The Pete Newell Region's matchups wrap up today. Cal's all-time leading rusher battles one of the most reliable defensive linemen of the Tedford era. Check out the latest bracket (with updated results) here.
LeonPowe: Superman. One of the 3 best running backs (some would argue the best ever) to play at Cal. Finished in the top 5 in Heisman as a junior. Carried Cal to a #7 National ranking at the end of the 1991 season. Hurdled a Purdue player well before anyone else did it.
Kodiak: Took it to the house on a 100yd kickoff return first time he touched the ball in a Cal uniform. Had some crazy reverse-the-field oh-no-he-didn't runs that were Marshawn-esque before Marshawn. Put up huge #'s while still sharing the ball with another 1000-yd rusher (Anthony Wallace).
Freaky athlete. He hurdled a guy once and got penalized for it...because the guy was still standing. (yes, not diving, not tackling, not kneeling/crouching.)
For you younguns: A little taller/faster than Forsett, similar vision. Not quite as powerful as Marshawn, but similiar wiggle/athleticism.
Cal's all-time leading rusher was perhaps the biggest recruiting coup in school history. Controversy surrounded White's decision to move from Crespi HS to Berkeley, since he was a Prop 48 student who had not achieved a qualifying SAT score. A summer of tutoring revealed that Russell was dyslexic, and he would go on to earn his degree in social welfare in four years with a B average.
He would also go on to become Cal's all-time leading rusher, behind 1,000 yard efforts in 1991 and 1992. Fifteen times he rushed for at least 100 yards in a game, including a 229-yard effort in Cal's record setting 52-30 beatdown of USC in 1991. With White, the Bears reversed a decade of futility and won back-to-back bowls in 1990 and 1991. His '91 season, with 1,177 yards rushing and fourteen touchdowns earned White first-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation and the FWAA. Now thanks to Prd74, we all get to bask in Russell's greatness a little; his freshman campaign in 1990 had some great moments, including a 99 yard kickoff return against Miami in the first video and an utterly insane run starting at 4:24 in the second vid.
Tyson Alualu had a solid career as a defensive lineman at Cal, playing in all 52 possible games of his Cal career (starting 40 of them). He was the anchor of Cal's defensive line in 2009 in particular, providing heart, soul, and a nonstop motor. Alualu's Cal career and talent was rewarded when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
While working for the team, I often worked with the defensive line. On one sunny day, some of the more senior defensive linemen were having a little chit chat between drills. Coach Delgado was firmly shouting out orders to players currently in the drill, and Abu Ma'afala, Nu'u Tafisi, and Mika Kane had just popped out of the drill. They had been talking about who among the defensive linemen, will become either really really good or become an NFL player. Between labored breathes, and with eyes fixed afar in thought, they pondered their nearby comrades in blue practice shirts and shorts.
Somebody mentioned a few people, and those names didn't really garner much response from the others. But then somebody, and I think it was Abu, suggested Tyson Alualu. I think he said something like, "I think Tyson has a good chance." The others immediately agreed with "yeah, Tyson." It was unanimous. The others weren't agreeing to agree, they were agreeing because they really believed Tyson Alualu would be the next great one.
Tyson wasn't there at the moment. I think he was in the drill itself. He didn't hear those words, but I did and stored that memory away for today.
I've written about this before, but for those of you who have ever done something enough to know what it takes to be good at that something, you know you can judge the talent and potential of others at becoming good at that same task. For example, and I'll use myself, I grew up playing a musical instrument. I turned out to be decent enough to make a few honor bands. I knew who was good, and who wasn't. I knew who had potential to be a pro, and who didn't. Those experiences I had helped me judge others, and that's exactly what was going on in the conversation between Tafisi, Ma'fala, and Kane.
Upon hearing those words, I made a distinct effort to keep an eye on Alualu from then on. I'd be stupid not to since his teammates pegged him as the one of the next greatest ones.
This story I am relaying to you occurred in 2006. Tyson Alualu was a freshman in 2006. The elder defensive linemen picked him out as a freshman. They could see the talent and potential that early. It was that obvious.