Dec. 7, 2009
OAKLAND - Tailbacks Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen shared the Offensive Team MVP honors, while linebacker Mike Mohamed was selected the Team MVP on the defensive side of the ball for the 2009 Cal football team. The honors were announced at the team awards banquet Sunday night at the Oakland Marriott City Center hotel in Oakland.
Mohamed was also recognized with three other honors - Andy Smith Award (player with most Big "C" time), Berkeley Breakfast Club Award (outstanding defensive player in the Big Game) and Pac-10 All-Academic First-Team member. He leads the Pac-10 with an average of 8.8 tackles per game and the team with 105 total stops. Mohamed was also responsible for one of the most dramatic plays of the 2009 season when he picked off Stanford QB Andrew Luck at the Cal 3-yard line late in the fourth quarter to preserve a 34-28 Cal victory in the Big Game at Stanford Stadium. He was named the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Week twice in 2009 for his efforts at Stanford and earlier in the season at Arizona State.
Vereen added the Berkeley Breakfast Club Award for offense with a career-high 193 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns on 42 carries in the Big Game. His 42 carries were also a career-high and tied for the second-most by a FBS player this season. He also had 100-yard games vs. Arizona (159) and at UCLA (154). In 12 regular-season contests, Vereen rushed for 830 yards and 10 touchdowns on 163 carries - all career highs. Vereen is second on the team behind Best in rushing yards (830), scoring (72), total touchdowns (12) and rushing TDs (10) - all career-highs. He also leads the Bears in all-purpose running yards (1,615) and kick return average (23.0 ypg).
Best was one of the nation's top candidates for the Heisman Trophy during the early stages of the season and was well on his way to a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaign before being injured on a seven-yard touchdown run against Oregon State on Nov. 7. Best has not played or practiced since the injury that required medical personal to attend to him on the field and transport him to the Highland General Hospital for an overnight stay. Despite missing the last three games, Best still paces the club with 867 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns (12 rushing, 4 receiving) that are only one shy of Cal's modern-era record and two short of the school's all-time mark. His scoring average of 10.67 points per game ranks second in the Pac-10 and third nationally.
Defensive lineman Tyson Alualu matched Mohamed's four honors, taking home the Joe Roth Award (player best exemplifying courage, attitude and sportsmanship), the Brick Muller Award presented to the team's Most Valuable Defensive Linemen, one of the two Cort Majors Captains Awards and Senior Lifter of the Year. Alualu leads the team and ranks among the Pac-10 leaders in sacks (7.5, 0.62 per game, No. 6 Pac-10) and tackles for loss (10.0, 0.83 per game, No. 11-T Pac-10). He also paces the club and leads all Pac-10 defensive linemen with 60 tackles (two shy of his career-high of 62 in 2008).
Quarterback Kevin Riley won two honors, taking home a Cort Majors Captains Award on the offensive side of the ball and the team's Most Valuable Offensive Back. Riley is 194-of-357 passing for 2,681 yards and 17 touchdowns through 12 regular-season games in 2009, setting career highs in all categories. His 2,681 yards of passing ranks ninth on the school's single-season all-time list.
Defensive back Syd'Quan Thompson was the evening's other two-time honoree, picking up the team's Most Valuable Defensive Back honors to go with the Ken Harvey Award for the player showing special academic commitment and improvement. Thompson has started all 51 games possible in his career over the last four seasons and is Cal's active career leader in tackles (254), interceptions (7), passes defended (41) and pass breakups (34, No. 2 all-time at Cal). The 2009 Academic Momentum Award winner has 47 tackles, 4.0 TFL, one interception and eight pass breakups this season.
Other winners of player honors included Bryan Anger (J. Scott Duncan Award for the Most Valuable Special Teams Player), Devin Bishop (Ken Cotton Award - Most Courageous Player - Defense), Mark Brazinski (Freshman Lifter of the Year), Sean Cattouse (Stub Allison Award - Most Inspirational Player), Justin Cheadle (Bob Tessier Award for most improved Offensive Lineman), Skylar Curran (Most Improved Player), Tyre Ellison (Co-Special Teams Scout Team Player of the Year), T.J. Emery (Co-Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year), Steven Fanua (Co-Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year), Derrick Hill (Schlessinger Coaches Award for outstanding athletic ability, academic success and community service), Brian Holley (Dink Artal Award given to a player best exemplifying Cal spirit), Cameron Jordan (Bob Tessier Award for most improved Defensive Lineman), Keni Kaufusi (Co-Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year), Mitchell Schwartz (Brick Muller Award for Most Valuable Offensive Lineman), Matt Summers-Gavin (Bob Simmons Award for Most Valuable Freshman - Offense), Mike Tepper (Ken Cotton Award - Most Courageous Player - Offense), Aaron Tipoti (Bob Simmons Award for Most Valuable Freshman - Defense), Ryan Wertenberger (Co-Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year) and Eddie Young (Dink Artal Award given to a player best exemplifying Cal spirit).
Recruiting assistant Kevin Parker was honored with the Everett Merriman Award for his commitment to community service, while Kyle Boas (Student Manager of the Year) and Garine Tomassian (Student-Athletic Trainer of the Year) picked up student honors.
Nine players who earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors were also recognized. Mark Boskovich, Alex Lagemann and Mohamed were first-team selections. Ernest Owusu, Summers-Gavin and Giorgio Tavecchio were second-team choices, while Skylar Curran, Chris Guarnero and Schwartz were third-team picks.
Cal finished the 2009 regular season with an 8-4 overall record and a 5-4 Pac-10 mark to finish tied for fifth in the conference. The Golden Bears have accepted a bid to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against No. 23 AP/No. 24 USA Today Utah (9-3, 6-2 Mountain West) on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium. Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. and the game will be televised live on ESPN.
For bowl ticket information, visit CalBears.com/bowl or call (800) GO BEARS.
2009 Cal Football Team Awards
Ken Harvey Award - Player showing special academic commitment and improvement
Stub Allison Award - Most Inspirational Player
Most Improved Player
Student Manager of the Year
Student Athletic Trainer of the Year
Schlessinger Coaches Award - Outstanding athletic ability, academic success and community service
J. Scott Duncan Award - Most Valuable Special Teams Player
Andy Smith Award - Player with most Big "C" time
Joe Roth Award - Player best exemplifying courage, attitude and sportsmanship
Pac-10 All-Academic Players
First-Team - OL Mark Boskovich, WR Alex Lagemann, LB Mike Mohamed
Second-Team - DL Ernest Owusu, OL Matt Summers-Gavin, PK Giorgio Tavecchio
Honorable Mention - TE Skylar Curran, OL Chris Guarnero, OL Mitchell Schwartz
Everett Merriman Award - Demonstrating commitment to community service