Jan. 2, 2010
BERKELEY - Tailback Jahvid Best and Cal head coach Jeff Tedford addressed the media during a teleconference call after Best announced Saturday that he will forego his senior season at Cal and enter the 2010 NFL Draft. Following are selected comments of what each had to say.
TAILBACK JAHVID BEST
"Over the past couple of weeks and over the past month, my family and I have been offered the opportunity to enter the NFL and now we have a decision. It wasn't an easy decision. It took a lot of thought. We got a lot of advice from everybody - coaches, coach [Jeff] Tedford, my running backs coach [Ron Gould], friends, a lot of advice from everybody. We sat down, we met with coach Tedford and talked about the pros and cons, and after weighing out the pros and cons, we decided to enter the draft and forego my senior season at Cal."
"I want to say thank you to the University of [California-] Berkeley for the opportunity to play college football for the school and also to receive an education, an education that I plan to finish after I'm done playing football. But this is an opportunity I can't pass up. I had to take advantage of it."
On what influenced his decision and pointed him in the direction of declaring for the 2010 NFL Draft
"For anything I do, I kept praying about it and praying to God to help me with my decision. It was just kind of a feeling, a gut feeling. I kind of go with my feelings - that's how I make decisions ... I feel like I can be successful."
On the feedback he received from the NFL and where he thinks he might be go in the 2010 NFL Draft
"After hearing a lot of things - I've heard as high as the first round, I've heard as low as the third round, the NFL kind of give you an iffy answer, too - at the end of the day the answers are all kind of guesses. They kind of play it safe and give you what they feel. But at the end of the day that really shouldn't factor into your decision too much, because there have been times when people are wrong by a couple of rounds, or they say you're going in the third round and people move up to the first round. You can't have that weigh too much in your decision."
On whether he's chosen an agent yet and his plans to train for the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine
"I haven't chosen an agent yet. I'm still going through that process right now. Because I haven't chosen an agent, I don't know where I'm going to be training."
On whether he will be healthy enough to work out for NFL teams after sustaining a season-ending injury against Oregon State on Nov. 7
"I have no doubt in my mind that I'll be ready to work out and perform the way I should by that time. I have no doubt in my mind about anything."
On how much his injuries at Cal influenced his decision
"They played a small role. If anything the injuries kind of aided me staying more than anything, but they played a small factor in this decision."
On whether he could have improved his NFL Draft stock by coming back to Cal for his senior year in 2010
"I felt like I can definitely improve it, but nothing is guaranteed, and right now I have an opportunity so I have to take advantage of it."
On whether he received any advice from previous Cal players with his decision
"I talked to a couple of the guys - I talked to Justin [Forsett]. They just kind of gave me advice just to do `what you think is right, do what you think is best for your family.' After sitting down with my family, we feel like this is our best option."
On his current physical condition
"My condition is that I'm still not 100 percent as we speak right now, but I'm very optimistic about my abilities to come back by the time the combine and pro day come around. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be able to perform."
On whether specifically his season-ending injury suffered against Nov. 7 against Oregon State played a role in his decision
"The most recent injury played a factor in that I didn't finish my whole junior season. That kind of made me want to stay and go back to Cal and finish a whole season, because I knew that I could play better than what I did this year. That kind of factored in a way to make me want to stay. But at the end of the day, I know that football is a game where injuries are kind of common, and so I just felt like I could get past this injury, and I'll be able to play again and I could take the opportunity to go in the NFL."
On the role he sees himself playing in the NFL and whether he sees himself as an every-down back
"Oh yeah, definitely. I feel like any role that any team that picks me up, that I can fulfill any role - whether that be an every down back or whatever they want me to be I feel like I can be."
On what part of his game he feels like he needs to improve upon as he enters the NFL
"I feel like strength is the part of the game that I need to improve on. Then throw in the fact that I felt like it's a more physical game that I've got to get ready for. But every year in any kind of sport, you have to get better every year so I've got to get better just like everybody else has to."
On when he realized he could play in the NFL
"It's always been a dream of mine, so I've always had my eyes set on making it to the NFL. That's always been my goal, so when I started having a little bit of success I knew it was becoming a tangible goal. That's how it's been for me. Having [Cal running backs] coach [Ron] Gould and [Cal head] coach [Jeff] Tedford coaching me and making me the best player I could be really helped me along the way. I'm fortunate to be in this position I am in right now."
On the feedback he received from Cal head coach Jeff Tedford on his decision
"He just kind of played a neutral role. He didn't pick a side for me to leave or stay. He just kind of put everything out on the table for me and my family, and weighed the pros and the cons for both situations. He just wanted us to be knowledgeable of what we're getting into, and then he let us make the best decision and what we felt like the best decision was."
On his favorite NFL team and player
"My favorite team growing up was the Oakland Raiders, just because that's where I was from - that was my hometown team. My favorite player was Charles Woodson on the Oakland Raiders because that was when I was really in love with the Oakland Raiders back then."
On the feedback he received from the NFL and where he thinks he might be go in the 2010 NFL Draft
"Right now, it's too early to tell. If I go out there and perform bad at the combine, or at pro day, then I shouldn't expect to go in the early rounds. But, if I go out there and perform the way I should, then I should expect to go in the early rounds. It's all predicated on how I perform."
On how much he expects to improve his stock at the NFL Scouting Combine or pro day with his speed
"I think I can improve my stock quite well if I perform the way I should."
On what he's looking for in his 40-yard dash time
"There's no specific time. I'm not going to put a time out there that I can't get to, but I'm just hoping to run my fastest and to the best of my ability."
On what his fastest 40-yard dash time is
"I've never ran a real, legit timed 40 before. I'm real curious. I've only ran track before, that's the only thing I have timed."
CAL HEAD COACH JEFF TEDFORD
On the Cal program after Jahvid Best's departure
"Everyone knows the impact that Jahvid has on a program. We wish him well. It was a decision that he's made with his family, and we support him 100 percent. He's done a great job; he doesn't owe us anything. He's done a great job for this program, not just on the field but off the field. He's been a great representative of this program, and he's going to be a big success at the next level. Any time you lose a Heisman candidate or somebody of that caliber then you have to replace them. That's the job going ahead is trying to develop the rest of the guys that we have."
On Best's prospects as an NFL player
"The sky's the limit. Jahvid has great potential. The obvious things are his speed, but I don't know how much everybody really appreciates his ability to catch the football. I think he's just going to get better and better. He has great balance; he has great lateral movement; he catches the football very, very well; and is he very strong. I think like Jahvid said that like anybody else, Jahvid needs to improve some, and that he has the work ethic and the passion to follow-through with that."
On whether he thinks Best is ready for the next step with his character and maturity
"I do. I think over the years here Jahvid has always been a pretty mature guy. He's always been soft-spoken and very level-headed. Through his time here, especially over the last year where there was a lot of media requests and a lot of attention put on him, again I thought he handled that very, very well. That has a tendency to mature someone as you go through experiences. I think he's had those experiences, and he's done great with them. He's very mature, and I think he's going to handle that next step very, very well."
On when he realized that Best could be an NFL player
"It was the first [training] camp, it didn't take long. There's certain guys that when they come on the field and they do things, you're just in amazement at what they do and he's one of those guys. He's so explosive, so fast and so versatile. Immediately when he was in camp as soon as he touched the ball, the things that he did, you could see that he had untapped potential and that he could really go far in this game. Given the work ethic and given everything else he has - he has great character and great work ethic - and [running backs] coach [Ron] Gould has done a phenomenal job with him in preparation, so I think he's equipped to move on and do very well."
On Cal's current running backs led by Shane Vereen
"Shane Vereen is very comparable [to Jahvid Best]. I think those two guys really did a nice job of complementing each other. When Shane is healthy, he has a lot of the same characteristics that Jahvid has. We're really fortunate to have him. Given the other guys - Covaughn [DeBoskie-Johnson], Dasarte Yarnway's coming back, Isi Sofele and the new recruits that we have coming in - I think that we're going to be very solid and have some depth at that position. Of course, all those guys need to improve as well. I'm anxious to get started with that and [running backs] coach [Ron] Gould does a great job every year of preparing these guys. I'm confident that we're going to move forward just fine."
On whether Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson is a "slam dunk" as the team's No. 2 running back behind Vereen
"No, that's not a slam dunk by any means. Through spring, through summer, through fall camp, it's going to be wide open for competition. We really haven't seen Dasarte do much this year because of his injury. Going through the springtime, the competition is going to be there in that position for sure. I'm anxious to get that going. I think we do have some guys that are very versatile, while everyone needs to improve. There's no one that is kind of where they need to be. But, they are all great character kids and all eager to work. I think it's going to be a great spring with competition at that position."
On how he would like to use Vereen and the other running backs in 2010
"We like to kind of stay pretty much like we always have. We've been very fortunate to have two backs - be it J.J. [Arrington] and Marshawn [Lynch], or Marshawn and Justin [Forsett], or Justin and Jahvid [Best], or Jahvid and Shane [Vereen]. We've always been fortunate to have two backs, and that's really the goal that we don't put too much on one guy. The development of our younger guys is going to be very important, so we do feel comfortable and confident to go in the same pattern that we've gone before, which has been very successful with our running backs."
On Best's injuries at Cal and whether those are concern at the NFL level
"No, I don't think so. His injuries have been ... a dislocated elbow is something that can happen at any point. It's not something because he's not durable. The fall that he took in the Oregon State game is part of football. That has nothing to do with durability. Jahvid is very tough. Jahvid over the years has proven that he can play being banged up a little bit. Just look at what he did with the dislocated elbow. He came back in two weeks and played the rest of the season, and played great. Jahvid's a very tough guy. People will understand that about him that he's able to carry the load and he's able to bang in there. I don't know that that's going to be a concern anymore than it would be for anybody else that had those same types of injuries."
On the loss of Best's presence in the locker room
"He's not really the verbal leader, but he's so well-respected. There's no question he's a big part of this team and who he is as a person. But every year things move. The seniors move out, other guys move up. That's just the way it goes. He's kind of put in that category. We're going to miss him; we love him. He's not only a great player, but he's a great person and great to be around. But, he's not a guy who's really verbal. He leads by example. I really admire him for what he's done, especially this last year with all the attention that was put on him and how he handled it. He was so team-oriented and he has a great deal of respect from his teammates, and he always will. Jahvid has a home here forever. We want to make sure that he understands that and knows that he can come back at any time, and he's always going to be a part of this team."
On what he advised Best regarding injuries
"It's just like Jahvid mentioned, there's risks on both sides. There's risk to stay and there's risk to go, because nothing's guaranteed. As long as he understands those risks, which he has spent a great deal of time consulting with people and his family, as long as he understands that, then he can make the best decision possible for himself. As far as his injury against Oregon State, that's not something that happens all the time to everybody. I think that was a one-time situation that he's going to recover fine from, and he'll do a great job on pro timing day and show everybody what he can do. Injuries are part of everybody's decision. I think everybody factors that in. Like he mentioned, he had to factor that into his decision."
On when he knew about Best's decision to enter the 2010 NFL Draft
"We've spoken on it a few times, and I think he was really wrestling with it. But I think he became pretty clear about what he wanted to do yesterday. He informed me of it and then from there, we tried to put together this [teleconference call], so that he could make his announcement to everyone and give everyone a chance to ask some questions. Yesterday was the first time that it was in stone that he'd made a concrete decision, as far as I know."
On how much Best's decision is softened by the presence of Shane Vereen on the Cal team
"Anytime a junior leaves, it basically puts a hole in the natural progression of recruiting, but given Jahvid's situation you can kind of see that this opportunity was coming and that there was going to need to be a decision made. We have a commitment out of a running back that should be here in the springtime, so that's going to give him a chance to jump up and start to put him in position to compete with the other guys. Anytime you lose a junior, it at least puts a hiccup in the recruiting when you're trying to balance numbers and so on, and so forth. But with a guy like Jahvid, if you know its coming then you can prepare for it. We've done that, so I don't think it's really a surprise to anybody. I think everyone knew that this was going to be a strong possibility at the end of this year, given all of the success he has had."