Sept. 17, 2006
by Tim Miguel
[An abbreviated version of this Q&A appeared in the September 16 issue of "Kickoff," the official California football game day program]
Senior tight end Eric Beegun arrived at Cal in 2002 as part of head coach Jeff Tedford's first recruiting class. Although he already has his degree from California, he still has one season left to learn lessons on the football field. The Santa Monica native had to step in against Tennessee when Craig Stevens went down with a concussion on the first play of the game. Here are some of his thoughts on life as a Cal football player and life in general:
What has been your best memory while playing at Cal?
Coming out on Saturdays, playing in Strawberry Canyon, the atmosphere and seeing the program evolve from when I first came here to where it is now as the perennial power that we've become. My first year, the first play that we ran was a double pass to [classmate David] Gray and that was just awesome to see. That was the direction our team and the program were going and that's how my career got started.
What's the one thing that you're still hoping to accomplish during a game to complete your career at Cal?
Get that touchdown. I have to get that touchdown. I've come close a few times, but still have to get that first one. As a team, I don't think it's complete until we go to the Rose Bowl. That's been my goal since I was a little kid. My career isn't complete until I go to the Rose Bowl.
What is your major and what do you hope to do with your degree?
I just graduated and I was a legal studies major. At first, I was looking at law school, but now that I'm done, having a few more years of school right now without taking a break doesn't sound too appealing. I want to continue playing football for as long as I can. That's definitely my first goal. If that doesn't happen, then I'll go into real estate or business. I'll do some volunteer work too. That's a big thing if I don't continue playing, to give back for everything I've gotten in these past four years.
What are your goals for this season?
Personally, my goal is to do whatever I can to help my team. Whenever I'm given an opportunity, I want to be able to make the plays to do what I can to help this team win. If we don't go to the national championship, that's obviously first and foremost our goal, but if that doesn't happen, then my next goal is to the win the Pac-10. I want that Pac-10 championship. We just missed it two years ago. This is my last year, so it's my last chance to get it.
Who are the most influential people in your life?
My parents. They've been so supportive. Since I've been at Cal, they haven't missed a game. Being an only child, they've been able to really focus a lot of their attention on me and supporting me. They support every decision I make. My dad just says, `no matter what you do, do it with integrity, honesty and do what makes you happy.' That's how I've always guided my life.
What are some of you other interests off the field?
I do a lot of photography. I like taking pictures of the bay area. I take a lot of pictures in San Francisco, Tahoe, Napa and around Berkeley. I actually take the pictures, blow them up and give them to people. I love cooking. I cook all the time. Hanging out with my buddies, going to the pool.
What will you miss the most when you leave Cal?
I'm going to miss the guys on the team, getting ready for practice in the locker room, running out of the tunnel with them before games. We've gone through so much; we've really become a family.
What thoughts were running through your head when Craig (Stevens) got injured at Tennessee?
Initially, it doesn't matter who it is, you're scared and worried about your teammate. When I saw it was Craig, I was really worried for him. We've become really close, he's like my brother out here, and we're both from Southern California. First, I worried about his health, and then once I saw him walk off the field, then I thought right away, `wow, now it's my turn to play.' I had to mentally get ready to play. I knew right away when I saw him walk off the field that he wasn't coming back. I was ready to go.
How well do you and Craig work together?
I think Craig and I have different strengths, so we work off each other's strengths. We work to make each other better. He's a beast on the field, his strength is unmatched by anyone that I've ever played against. Working with him on footwork and speed, I think we feed off each other and try to become better for ourselves. The better we can make ourselves, the better we can make the team.
Who was your favorite athlete when you were growing up?
We never really had a football team in Los Angeles. I love the Lakers and I loved watching Magic play. He was so unselfish on the court. He was a natural leader. He wasn't really one of those guys who had to yell at people. He demanded his leadership through the way he played and I always thought that was really admirable.
What's the one thing you've learned the most while you were in college?
I've learned a lot on the football field. I've learned equally about life on the football field as I have in the classroom. Acting with class, which Coach Tedford talks about all the time, is something that I've really taken to heart. It's something I really try to value everyday.
Do you miss playing baseball?
Yeah I do. I miss hanging out in the dugout between innings and messing around. It's a lot more relaxed, but there's nothing like coming out on the football field. If I had to do it again, I'd still play football in a heart beat. I wouldn't give this up for anything in the world.