50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #45 - REGAN UPSHAW
#45 - Regan Upshaw, Defensive End (1993-1995)
I feel a little conflicted about this choice. On the one hand, Upshaw was the most explosive pass rusher in modern Cal history. His burst off the edge, paired with that of linemate Duane Clemons, changed teams' game entire plans by limiting their seven-step drops and deep routes. In only three years (Upshaw declared for the NFL Draft as a junior) he racked up 28 sacks (2nd all-time) and 49 tackles for loss. While Andre Carter was a more complete player and therefore will rank higher on this list, no one was as disruptive to opposing offenses as Regan Upshaw.
On the other hand, I can't shake a small nagging feeling that Upshaw could have meant much more to Cal. First, he chose not to stay for his senior season (a season in which he would have added a lot to Mariucci's Aloha Bowl team). In fairness, the team was in turmoil as Keith Gilbertson spent Upshaw's junior year burning every bridge he could with players, fans and alumni. But Upshaw also racked up untimely penalties, a trend which continued into his professional career. And lastly, he introduced himself on MNF as having attended "Pittsburg High School" (this was the greatest offense, IMO).
On the whole, Upshaw's speed and athleticism were unrivaled in the Pac 10 during his career, and his statistics back up his inclusion in the Fab 50. He played a very solid Alamo Bowl in the win over Iowa - in fact, his crushing hit on QB Paul Burmeister triggered a poor pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by LB Jerrot Willard. He was named to Pro Football Weekly's All-America team following that junior season.
Upshaw was drafted 12th overall by Tampa Bay in 1996, and had an up-and-down career with the Bucs, Raiders, Redskins and Giants. He did start at DE for the Oakland Raiders in SB XXXVII, and again forced an interception with a hard hit on the QB - one of few highlights for the Raiders that day.