha graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Finance in 2006. More importantly, philanthropy has been a huge area of focus for the pride of the Silver and the Black. He has been partners with the East Oakland Youth Development Center since 2004. He emphasizes the importance of education, hard work ethic on and off the field, a positive attitude, and a healthy diet.
In 2006, Asomugha launched an annual high school college tour program. Each year, he teams up with the East Oakland Youth Development Center to take students from Bay Area high schools on college tours across the country. Additionally, Asomugha distributes backpacks to the incoming freshmen each year at Narbonne High School in Los Angeles. He also outfits the football and basketball team with shoes, a mandate he wrote into an endorsement contract he signed with Nike.
Not only does Asomugha help within his community, he also helps in his mother's homeland of Nigera, since he's born of Igbo descent, an ethnic group in southeastern Nigeria.
Education and community service are his mainstays. Asomugha serves as Advisory Board Chair for his family's foundation, the Orphans and Widows In Need (OWIN) Foundation. Through OWIN, Asomugha and his family provide food, shelter, medicine, vocational training, literacy efforts, and scholarships to widows and orphans victimized by poverty or abuse in Nigeria.
To top all of that off, Asomugha met with former president Bill Clinton to discuss the importance of global service and student activism at the Clinton Global Initiative University.
President Clinton's youth initiative designed to challenge college students to take action on some of the most pressing global issues in areas such as education, poverty and global health Here are some of the awards that Nnamdi Asomugha has been noted for off of the football field. Outstanding Community Service Nomination (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) Commitment to Excellence Award (2006) Commitment to Excellence Award (2007) Home Depot Neighborhood MVP (2007) Sports Illustrated 2008 Sportsman of the Year (2008) "Do Right Men of 2008" by Essence Magazine (2008)
Nnamdi retired this past December to close out a long, productive career.
Probably, within the context of softball, Jolene's workload is less insane looking. But from someone raised in the era of strict MLB pitch counts and constant horrific pitching injuries, I have always had trouble comprehending how it is possible for Jolene Henderson to pitch as much as she pitches.
Freshman: 192.2 innings
Sophomore: 333.1 innings
Junior: 282.1 innings
Senior: 286.2 innings (despite an injury that kept her out a few weeks.)
The softball season lasts about 4 months. Jolene was throwing significantly more innings over 4 months than most major league starting pitchers would throw over 6 months. In 2011, with Valerie Arioto injured and out for the season, and as a result Jolene pitched 87 percent of the available innings.
OK, so we've established that she has an indestructible rubber arm. But just being able to throw a ton of pitches doesn't mean much if they aren't good pitches.
They were the best pitches. During that insane sophomore season Jo finished with an ERA of .99 despite carrying the burden of pitching nearly every competitive inning available. And her workload didn't come back to haunt her in the playoffs (when she, of course, pitched every inning). She just kept right on dominating all the way to the softball World Series.
I've always wondered if the reason that Jolene can throw so many innings without any obvious impacts to her effectiveness is because of her best pitch: the change-up. I haven't seen a ton of Cal softball games, and yet I still feel like I've watched batters swing over the top of way out in front of her change-up more times than I can count. Maybe the arm action (and not having to constantly throw as hard as you can) on a change-up allows her to stay fresh. Maybe I'm just fishing for plausible explanations for the unexplainable. Either way, her change-up sits right up there with Rob Nenn's slider and anything Yu Darvish as my favorite pitches to watch.
She departs Cal as perhaps the best pitcher since the legendary Michelle Granger (who, looking at the record books, compiled even more insane numbers.) A mid-season injury this year likely prevented her from attacking some of the more hallowed career pitching records that Granger still holds. It's a shame that her injury prevented her from dominating this year like she did earlier, but it does nothing to diminish her resume as a Bear.
And the most important part of her resume? Without Jolene, Cal doesn't achieve two College World Series appearances and one Pac-12 title.
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