(1) Justin Forsett
Justin Forsett Extended Highlights Part 1 (via ronenlish1)
When Marshawn Lynch left for the NFL following the 2006 season, there were some Cal fans who wondered if Justin Forsett cold handle the role of Cal's # 1 running back. Sure, he was great as Lynch's backup and and as a quintessential "change of pace" back during the Beast Mode years, but how would he do as Cal's feature back?
Just fine, thank you very much. Forsett rushed for 1,546 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, which led the Pac-10 and tied for the best single-season total in Cal history. On top of all that, Forsett was a second team Pac-10 All-Academic selection. Forsett finished his Cal career with 3,220 rushing yards and was a valued member of teams that won 35 regular season games and three bowl games. These days, he is a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
Back in the day, danzig wrote one of the classiest tributes ever on this site, dedicated to Forsett (included in the post are his noted highlighted reels), chock full of emotion and memory. Here's the best of that post.
1) He's a great all-around guy: ALL fans love him. Great work ethic, high character, good morals, never got in trouble and patiently waited behind Marshawn without bitching about it. There are so few heros in life, but he's one of them.
All his life he's been told about the body he doesn't have... the speed he doesn't possess... to accept that he wouldn't go far... and he said to all of them... "F*** that, I don't give a shit what you think!!" (Actually, he probably would've have said, "Excuse me sir, I beg to differ" but...). To make it even more improbable, Ty Willingham yanked his only D-1 scholarship at the last minute, but he still became a star at Cal... I bet Ty is sorry now. His story is downright inspirational and I demand a movie be made about him immediately! Hey Hollywood, cancel that sequel you're about to make and do this instead: The Truth Laid Bear: The Justin Forsett Story. But if it shows up on Lifetime I'm going to F*ing kill you guys.
2) He's the son of a preacher man: And so am I. PKs (pastor's kids) don't have what you would call 'normal' upbringings. Pastors are incredibly strict with their kids because the kids' behavior reflects on the Pastor and the church itself. There are only two varieties of PKs... the ones that grow up to be upstanding role models in their communities and the 'rebels' who embrace all evil (I'm the latter). In short, it's tough to grow up as a PK and PKs the world over have somewhat of a kinship that grows from that. "Genesis says don't be spilling no seed"
3) He's got skillz: Admit it, sometimes when Marshawn was bogging down in a game or fumbling, we all secretly whispered to ourselves, "PUT JUSTIN IN !!!" When announcers said that he could be starting anywhere else in the country... they weren't kidding. He was an outstanding running back with accolades too long to list here. He's got moves and knows when to just run downhill. He's chocked my head full of great game memories...I'll miss him so much...sniff, sniff. (tearing up).
(16) Jerome Randle
Avinash provides some thoughts:
Randle's evolution as a player was remarkable. When I first watched him sophomore year I cringed watching him run the offense. I don't play much basketball, but when I do I'm usually the point guard, and the things Randle did are NOT things that would make my teammates happy. The shots themselves weren't that bad. I'm guessing if he was taking them in the first place he was hitting them in practice, and the next two years proved he could make those shots.
No, it was the lack of ball movement and inability to get the ball to the bigs that really exasperated me. The process of watching our plays developed was chaotic, and not in an enjoyable Nellie-ball sort of way. You could see the team unravel during conference play as they ran into smarter and more efficient teams. That's the point guard mantra--run the offense, make your teammates make happy. Bad point guards lead to bad teams, and that was what Cal was in 2008.
(The most curious thing was that Randle and Ryan Anderson never really gelled. Although people opine what would've been if Ryan had returned for a year (or two) with Monty, Jerome probably would've left as he was already on the fence after the Braun firing, and we'd have probably had two years of Nikola Knezevic running point guard. Think we're Pac-10 champions this year if that happens?)
His maturation was exceptional under Monty though. First he got the alpha dog streak as the team's on-the-court leader in his junior campaign. That he went from an inconsistent shooter shooter to one of college's most efficent offensive players (53rd in the nation in 09) in a year without great bigs to set picks for him lends credence to Montgomery's teaching methods. Amazing what putting a system in place does for good players.
Second, his endurance for a guy his size was exceptional. He played an average of 35 minutes the past two seasons, and that's including blowouts. And it wasn't like the guy was taking plays off either--he handled the ball on over a fourth of our possessions the past two seasons. It not only underscored the importance of Randle, but the faith Monty had in letting him play those long minutes. It wore him out last season, but his performances were solid from beginning to end this year.
Finally, he embraced his teammates and ran with them as they ran with each other. Although his 2009 campaign was more spectacular than his 2010 season, I felt he played even better this year. He sublimated his individual talents in search of the team goal, which was the conference crown. The final stretch of the Pac-10 season (where they won nine out of their last ten games) was perhaps the best basketball he ever played as a Bear. He stepped up when they needed him, he stepped aside when others were ready to carry the load. And they got that conference ring.