(2) Scott Fujita
Strength in Numbers: Scott Fujita (via NFLPLAYERS)
Coming out of high school, Scott Fujita was not seen as a Division I college football player - not one deserving of a football scholarship anyway. Some fifteen years later, one looks back at Fujita's career and sees not only a Division I football career at Cal, but a long NFL career and a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints.
CruzinBears sums up Fujita's progression quite succinctly.
Cal football walk-on to world champion
There was a great story in ESPN the Magazine focusing on Fujita's upbringing that touched upon his time as a Golden Bear.
Fujita redshirted his freshman year, but not before blowing away coaches in his first camp by helping out the injury-plagued Bears at safety even though both of his hands were clubbed up with tape-one because it was broken, the other because of a nasty gash. The Bears gave him a scholarship the next spring, and he added 20 pounds to his 6'5" frame while switching from safety to linebacker. But as a sophomore in 1999, he was plagued by nerve stingers in his neck. Following the season, he had career-threatening surgery that put him in the ICU for three days and a neck halo for a week. That was March. By August, he was cracking skulls again in live practice drills. Two seasons later, he was among Cal's leading tacklers. "I call it Pat Tillman syndrome," says former Cal defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich, now at Texas Tech. "There are a few players you come across who give their heart and soul to the game. That's Pat Tillman, and that's Scott Fujita.
Off the field, as paleodan pointed out, "[r]epresents the Cal bleeding-heart liberal spirit in much of what he does, see: NFLPA, gays in sports, Hurricane Katrina aftermath." Indeed, Fujita has been outspoken about the lockout situation, has been an advocate for gay rights, and has tackled numerous philanthropic causes. He recently gained national acclaim for his Op-Ed article in the NY Times urging acceptance and in defense of gay marriage.
He was suspended for his alleged role in the Saints bounty scandal, a suspension that was later overturned for lack of sufficient evidence. After leaving the Saints he signed and played with the Cleveland Browns for 2 years before being placed on injured reserve in 2012 for a neck injury. He is currently a free agent.
(15) Geoff McAarthur
2004 Cal Football Highlights - Part 1 (via Swamphunter)
From the HOF nominations:
thehawkse7en makes a simple and concise case for why Geoff deserves the honor:
Didn't have the overall skill set that some of the other receivers had, but he put up the best, monster numbers and was simply a beast. Wouldn't we love to have him now??
CALumbus Bear adds in his thoughts:
Wasn't G-Mac second in the NATION (behind Larry Fitzgerald) one year in receiving yards? He had the best hands evair, maybe even better than D-Jax when it came to muscling a ball away from a defender. He deserves it. Vote for G-Mac!
They say it's better to be lucky than good. Well, "they" never met G-Mac. This guy comes out of nowhere to rewrite the Cal record book in 2003, catching 85 passes for 1,504 yards. He has five 150+ yard games and basically wins the Big Game by himself with the greatest stat line in Cal history: 16 catches/245 yards/2 TDs. Then, basking in the glow of All-Pac 10 and 2nd team All-America status and Cal's first bowl invitation in seven years, he fractures his right arm in a non-contact drill. No one touched him. Misses the Insight Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
Oh well, he comes into his senior year a pre-season All-America selection, and opposing defenses are ready. They feed him a steady diet of double teams, and Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around. Seven different receivers have at least 14 catches on the season, and G-Mac's numbers fall to 57 catches for 862 yards and 7 touchdowns. Plus he plays with a strained oblique muscle for most of the season.
Kodiak: You can't overstate what GMac did in the Big Game. EVERYONE knew that he was going to get the ball. And it didn't matter. Double coverage. Triple coverage. Guys clinging to his jersey and ripping off his jock - he still came down with the ball. ‘Furd tears were ever so sweet that day, and it was all because of his individual brilliance.