(8) Kevin "Rope Coach" Parker
Rope Coach's community work goes a long way toward making our currrent Cal athletes better citizens, as Berkelium discovered in a recent Golden Nuggets.
Kevin "Rope Coach" Parker constantly reminds himself and his players of the consequences of poor life choices. His involvement with the SQUIRES program has earned him heaps of praise from his fellow coaches and his players.
Parker played running back at Oregon when Tedford was the offensive coordinator there in 1998. Parker had a short stint in the Arena Football League before Tedford brought him to Berkeley when he became the head coach in 2002.
A few years later, Parker was introduced to S.Q.U.I.R.E.S, a program at San Quentin State Prison where hard-core inmates meet with troubled youths to show them how they might end up if they make the wrong decisions in life. Parker, who saw lots of crime growing up and had always dreamed of going into law enforcement, was awed by the experience.
He came up with the idea of getting Cal's players involved in the program, if nothing else to teach them not to take anything for granted.
"The first thing I thought was we have to get some of our guys over here," Parker said. "I thought our players needed to see it because we're only one bad choice and one bad decision away from coming here. That's true for anybody. I think anybody and everybody should go visit a prison, just to keep you on the straight and narrow. You don't want to be there."
Parker said he brings a group of Cal players to the program about three times a year — there will be another visit next month — but now finds himself going on his own as much as possible. Parker tries to go every Saturday, just to listen to the inmates' stories and keep him as grounded as possible.
"I get over there pretty often," Parker said. "My wife gets mad at me for going over there so much. When I'm feeling bad, I go over there and hear their stories just to keep me on the straight and narrow. It's big-time therapy. Sometimes, I just sit in the corner and listen."
(9) Jerrott Willard
LeonPowe talks up Jerrott's case.
Jerrott Willard was a badass linebacker from 1991-1994 . . .who rocked the half shirt. Willard was the best linebacker we've had since Hardy Nickerson. Maybe Desmond Bishop was more physically gifted and maybe Follett was better at hitting the Qb, but nobody we've had since the mid 80s has been the absolute terror sideline to sideline, in the backfield or back in coverage that Jerrrott Willard was.
He completely dominated the 1994 Alamo Bowl, including a 64 yard interception return for a touchdown. He was everywhere you needed a linebacker to be, covering the tight end, in the backfield hitting the qb, shuffling down the line to nail the running back at the point of attack on a toss play.
The best linebacker I've ever seen at Cal.
Kodiak: Sideline to sideline terror who can play the run as well as drop into coverage.
Fierce hitter, great instincts, and tough guy who played with an almost signature bare midriff.
Would have had a great pro career if not for knee injuries.
From tightwad hill's description of Willard
Jerrott Willard was probably the best tackler I've ever seen wear Blue and Gold. Broadcasters love the cliche of "football instincts." Cliche or no, Willard had those instincts in spades. He exploded through ball carriers and rarely missed a tackle. His angles were as sharp as a geometry major's, and he squeezed the absolute most out of what God gave him. He played sideline to sideline with a non-stop motor that recalls Desmond Bishop of this year's team.
Willard led the Bears in tackles in each of his four seasons and wound up third all-time with 469 career stops, 54 of them for losses. He also had the knack for the big play, which separates him from other Cal defenders with gaudy stats. In his freshman year he blocked a critical punt for a touchdown against Oregon State in a 27-14 victory. In Cal's 37-3 Alamo Bowl victory over Iowa in 1993, he returned an interception 61 yards for a score, and was named Defensive Player of the Game. In countless other situations, we could count on Jerrott to make the critical stop on third down, or to force a turnover.
Though Willard played alongside some outstanding talents in his time at Cal, he was voted Team MVP after both his junior and senior seasons, and he was a two-time All-Pac 10 first team selection at inside linebacker.