Dec. 8, 2008
BERKELEY - Four Golden Bears - center Alex Mack, tailback Jahvid Best, linebacker Zack Follett and cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson - have been named first-team All-Pac-10 in a vote of the conference coaches. In addition, offensive guard Noris Malele, defensive end Tyson Alualu and punter Bryan Anger were chosen to the second-team unit.
Mack, who was named on nine of 10 ballots, is a three-time first-team choice, while Best earned first-team notice for the second consecutive season after claiming a spot as a special teams performer in 2007.
Named one of 15 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, which comes with a $15,000 postgraduate scholarship, Mack is also a finalist for the NFF's Draddy Award given to the top football scholar-athlete in the country. A semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, he was named a first-team mid-season All-American by both The Sporting News Today and College Football News. Mack is a two-time first-team Pac-10 All-Academic choice as well as a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for athletic and academic achievement.
Best is a three-time Pac-10 Player of the Week this year who leads the Pac-10 and ranks fifth in the country in rushing, averaging 126.7 ypg. His 8.0 yards per carry average is the best in the nation for any back having 125 or more attempts. Best set a school record with 311 yards on the ground vs. Washington last week - the fourth-best effort in Pac-10 history. For the season, he has accumulated 1,394 yards on the ground - No. 4 on the Golden Bears season list.
Follett ranks second in the Pac-10 in tackles for loss with 19.0 and fourth in the conference with 8.5 quarterback sacks. Named Cal's defensive MVP, he was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award given to the country's best defensive player and was a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. In addition, Follett was voted Pac-10 Player of the Week following his 11-tackle performance vs. Oregon, when he finished with eight solo stops, 3.0 tackles for loss and a quarterback sack.
Thompson, who has started every game in his Golden Bear career, has a team-high four interceptions and ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in passes defensed with 16. He set a school record with 108 interception return yards off two picks at Washington State, returning one interception 90 yards to set up a score - the fifth-longest return in school history.
Malele, Cal's starting right guard, received the team's Stub Allison Award as the most inspirational player for the 2008 campaign. Alualu has a career-high 59 tackles to date, and with two more stops will pass Andre Carter (60 in 2000) for most tackles by a Cal lineman since Duane Clemons had 82 in 1995. Anger, meanwhile, averages 43.7 yards per punt and was the only freshman and Pac-10 player to be named a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award.
Tailback Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State was selected both Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga of USC the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year and Mike Riley of Oregon State the Pac-10 Coach of the Year.
For a full list of the 2008 All-Pac-10 team, click here.
Cal next takes the field for the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco vs. Miami on Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. The Bears completed the regular season with an 8-4 overall record and a 6-3 mark in the Pac-10.
Since Jeff Tedford took over as head coach in 2002, Cal has had 30 players earn first-team All-Pac-10 honors.