Sept. 11, 2006
by John Sudsbury, California Media Relations
[This story originally appeared in the September 9 issue of "Kickoff," the official California game day program]
Imagine being a shy kid who likes to spend quality time with family, hang out with friends, watch cartoons, eat candy and play football...most of all, play football. You enjoy the thrill of taking a handoff and breaking into the open field. The only sounds you hear are the shoulder pads bouncing up and down and maybe the wind whistling in your helmet. Now imagine the game being over and the freedom gone.
Then it is time to talk, to answer questions, which is not really a problem, except nearly all questions are about HIM and how HE does it and what makes HIM so fast and so elusive. The questions are not the burden for California junior running back Marshawn Lynch, it's the subject.
"I'm solid with it," Lynch said. "But it shouldn't be about me. I couldn't do any of this if not for my team. The O-Line makes it all happen. The running backs are a unit, we all support each other. Justin [junior Justin Forsett] and Mo-Deuce [senior Marcus O'Keith] would put up the same numbers as me if they were in my position. And none of this matters, I won't get any awards unless we win as a team. So if I do get awards, those are team awards, for the whole team, receivers, running backs, offense, defense, coaches, everybody."
Despite his humble, team-first attitude, Lynch is becoming the face of the California football program. He is on the cover of the media guide, the schedule card, and the fan guide, and of course, he has a website, Marshawn10.com. Despite not requesting any of this, Lynch has accepted the responsibility.
"Marshawn has matured quite a bit," head coach Jeff Tedford said. "He has never been one to embrace the media and the limelight. He loves to have fun, but he has figured out that at some level, football becomes a business."
As Lynch opens up to the media and as more and more people have become aware of his amazing talents on the gridiron, the 20-year old Oakland native has become a top candidate for the coveted Heisman Trophy. He has appeared on countless preseason magazine covers, handled multiple features on ESPN and sat down for a seemingly endless line of interview for stories in newspapers and nearly every major sports website. Maybe the most impressive sign of his growing recognition was a much talked about four-page centerfold in Sports Illustrated.
"I like to do interviews when they allow me to sit down and do them with my cousins or some of my other teammates," he said. "But it's kind of weird; I never get asked how I am feeling as a person, people just ask me as a `Heisman dude.'"
Yet through all of the attention and accolades, Lynch's most likely response to any request from the media? "Why do they want to talk to me?" He doesn't want to talk, he wants to have fun, enjoy time with his family and play football...most of all, play football.