Several Bears Pick Up Additional 2009 National Honors
Jan. 15, 2010
BERKELEY - Several Cal football players have recently picked up additional honors for their play during the 2009 season. DB Syd'Quan Thompson (second team), DL Tyson Alualu (third team) and P Bryan Anger (honorable mention) were honored on the national All-College Football Insiders teams. TB Jahvid Best (Elite Running Back Trophy, Elite Running Back Performer), PR Jeremy Ross (Elite Punt Returner Performer), LB Eddie Young (Elite Bowl Game Linebacker Performer) and TB Shane Vereen have added awards from College Football Performance Awards.
Alualu played all 52 games possible with 40 starts over his Cal career, including a run of 39 consecutive starts over his final three campaigns to cap his career. He final career numbers were highlighted by 195 tackles to go along with 26.0 TFL (-134 yards), 16.0 sacks (-111 yards), seven passes defended, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Alualu earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors for the first time in his career as a senior in 2009 and led all Pac-10 defensive linemen with 65 tackles, while also contributing 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
Thompson was a two-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection, earning the honor in each of his final two campaigns. He started all 52 games possible over his four-year career (2006-09) to set a school record for starts as he held down a starting cornerback job for each of his four seasons. Thompson finished his career as Cal's all-time leader in pass breakups with 36 while other notable final career totals included 257 tackles, seven interceptions that he returned for 204 yards, 43 passes defended, 20.0 tackles for loss (65 yards) and 36 punt returns that he brought back for a total of 389 yards, including one that he returned 73 yards for a touchdown vs. Colorado State in 2008. Thompson recorded a career-high 78 tackles as a sophomore in 2007 and recorded four of his seven career picks in 2008.
Despite missing the final four contests of the 2009 season due to injury, Best rushed for 867 yards on 141 carries (6.1 ypc) and scored 16 touchdowns overall (12 rushing, 4 receiving) in nine games of action. Best was one of the country's top Heisman Trophy candidates during the early stages of the campaign and was named one of 16 national semifinalists for the Maxwell Award given annually to the nation's top collegiate football on Nov. 4. Three days later he suffered a season-ending injury when he landed hard in the end zone on a seven-yard touchdown run against Oregon State at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 7. Best's 16 total touchdowns in 2009 were only one shy of Cal's modern-era single-season record and two short of the school's all-time single-season mark. He also completed the regular season with a scoring average of 10.67 points per game that ranked second in the Pac-10 and third nationally, and was also among the conference per-game leaders in rushing (96.33 ypg, No. 4) and all-purpose running (122.0 ypg, No. 9) at the conclusion of the regular season. However, he did not participate in the required 75% of a team's contests to qualify in the final conference and national rankings. He was selected by the CFPA for weekly honors in 2009 on five occasions and was the only running back in the nation to earn recognition from the CFPA in each of the first three weeks of the season after beginning the campaign with three consecutive 100-yard contests.
Best, who announced on Jan. 2, 2010 that he was declaring for the NFL Draft and would forego his senior season at Cal, played in 31 games and started 18 contests during his three seasons at Cal (2007-09) in a career that includes a second-team All-American selection by College Football News in 2008 and a pair of first-team All-Pac-10 honors (2007, '08). He finished his Golden Bear career ranked seventh on the school's all-time rushing list with 2,668 yards on 364 carries. His 29 rushing touchdowns are tied for third on the school's all-time chart, while his 35 total touchdowns are fourth. His three career 200-yard rushing games are the most ever by a Cal player and he is also among the school's all-time leaders in all-purpose running yards (4,045, No. 5), 100-yard rushing games (13, No. 6) and scoring (210 points, No. 9). Best recorded 34 career rushes of 20+ yards to go along with 11 of 60+ yards and four of 80 or more, including a career-long 93-yard touchdown run at UCLA in 2009 that was the third-longest in school history.
Anger was named a first-team All-Pac-10 selection for the first time in his career, finishing the 2009 season with a 41.5-yard average on 69 punts, including 14 of 50+ yards and 24 that pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line. He was twice chosen as a CFPA Punter of the Week and once the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week following his game at UCLA, when he averaged 50.0 yards on seven punts, including a season-long 72-yarder against the Bruins. In addition, he was the recipient of team's J. Scott Duncan Award as MVP on special teams.
Young intercepted a pass in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against Utah and returned it 31 yards for his first career touchdown to give the Bears a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. He also recorded seven tackles in the contest. Young started all 13 games in 2009 and recorded career highs in several categories, including 56 tackles (tied for fourth on team), 6.5 TFL (-27), 2.0 sacks (-13), two interceptions that he returned for 31 yards and a touchdown, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups.
Vereen rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the Poinsettia Bowl, while adding three catches for 20 yards. The honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection set career highs with 952 yards rushing on 183 carries that were also both team season-highs. Vereen also scored 12 TDs on the ground to equal Jahvid Best for the team lead and had 14 overall TDs. Vereen played in all 13 games with four starts and was among Pac-10 leaders in rushing yards (No. 6, 73.23 per game), all-purpose running (135.2 ypg), kick returns (No. 6, 23.0 ypr), scoring (No.10-T, 6.46 ppg) and total offense (No. 15, 73.23 ypg).