50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #37 - JERROTT WILLARD#37 - JERROTT WILLARD - LINEBACKER (1991-1994)
Jerrott Willard was probably the best tackler I've ever seen wear Blue and Gold. Broadcasters love the cliche of "football instincts." Cliche or no, Willard had those instincts in spades. He exploded through ball carriers and rarely missed a tackle. His angles were as sharp as a geometry major's, and he squeezed the absolute most out of what God gave him. He played sideline to sideline with a non-stop motor that recalls Desmond Bishop of this year's team.
Willard led the Bears in tackles in each of his four seasons and wound up third all-time with 469 career stops, 54 of them for losses. He also had the knack for the big play, which separates him from other Cal defenders with gaudy stats. In his freshman year he blocked a critical punt for a touchdown against Oregon State in a 27-14 victory. In Cal's 37-3 Alamo Bowl victory over Iowa in 1993, he returned an interception 61 yards for a score, and was named Defensive Player of the Game. In countless other situations, we could count on Jerrott to make the critical stop on third down, or to force a turnover.
Though Willard played alongside some outstanding talents in his time at Cal, he was voted Team MVP after both his junior and senior seasons, and he was a two-time All-Pac 10 first team selection at inside linebacker. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1995, and left the NFL in 1998.