Receiver Lyman finally healthy and ready to help No. 10 Cal

Sept. 13, 2004

By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Almost the only thing Chase Lyman has kept healthywhile playing football is his head.

Thank goodness for that - it certainly saved his sanity.

To best diagram his injuries, start at the top of his 6-foot-4, 210-poundframe and work down. There was his troublesome shoulder and a hurt finger,appendicitis and a severely torn hamstring, a banged-up knee and a sprainedankle.

All that has added up to five surgeries for No. 10 California's seniorreceiver.

Here's how bad his luck has been: He dislocated his finger on the first dayof fall camp two years ago and five minutes later tore his hamstring muscle offthe bone - causing him to need surgery, redshirt, and miss what would have beenhis true junior season.

'I'm done with surgery, I'm done with injuries,' Lyman says now. 'It'sgreat to be back on the field with all my friends. I spent the majority of twoyears hurt.'

Everyone around Cal sure hopes he stays healthy. Lyman is on a roll.

He caught five passes for a career-high 149 yards and a touchdown in Cal's52-49 Insight Bowl win over Virginia Tech last season and has carried thatsuccess into this year. In two games for the Golden Bears, Lyman has caughtseven passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

'Chase is awesome,' quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. 'He makes greatcatches. I can just throw the ball up. I threw some not-so-great passes and hegot them.'

Star receiver Geoff McArthur has been slowed by a strained oblique muscle sofar, leaving Lyman to take most of the plays at receiver in practice.

Lyman is hoping for many more big games this fall. But he'll have to waituntil the team's Pac-10 opener at Oregon State on Oct. 2. The Bears' gamescheduled for Thursday night at Southern Mississippi was postponed Mondaybecause of Hurricane Ivan.

'I expect this out of myself, and I expect this out of the team,' saidLyman, who grew up in nearby Los Altos Hills and remembers all the Bears' badyears. 'Our goal is to put drives together and score every time we touch theball.'

He took several months off after the bowl game last season to make sure herecovered physically. He ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash during the spring, andworked all summer to get his time down into the 4.3s.

'It was really those couple months where I could shut everything down andgive everything a rest and get back to 100 percent,' he said of last winter.

Now, it's hard for Lyman to even remember every body part he has hurt overthe years and in what order.

The team's media guide also lists groin and hip injuries among his problems.

He injured the back of his knee before even arriving on campus in 2000, butstill played as a true freshman and caught 19 passes for 313 yards. He had anappendectomy the following August and missed the season opener of his sophomoreseason.

Lyman was slated to start and was No. 1 on the depth chart in 2002, thentore his hamstring. He missed the season and spring ball.

'It's great to see not only his production on the field, but he has turnedinto one of our most popular team leaders,' third-year coach Jeff Tedfordsaid. 'It's great to see Chase have the success, because he deserves it.'

Not only is he popular with his teammates, Lyman is one of Cal's fastestplayers. He's also smart, and rarely makes a mistake - just ask safety MattGiordano, who guards him every day in practice.

'He has great hands and a knack for the ball,' Giordano said. 'If you tryto guard Geoff McArthur, Chase is going to burn you. Most receivers have aweakness, but Chase is big and strong, so it's hard to press him.'

Both Lyman's great-grandfather and grandfather attended Cal. Hisgrandfather, Fred Hodge, played football for the Bears under Pappy Waldorf inthe late 1940s.

Lyman's father, Brad, ran track and played football at UCLA, and went on toan NFL career with the Houston Oilers.

They spoke recently about what a positive turn the Cal program has takensince Lyman graduated from high school, when the Bears were consistent losersand Stanford had just played in the Rose Bowl. Tedford's influence has peopletalking of a Bowl Championship Series berth for this team.

'My dad said, 'Isn't it funny how things change? You really ended up goingto the right place in the long run.'' Lyman recalled.

All injuries aside, Lyman agreed.

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