(1) Jahvid Best
Best seems to always have one mode: Fast. He ran fast. He cut fast. He caught fast. He leapt fast. He even interviewed fast. He's the prototypical Internet-generation athlete!
He was a one man instrument of warfare, like that sniper in Saving Private Ryan. In a blink of an eye, he took teams out of games. We can count the games, the names, the teams he left burning on the turf in his wake. CSU '08. Wazzu '08. Furd '08. Washington '08. Miami '08. Maryland '09. Minnesota '09. UCLA '09. Opposing fans probably felt a little helpless once the Jet found the seams and broke loose--it was hardly a fair fight once Xs and Os crumbled into the 100 m dash.
I don't think I've ever seen a football player take over a football game by himself the way Jahvid did with the liabilities he had to nurse from everyone. He was hampered with a generally weak offensive line (especially in the interior) and a terribly hamstrung quarterback situation. Even Desean had a fairly accurate Longshore throwing to him much of his career. Best had to win many games on his own (and when I say on his own, he generated around 70 to 80% of their meaningful offense, sometimes even more). The only Bear who had to burden that much of the load in modern times was probably Deltha, and those teams still stunk. One player can't make a team great; it's to Jahvid's credit that he kept the offense running alright with minimal help (Ta'ufo'ou, Mack and Malele in '08, and mmmaybe Summers-Gavin in '09).
After a short but often-electric stint in the National Football League with the Detroit Lions...(1) Jahvid Best
...Best joined the California coaching staff as a student assistant, while finishing his degree, in January 2014.
(2) Desean Jackson
Perhaps no other skill player in Cal history instilled as much fear and respect into opposing defenses and special teams coverages as DeSean Jackson. Opening day starter as a true freshman. His first two career touches went for touchdowns against Sacramento State. Led the Bears in receiving as a sophmore with 59 catches for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns as set a Cal record with four punt returns for touchdowns. Perhaps his greatest play was a 77 yard punt return against Tennessee in 2007 that went for a touchdown. Some consider him an enigma during his Junior year, in which the Cal football team collapsed in the second half of the season, however, his overall body of work is not to be ignored. He departed holding Pac-10 records for punts returned for a touchdown both in a season (four), and in a career (six). Jackson ranks third all-time at California for receiving yards with 2,423 and receiving touchdowns with 22. He is sixth in receptions (162). Jackson finished with 52 career plays of 20 yards or more, making up 23 percent of his 226 touches.
(1) Missy Franklin
For those of you who happen to not be acquainted with Missy Franklin, Franklin has won four Olympic gold medals, one Olympic bronze, three World Championship long course gold medals, one World Championship long course silver medal, one World Championship long course bronze medal, and two World Championship short course silver medals.
Actually, Missy has won far many more international medals than that. The above list is only what she has won before she ever became a Golden Bear.
Missy's career at Cal is equally as illustrious: She has been an individual NCAA champion four times in the 200-yard freestyle in 2014 and 2015, the 200-yard backstroke and individual medley in 2015. In doing so, Franklin set several American records and powered California to the 2015 NCAA title.
But, if that was all Missy Franklin ever did, she would never occupy the top seed in her bracket in the CGB Hall of Fame, nor would she occupy such a treasured place in the Cal family. Missy is extremely active in charity; she serves as an ambassador for multiple sclerosis research and for clean water initiatives.
On a much simpler level, it is her Cal spirit that has vaulted Missy to that special place for the Cal community. Cal athletes have laid their all at Mater's feet before, but none with the Missy's enthusiasm and the infectious smile that we have all grown to love.
(2) Cal/Duke 1993
Nearly a decade of Duke dominance is over.
Hurley, whose only previous tournament loss was the 1990 title game when he was a freshman, capped his impressive career with a personal-best 32 points.
Jason Kidd and the rest of the California basketball team saw to that by upsetting the two-time defending national champions, 82-77, Saturday in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
While the Bears made the round of 16 for the first time since 1960, Duke failed to advance that far for the first time in eight years.
The Blue Devils (24-8) had been in the previous five Final Fours and six of the last seven. Before Saturday, Mike Krzyzewski had coached them to a 33-5 tournament record since 1986, including 18-1 in the 1990s.
Cal (21-8), which has won 11 of 12 games under the positive reinforcement of 29-year-old coach Todd Bozeman, will meet Kansas (27-6) in St. Louis on Thursday in the regional semifinals.
Kidd, Cal's phenomenal freshman, won a second consecutive game with a wild, one-handed layup.
Duke rallied from a 70-53 deficit to take a 77-76 lead with 2:21 to play. After neither team scored for more than a minute, Kidd tried to pass the ball inside and it was batted away.
But Kidd recovered the loose ball and, falling down after being fouled by Grant Hill, tossed a right-handed shot off the backboard and through the net. Kidd made the free throw for a 79-77 Cal lead.
Kidd, who had 11 points and 14 assists, added another free throw, and Lamond Murray, who scored 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting, hit two foul shots to seal Ca's eighth consecutive victory and hand Duke its first tournament loss since the 1990 final against Nevada Las Vegas.
In the opening-round game last Thursday, it was Kidd who beat Louisiana State with a high-banking layup with one second to play. LSU Coach Dale Brown, however, said the sixth-seeded Bears had no chance to beat the third-seeded, 10th-ranked Blue Devils and that Kidd would be no match for Bobby Hurley, Duke's All-American point guard.