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Vote For Your Favorite Cal Athlete of the Decade!

Your ten nominees are the following: Jahvid Best (10 recs); Allison Stokke (9 recs); Zack Follett (9 recs); Marshawn Lynch (8 recs), Aaron Rodgers (7 recs), Jerome Randle (6 recs), Natalie Coughlin (6 recs), Joe Igber (6 recs), Alex Mack (5 recs), Leon Powe (4 recs).

Missed the cut: Mike Mohamed (2 recs), Ryan Anderson (2 recs), Thomas Decoud (2 recs), Ayinde Ubaka (2 recs), Richard Midgley (1 rec), Desean Jackson (1 rec). [Jeff Tedford (7 recs) is a coach and was not counted in this poll.]

Vote for your athlete! It'll end next Wednesday at noon. After the jump, check the profiles on each and reminisce a little.

1. Aaron Rodgers:

1. Love: Of course we love him. He set the impossibly high standard to which we (unreasonably) hold our QBs. He led the best Cal offense of the decade, which was part of the best Cal team of the last 50 years. He was a cool, composed, and a great competitor. And he had swagger. We hadn’t had a QB with that type of swagger since Pawlawski and we really haven’t had one since.

2. Favorite moments: There were so many. I’ll always remember his deadly accurate passing, displayed time and again; his 23 completions in a row at USC in 2004; his frozen rope TDs to G-Mac; his crowd surfing after the 2004 Big Game win, just to name a few.

3. Desert island: Yeah, if I were stuck on one, I’d want to wear an Aaron Rodgers number 8 jersey and watch highlights of the 2003 and 2004 season . ~Ohio Bear

2. Alex Mack

Not only did I sit next to him on an airplane he was an awesome player to have on o-line. ~aee07

I have so many memories of Mack that it's hard for me write something coherent (ok, I rarely write anything coherent, so harder than usual). I guess it starts back in 2005 around the Vegas bowl. Some may not remember but we had a really good center before Mack, Marvin Philip. Philip started every game in 2004 & 2005, finishing 2004 as an AP second team All-American and 2005 as an AP first team All-American, in addition to being named Cal's offensive MVP (for comparison's sake, Mack was only a third team AP All-American this year). Despite the prospect of losing our All-American center to graduation, I remember telling anyone who would listen (and not too many people will listen to you talk about back-up centers, especially in Vegas) about a redshirt freshman named Alex Mack who was apparently mauling people in practice. It's not too often that you can feel comfortable losing a first team All-American, but that's what Mack did.

I remember playing Tennessee at Memorial on NCAA Football 2007 and having Alex Mack pull and take out two guys to spring Forsett for a touchdown...and a few days later watching Mack take out THREE guys on almost an identical play (0:51 on the video) during the actual game. I remember Mack eliminating two WSU players to spring Forsett for a 40 yard TD against the Cougs (2:02 on the same video), our only win in 7 games and perhaps my favorite single play from the 07 season. I remember asking Mack after the USC game that year if he would be coming back in '08, and hoping that "I don't know, man" would become a yes. I remember watching Mack run around the sidelines after the Emerald Bowl, slapping hands and thanking everyone that could get close enough to him as he tried to extend his Cal career for another 15 minutes. ~CBKWit

3. Allison Stokke (because this is the Internet, and the Internet is full of perpetual horndogs): Evidence 1 from Maisbikkja, evidence 2 from daveman.

I'm sure she's a sweet girl and is about to break out with huge athletic accomplishments, but vote for her at your own peril.

4. Jahvid Best:

So many reasons why he is my favorite, but you could just tell when he was a freshman that he was special. When he touched the ball, there was just a spark and energy. Whenever I saw him on the field, I ended up watching him, even on special teams. I loved it that he went all out as a gunner, and how awesome was it that he had to rapidly switch jerseys to get back in the game on offense.

Jahvid was the first Cal jersey that I just had to buy. I got it shipped to me right before the Washington State game and I was hyping him up to all my friends that were watching the game with me and when he broke off that 80yrd TD run, I went nuts.

After the Washington game later that season, I got hammered and passed out after the game. All my friend were making fun of me, but my defense was, "Jahvid ran for 300 yrds! 300 yrd! of course I passed out after that!"

Finally, he is such a humble and nice guy that it makes it easy to cheer for him. ~beson

5. Jerome Randle

I’m going with Randle. He was the heart of this past season’s team. He helped make my freshman college basketball experience an unforgettable one. The only bad thing is that now I have high expectations… ~GeoFreak

His complete transformation from skittish turnover machine under Braun to dependable team leader with unlimited swagger under Monty was pretty incredible. His swagger (in addition to his anywhere-within-halfcourt range) is what made him so much fun to watch. You could see him dribbling around and knew he was thinking "Bomb a 3 from 35 feet away? Fuck it, I’m Jerome Randle, this is going in." It is definitely going to be a rough next year or 2 for Cal basketball, but I’m not going to complain after being spoiled with 2 years of Jerome Randle at his best. ~rollonubears

6. Joe Igber

Joe Igber. My all-time favorite Cal running back. Often overlooked, his name litters the pages of Cal’s record books.

- His 3,124 career rushing yards are the third most in Cal history. Only Russell White and Marshawn Lynch can claim more.

-His 2002 rushing total of 1,130 yards was the 3rd highest single-season total in Cal history (at that time)

His greatest performance: a 226-yard, one-touchdown performance in the 2002 Big Game, which Cal won 30-7. Not only did he set the record for most rushing yards in the history of the Big Game (which still stands), he helped bring the Axe back to its rightful home after a painful 7-year drought.

These accomplishments alone should be enough to garner him consideration. And while these are all great reasons to appreciate Joe Igber, I’m most impressed with him because his career typified what we strive for Cal to be. You see, Igber somehow managed to balance the workload of a star Pac-10 running back with the workload of becoming a civil engineer.

Now, most people can barely handle one of those challenges. We all know how time consuming and stress inducing engineering majors are – between physics/math/engineering courses, labs, projects, research (if you’re ambitious) – it’s more than enough for most of us. UC Berkeley is one of the best (and toughest) places in the world to study engineering. People come from all over the world to study engineering at Cal, and that reputation is well-deserved, and it was the main reason that Joe Igber decided to come to Cal in the first place.

Also, we’ve all heard about how much time, sacrifice, dedication it takes to play Pac-10 football, let alone be a starter – the practice, the training, and weight rooms, the film, the travel. Add to the that the pressure of being the star running back, and you’ve got yourself a full plate that very few have the patience and focus to handle.

On top of even that – to perform at the level that Joe Igber did, to set records and do things on the field no Golden Bear has ever done, while handling that academic workload – it’s just ridiculous.


7. Leon Powe:

Already demanding notice after setting a tournament record with 20 rebounds in avictory over USC the previous night, Leon Powe had what is probably his signature game at Cal during the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament. Seventh-seeded Oregon was fighting for its season; with a 15-17 record, the Ducks knew there would be no postseason for them if they didn’t win the Tournament. Still, they had managed to beat hapless Washington State and then upset second-seeded Washington the next night, and early on, it looked like they might pull off their improbable run to the title game, sprinting out to a 32-16 lead in the first half. Then they ran into Leon Powe.

Of course, it took a team effort from the Bears to battle back from a 16-point deficit, including trailing by 7 with less than 3 minutes to go, but it often seemed that most of that team effort involved feeding Powe in the low post over and over and over again. And why wouldn’t they? The man was virtually unstoppable that night, shooting 14 of 17 from the floor and 13 of 18 from the line. You don’t really need an offense when you have Leon Powe, but the Bears did need every one of his tournament-record 41 points (and two overtimes) to hold off the Ducks in a game that had me (alone at home) screaming at my television and nearly convinced me to drive down to LA for the final. These Bears should have been upset, but Powe put them up on his back and barreled them into the final virtually singlehandedly. ~ragnarok

8. Marshawn Lynch:

I know that some of us are not so Marshawnthusiastic after his bad behavior off the field in the NFL, but Marshawn is still my favorite Golden Bear of the Decade. He was obviously completely out of his mind, but he played hard, and had so much character that I find him unforgettable. In particular, I think of all the tackles he broke on astonishing runs. There were so many plays where he literally dragged a defender along, or high stepped right out of an ankle tackle. And you can’t forget the "shining 365 days a week" and the ghost-riding the injury cart, which were both awesome. Jahvid and Desean were (are) great, but Marshawn is still my favorite. ~paleodan

He is my username inspiration. From his never-say-die running style to his fun personality, Marshawn epitomized Cal. He was the heart and soul of our team from 2004 through 2006. In that time frame, we went an incredible 28-9. Cal had two shots at undisputed conference championships. And, although our Golden Bears were never able to break through, nobody could blame Marshawn. He is Cal’s second leading rusher, second all-time in touchdowns, and first all-time in stiff arms.

When Marshawn left Cal after his junior season, I was pretty disappointed. Just think how his presence would’ve helped us in 2007! But, all was forgotten when he was drafted by my hometown Buffalo Bills, sending me running like a madman up and down my hallway for about 15 minutes. Things haven’t worked out in Buffalo, but it doesn’t change how I feel about Marshawn at Cal. I wear his jersey with pride.

Family first. Beast mode. ~BeastMode

9. Natalie Coughlin:

Doesn’t Natalie Coughlin seem like a natural for the desert island? First of all, she’s Natalie Coughlin. Second of all, she could swim you off the island if you don’t get along or get sick of the tropical life. ~need4jahvid

11 Olympic Medals, 3 Olympic Gold medals, Holds numerous US records and set numerous world records ~BeastMode

10. Zack Follett:

Wow, I’m really surprised nobody’s gone with Pain Train yet. I mean, he was one of my favorites from the ziger stripes the one year. And the bit in the WaZoo game where he scooped up the blocked kick and scored. And taking Rudy Carpenter down. And the woodcuttings. And all the stuff he’s done afterwards. Just…yeah. Pain Train. What else is there to say? ~katster

I’d say Zack Follett. The man was inspiration for a team that, without him, probably would not have made it to the Emerald Bowl and won it in 2008. That was his high point in Cal lore IMO.

Also, he was a downright inhumane linebacker. This picture should go down in history as one of the best hits ever in the Tedford era. ~Swamphunter