BYRON STORER - AN APPRECIATION
We got the awful news on Monday that Byron Storer will likely miss the Holiday Bowl with a broken arm suffered in practice. What's just as awful is that some people on a certain message board are chortling that sophomore Will Ta'ufo'ou would be an upgrade over Storer.
It's true - Storer is not Chris Manderino, who was probably the best fullback in the program's history. He's extremely limited athletically, as evidenced by his rushing stat line - eight carries for sixteen yards in twelve games. As a receiver, he's at best a distraction - and we still can't figure out why Longshore sought him out at the end of the Arizona game.
But every winning college football team needs a bunch of guys who do little things, and who lead their teammates by example. Byron Storer is one such guy.
He's a very good run blocker - not quite Manderino, but he displays good technique and works hard to be in the correct position. As a pass blocker, he's one of the best we've seen, picking up stunts and blitzes with great vision and form. On special teams, he was literally the only bright spot in 2005's meltdown, earning 2nd team All-Pac 10 honors and leading the Bears with nine tackles. This year, he helped coach Pete Alamar turn special teams from a deficiency to a team strength, again earning 2nd team all-conference honors.
Oh, and he's also a first team Pac 10 All-Academic choice who graduated this month with a degree in communications.
The most fitting tribute to Storer, the former walk-on who earned his scholarship, is that he was named the 2006 Dink Artal Award winner as the player best exemplifying Cal spirit. Look at the previous winners of that award: Keith Kartz, Tosh Lupoi, Tully Banta-Cain, Burl Toler. All of those guys share something in common with #38 - they were all leaders who inspired their teammates not by what they did, but by how they did it.