There's no harder player to rate than #17 on our 50 Greatest countdown. Steve Bartkowski is, of course, the only Golden Bear to be picked #1 in the NFL draft. No quarterback in the school's history possessed the arm strength of #10, who was reported by assistant coach Paul Hackett to have thrown a football 100 yards in the air at practices. Few if any players matched his overall athletic ability; Bartkowski was also a magnificent baseball player who made All-America as a 1st baseman in 1973.
In his senior year of 1974, Bartkowski put it all together once he got to work with Hackett, a punchline of a head coach who was nevertheless a gifted tutor of quarterbacks. He convinced Bartkowski to trade velocity for accuracy, and the results were spectacular. Despite playing through the pain of a separated shoulder, Bart led the nation with 2,580 yards passing and earned consensus All-America honors for the 7-3-1 Bears. He topped the 300 yard mark four times (Washington, WSU, UCLA, Stanford); each of those efforts came after the shoulder injury, suffered in a 31-14 upset win over #14 Illinois in Champaign. Bartkowski finished 10th in voting for the Heisman that year, and would almost surely have ranked higher had he received even a modest amount of pre-season hype.
2007 sucked. Everyone knows that. Team morale was frighteningly low. During the 6 game period known as the Callapse, it seemed like no one was showing up on a consistent basis. There are 2 main exceptions: Justin Forsett and Lavelle Hawkins. We had a much ballyhooed WR corp that year, being referred to by some as the best top 3 group in the nation. Lavelle Hawkins was definitely not the most talented. Yet he was easily the most dependable. Every single game Hawk did his job. Didn’t have particularly gaudy stats, but he averaged 6 catches a game during that stretch and I know I felt confident that he was going to have at least a solid game every time out. I appreciate Hawk for actually being consistent during that stretch when it seemed that no one else was (sadly, that team proved that bad morale and inconsistency are contagious, as witnessed by the drops. You know which ones I’m talking about). Hawk was one of the few bright spots on that team. He was, without question, the best receiver that year. Thanks Hawk.
Also his TD catch against USC is one of the most incredible catches I have ever seen. He literally flew. His nickname is Hawk for a reason.
Lavelle has gone on to have a very solid career in the NFL. He played for the Tennessee Titans for 5 years, joined San Diego last season, and reunited with Coach Tedford in April of this year.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.