Oct. 23, 2006
As told to John Sudsbury, California Media Relations
[This story originally appeared in the October 21 issue of "Kickoff," the official California game day program]
Fifth-year senior Marcus O'Keith was part of Jeff Tedford's first recruiting class in 2002. He has been a key player for the Golden Bears in his five years and currently is among the top kick returners in the Pac-10. A product Carson, Calif., O'Keith is a social welfare major at Cal.
Coming to Cal was a new experience for me, but my sister [Latasha] was here so she made things easier for me to get adjusted. The coaching was different, in high school I didn't have a position coach, so I had to get adjusted to being on time to meetings and other little things. I think I adjusted quickly. Coach Tedford was great. He is kind of like a dad on the team, a father figure. If you needed any help, he was there to help.
Family is real important to me, it always has been. Whether it was my grandma or my parents, my family has always been a strong foundation. I always put family first. My parents and my family have been there for me my whole life, they have guided me through. They have always been there for me, through hard times in football and school. They always encouraged me to keep going and get through the little bumps in the road.
That's why it was great when I first came here; everybody was talking about the different attitude with the new coaching staff. I felt that right when I got here; it seemed like it was a family. Everybody was working towards the same goal - to win a championship.
Being a freshman seems like it was yesterday. The time flew by so fast. I remember just about everything I did, all the mistakes and all the fun. You learn from your mistakes, that's what I tell the freshman now. Take advantage of your time now because it will fly by, next thing you know, you'll be like me!
Cal has meant a lot to me; I've been through a lot here. I went through academic probation, the whole nine. Having to get focused and get on track helped me. Cal has taught me a lot about growing up and being more mature and taking care of business. From playing football here, I have learned the importance of chemistry and goals. Everybody needs to work together to reach goals; you need team players, not individuals. And you need to stay focused.
The highlights of my career started with my first touchdown against Baylor. I also had big games against Washington and other things, but my biggest highlight was me graduating. Even though it rained on the graduation, it was still fun. I have accomplished a lot of things in my time; my parents and I are proud of that.
We have had a lot of big games. As a freshman, I played at Michigan State and we had big games against UCLA and USC. Last weekend against Oregon was huge. My body was feeling right, my adrenalin was going, we had 70,000 people, we were ready to go. I just had a feeling we would blow them out, so to actually see it happen was a dream come true.
My goal for this season is to do everything we can to get to the national championship or the Rose Bowl. Individually, I just want to do well and do my best when I am in the game. I always want to be a team player and help our team win games. On kickoff returns, I just want to take one to the house; well, actually, I want to make more than one, but one would be great!
There is a new song called "Go Hard or Go Home" by E-40; it relates to life, whether it is football or a job or anything, you always have to go hard or you won't get where you want to go.
Hopefully I can continue playing football after this year, but if not, I want to do a lot of different things. I would like to be a fire fighter and I am looking to take some classes for that after football. I also like architecture, landscaping, I just want to do different things.
No matter what I am doing though, I will be a Cal alum and I will definitely be back. I put a lot of sweat and blood on that field and I want to see how the team is doing; I will always feel like I am a part of it. It will be great to come back. And I can't wait to see the new stadium - hopefully I'll get my own chair right in the press box!