This article originally appeared in the Cal Kickoff Gameday Program, Sept. 17, 2011
By Melissa Dudek
If you Google the words "Sean Cattouse" these days, all sorts of impressive items pop up on screen.
Sporting News third-team preseason All-American. Phil Steele's No. 5 draft-eligible strong safety. Jim Thorpe Award and Tatum Award candidate. Sporting News first-team preseason All-Pac-12.
Sean Cattouse, himself, is not doing that search. He doesn't have to.
"I personally don't read about me, but it is inevitable," Cattouse said. "I have family and people that send me links and texts and all type of stuff. I am definitely aware of it."
Cattouse is proud of the recognition he has earned, from being an honorable mention All-Pac-10 defensive back each of the last two seasons to the preseason honors that have been piling up going into 2011, but he is hardly resting on his laurels.
"I came into Cal as a three-star, so I always had to work and earn everything I have ever gotten. I am just focusing on what exactly has gotten me to this point - to keep on working hard and doing extra and putting in the time. That is what has gotten me here, so I don't see any reason to change regardless of any accolades I might have. It is nice to know, though."
After redshirting in 2007, Cattouse played 11 games in 2008 for the Golden Bears, including a pair of starts. He started with 13 tackles as a redshirt freshman that season, working his way up to a career-high 59 stops last season. Cattouse also has five career interceptions, which he puts at the center of his mental career highlight reel.
"When I think about my Cal career, I always think of all of my interceptions, and some of the big hits I have made. But I also think a lot about the interceptions that I missed as well. As far as highlights, there are a lot of games where I didn't make big plays all the time and I made great plays just covering guys. I am pretty proud of some of those moments, too."
Cattouse began his career on the other side of the ball, spending most of his career playing quarterback. From Pop Warner through high school, he was tossing to receivers as opposed to taking them down. In high school, he played both ways, quarterbacking and playing defensive back.
"My main focus, what was in my heart was quarterbacking. It was always what I wanted to play and do."
His experience has helped make him a very effective quarterback for the Cal defense.
"Just knowing the mannerisms of quarterbacks, reading defenses, I can really read the demeanor and I have a good feel for what QB's are doing. When I am in my backpedal, I have a feel for when they are going to throw, what they are looking at when I am out there disguising on defense."
Before he was a QB, Cattouse was a young kid growing up in Chicago, shadowing his older brother, Ethan.
"I took up football because my brother played it," Cattouse fondly recalled. "My brother played everything first. Everything he did, I did until probably high school. He kept me under his wing. He was the best. I see a lot of big bros kind of push little brothers aside. He always brought me along with all the guys. And we'd go out there and play or do whatever they were doing. It helped me to mature a little bit earlier, I think. But it was always good."
Though he loves and misses Chicago, especially spending time in downtown, Millennium Park and along the Magnificent Mile, the Bay really has become his new love.
"I love the Bay Area. There is nothing like it. It grew on me and I haven't regretted a thing about coming out here. I love it!"
Right now, Cattouse doesn't spend much time reflecting on his past, on the field or off. He is very focused on his future, the short-term future known as the 2011 football season.
After spending the summer running hills, working on his footwork, and doing intensive conditioning designed by strength coach Mike Blasquez, Cattouse feels he is ready to have a phenomenal senior season and he has set one very lofty goal for himself.
"I have never in my life been considered `The Best'. I have always been `he's a really good player'. I have never known what it is like to be amongst the best (among the top three) or `The Best' at whatever position I was playing, so my goal is to be the best safety in the Pac-12. It is going to be tough. There are a lot of good guys out there. But if I play like I plan on playing ... I have the most confidence I have had in my life and I am looking forward to the challenge."