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Remembering The Seniors: Michael Mohamed

(We're taking a look at some of the football players leaving for greener pastures.  We previously looked at Cameron Jordan and Kevin Riley).  

TwistNHook:  The Prophet!  Big Game Legend!  One of the greatest moment in Big Game history and he is the icon that will be associated with it.  

Andrew Luck drops back, needing a touchdown to win the game.  A handful of ticks left on the clock.  A raging doosh coaching on the Stanford sideline.  Luck lets fly, right into the hands of Mike Mohamed.  PEACE BE UPON HIM!



HydroTech:  I remember when Mohamed first arrived on campus, there was a lot of talk about how the coaches thought he really was going to be special despite not being a big time recruit or the flashiest guy.  Looks to me like they were right.  I think Mohamed is definitely one of the best "diamonds in the rough" that the coaches found in the past five years or so.

TwistNHook:  Great thoughts, HydroTech.  That's why I don't often put a lot of stock in the recruiting numbers.  Tedford and Co. will find great guys who might not be ESPN #1s or whatever.  They find these great fits for the Cal system and Berkeley.  That is what is so important.  Mohamed was a perfect fit for Cal football and for Berkeley!

Kodiak:  I really appreciated his instincts and versatility.  As a young player, I remember that he was the key back-up at both MLB and OLB.  Then when we switched to the 3-4, he started outside while Kendricks was inside before they eventually flip-flopped back.  To be able to assimilate all of the different assignments and still excel was quite impressive.

Berkelium97:  In addition to remembering everything he did on the field, I remember his interesting background.  He came from a small town in Imperial County, where he grew up on his family's farm.  The farm was established by Mike's great grandfather, who left India, became a citizen, and bought 1000 acres of land.  The farm has since been passed down through the family and played a big role in Mike's life when he was growing up.  During his interviews at the Combine, Mike kept emphasizing his hard-nosed, blue collar work ethic.  When asked about his life growing up, Mike says he learned these values by working at the farm.  Off the field he works just as hard, as he was named to the Pac-10's all-academic team each of his four years.  In a way, Mike is a lot like another recent Cal grad who earned great respect for his tremendous work ethic on and off the field: Alex Mack.

NorCalNick:  For me his tenure will almost be bittersweet, because I think constant nagging injuries really hampered his senior season.  Of course, we all saw what happened to our defense without him against Nevada, but he rarely seemed to have quite the same impact from that point on in the season as compared to his junior year.  And Cal's defense was so good most of the time last year  that I wonder how much better it might have been with a 100% Mikey Mo.

Of course, what he'll really be remembered for is arguably the greatest interception in Big Game history.  Joining the likes of Vince Ferragamo, Joe Igber and Steve Levy in the pantheon of unforgettable Big Game heroes is about as high an honor as a Cal player can aspire to.


TwistNHook:  I always loved those photos of Mike Mohamed with the MoFro.  It's always funny to go back and look at your old photos from FanFests in years past.  He has a mop top of curly hair, complete with Beiber bangs!

Not all that fearsome looking, to be honest.  Good that he cut it. 

Kodiak:  Norcalnick has a good point about the injuries.  I think we only saw a shadow of the MikeyMo that we knew and expected this past year.  Pendergast's attacking system seems like it would be a great fit for his speed and instincts.  If we had better/more experience depth behind him, I think we could have afforded to rest him a couple of games.  Because we struggled so badly against Nevada when he was out, I think he tried to make a go of it and just never got completely healthy.  I could see him being a guy like Scott Fujita who had a quieter senior year at Cal and then turned into a really productive player in the NFL.

TwistNHook:  Considering how well the Cal Defense played (not including very specific times), I love that "shadow" of MikeyMo!

Where do you guys see Michael Mohamed ending up in the NFL?

NorCalNick:  I think Kodiak has already nailed the best case scenario in Scott Fujita - a guy who doesn't overwhelm you with his athleticism or power, but his ability to always be in the right place at the right time along with sure tackling allows him to compensate.  I don't see him being a star anywhere in the league, but he could develop into a we're-glad-we-have-him-on-the-team steady starter type of player.

OhioBear:  Before the combine, I had my doubts as to whether Mike Mohamed would be drafted.  But he had such a good combine that I now expect him to be a late round draft pick.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him emerge into a Scott Fujita type of player, provided he stays healthy. 

As far as memories of Mike Mohamed, I will always (obviously) remember his epic interception to seal victory in the 2009 Big Game.  But I'll also remember that as sort of a microcosm of his career.  Mohamed always seemed to be johnny on the spot (or is that mikey on the spot?) in pass coverage.  Think about it -- he came up with memorable interceptions in not only the 2009 Big Game, but in the 2008 Big Game, the Emerald Bowl, and 2008 Ucla game, and the 2010 Colorado game.  All were significant plays.  He just seemed to have a knack for being in the right place and making the play in pass coverage.

Yellow Fever:  As a middle linebacker whose greatest strength is his pass coverage (which isn't to say his play against the run is poor - it's just not outstanding), it seems like he'd fit best with a team that plays a lot of Cover 2.  Which plays the most ghastly of all possible defenses, a zone.  But he's shown he has the ability to patrol the deep middle, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see a Cover 2 based team like Minnesota, Carolina, or Tampa Bay pick him up with the intention of playing him on special teams for a while to see if he can emerge as a starter.