Dec. 24, 2003
Players from Cal and Virginia Tech met the media Tuesday, at the official Insight Bowl Players Conference. Six Bears participated in the event, including Aaron Rodgers, Donnie McCleskey, Geoff McArthur, Adimchinobe Echemandu, Lorenzo Alexander, and Joe Maningo.
Maningo, who overcame a significant knee injury earlier in the year, started the final six games at middle linebacker for the Bears. In a short amount of time Maningo emerged as one of the emotional leaders on the team recording 28 tackles and two interceptions. The junior from Los Altos Hills, CA is the latest participant in Golden Bear Q & A.
How hard was it to comeback from such a devastating injury?
"It was pretty tough, but when you love the game as much as I do, you can will yourself to heal faster than what's expected. Once I got back to practice the processed slowed a bit. Everyone else was three steps ahead of me. I had to get use to the speed of the game and reading offenses on the fly."
Explain the Bears' vast improvement on defense the second half of the season?
"We had a lot of new players and a lot of injuries earlier in the season. But as we got healthier we began to jell as a unit. We also made a conscious effort to spend time with each other off the field to build trust, and develop relationships."
As the "run stopper" on the Cal defense, how do you plan to contain such a dominant running attack?
"It will definitely be a team effort. If we all do our jobs we'll be fine. Coach (Bob) Gregory came up with a good scheme, we just need to trust in each other and make plays when they are presented to us?"
Describe the personality needed to play linebacker?
"You must be intense and be willing to play hard every down. A linebacker has to be smart, because he is like the quarterback of the defense. Above all, however, a linebacker must have a love for the game."