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.
Kodiak: We had the pleasure of meeting JJ during the spring game of his senior year. He was humble, well-spoken, and polite; he was such a nice young man that it made you want support him even more. He had the best burst of any back that we've seen. Although he didn't have Best's game-breaking speed, Marshawn's strength, Forsett's vision, or Igber's wiggle, he had a unique way of decisively hitting the hole that I've never seen before or since. We've seen shake n' bake. We've seen one cut n' go. JJ was GO. If not for being drafted by the inept Cardinals, I think he might have made some noise in the league. They took an instinctive runner and knee-capped him by forcing him into a wait/delay/read scheme that was a poor fit.
(11) Gennifer Brandon
NorCalNick: Simply put, the best rebounder I have ever watched at the collegiate level, no qualifications. Hell, she might have been better at rebounding than any other Cal basketball player has been good at any particular single basketball skill. And that ability was most notable in one of the most thrilling wins of the 2012-13 season:
Cal had one thing that USC didn't have: Gennifer Brandon. Her performance rescued Cal in a 71, 63, come-from-behind overtime victory.
Brandon is the best rebounder in Cal history, and it's not even close. I refer to her rebounding stats constantly in part because they always blow me away. If she played 40 minutes a game she would average 16 rebounds a game. When she is on the floor she rebounds 24% of the missed shots. For every 4 shots that miss, she will grab the ball once. She's probably the best rebounder in the country.
Today, she pulled down 26 rebounds, tying a school record. The Bears needed every single one of those rebounds, particularly the final rebound in regulation, in which Gen corralled Layshia Clarendon's missed jumper for the put-back to tie the game. That basket was the final shot to erase a 6 point deficit with just 1:42 left in the game. In that last 1:42, Gen pulled down 3 rebounds, stole a pass, sank four free throws and of course hit the tying basket. It wasn't ALL Gen Brandon, but it's as close as you can come in a game with 5 players on the court.
Gen was drafted by the Chicago Sky this spring as the 22nd overall pick.
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