Cal Football: Bears' All-Decade Team (2010-2019)
The decade of college football ends with Monday’s national championship game, so it’s time to present our all-decade Cal football team consisting of players who played for the Bears from 2010 through 2019.
Yes, I know this decade technically began in 2011 and will end following the 2020 season, but decades traditionally start with the 0 year and end with a 9 year, especially in sports.
In making our choices we relied heavily on the player’s production while at Cal, with production at the pro level being less important but not ignored.
Selection to all-conference teams carried a lot of weight, and, in many cases, a subjective assessment of a player’s contributions at Cal was necessary.
Here’s our All-Decade Cal football team, with a rationale for the selections provided after each position group.
Jared Goff –A first-team all-conference selection in 2015, Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
Rationale: This was a no-brainer. The only other Cal quarterback who received even honorable mention all-conference recognition was Davis Webb in 2016.
Shane Vereen – Vereen was a second-team all-conference selection in 2010 and a second-round NFL Draft pick. He had seven productive seasons in the NFL.
Patrick Laird -- An honorable-mention choice in 2017, Laird had 2,088 rushing yards and 610 receiving yards in his final two seasons before making the Miami Dolphins’ roster as an undrafted free agent.
Rationale: If you ever saw Vereen play, there would be no doubt in your mind he belonged here. He shared time with Jahvid Best for two seasons before rushing for 1,167 yards and adding 209 receiving yards in 2010.
Laird was a tougher choice. But his overall work, which included excellence as a receiver, was better than that of Isi Sofele (1,322 rushing yards in 2011) and Khalfani Muhammad (2,073 career rushing yards), neither of whom received even honorable-mention status. C.J. Anderson had a productive pro career, but never had more than 790 rushing yards in a season at Cal.
Keenan Allen – Allen was a first-team all-Pac-10 pick in 2011, when he had 98 catches for 1,343 yards. He has been named to the Pro Bowl three times.
Kenny Lawler – Lawler was a first-team all-conference pick in 2015, when he had 13 touchdown catches. For his career, Lawler had 143 catches for 1,706 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Rationale: Allen needs no explanation, but Lawler was a close choice over Chad Hansen, who had one monster season (92 catches, 1,429 yards, 11 TDs), but was never a first-team all-conference selection and did not do much in his other seasons. Bryce Treggs had outstanding career numbers, but was never a first- or second-team all-conference pick. Neither of them did enough as pros to change the pecking order. Marvin Jones has been an outstanding pro player and put up good numbers in college, but he was just an honorable-mention choice in 2010 opposite Keenan Allen.
Stephen Anderson – A two-time honorable mention selection, Anderson had 101 receptions for 1,260 yards while at Cal and has 36 receptions in three NFL seasons.
Rationale: This is a close call. Richard Rodgers, who has 121 catches for 1,173 yards in six NFL seasons, has had a better pro career than Anderson, but Anderson was more productive at Cal. Rodgers had 59 receptions for 896 yards in college and never received even honorable mention status in college. Both Rodgers and Anderson were used a lot as wide receivers in their Cal careers. Anderson had more opportunities to catch passes as he spent most of his career under Sonny Dykes’ wide-open attack, while Rodgers played two of his three seasons under Jeff Tedford.
Mitchell Schwartz – A first-team all-conference pick in 2011, Schwartz has had an outstanding pro career, including being named All-Pro in 2018.
Brian Schwenke – Schwenke was named to the first-team all-Pac-12 squad in 2012, and he has started 30 games as a pro.
Jordan Rigsbee – Rigsbee made 49 career starts for Cal, and played four different positions, starting 16 games at left guard, 13 at right guard, 12 at right tackle and eight at center.
Patrick Mekari – An honorable-mention choice on the 2017 all-conference team, Mekari is now the starting center for the Baltimore Ravens.
Chris Borrayo – A two-time honorable-mention choice (2014, 2015), Borrayo started 40 games for the Bears.
Rationale: Schwartz and Schwenke were obvious choices, but the others are clearly open for debate. The biggest omission is Jake Curhan, who was an honorable-mention selection in 2019 and has started 38 games. He has one season remaining, and a comparable season in 2020 would put him among our top five offensive linemen. We also considered center Michael Saffell, who is talented enough to make our all-decade team, but has missed significant time with injuries.
DEFENSE (3-4 alignment)
Cameron Jordan – Jordan was a first-team all-Pac-10 pick in 2010 and a first-round NFL Draft choice. He has been named to the Pro Bowl five times and was All-Pro once.
Trevor Guyton – Guyton was a second-team all-conference selection in 2011, when he had 5.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He finished with 11 sacks and 25 tackles for loss for his career.
James Looney – Twice given honorable-mention notice, Looney finished with 7.0 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. That included 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in 2017.
Rationale: Jordan was an obvious choice, and Guyton’s numbers and second-team all-conference status make him a solid selection. Looney barely made it over Kyle Kragen, whose 2015 season (72 tackles, 7.0 sacks) was better than any one of Looney’s seasons, but Looney was a little more consistent over his four years than was Kragen, who played just two years at Cal. Deandre Coleman also received consideration, but his career numbers did not measure up to the others.
Evan Weaver – Consensus All-American, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.
Mychal Kendricks – Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, started 91 games in the NFL.
Jordan Kunaszyk – First-team all-Pac-12 pick in 2018, when he had 143 tackles, including 10.0 for loss.
Devante Downs – An honorable-mention selection in 2017, Downs had 8.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss in his Cal career.
Rationale: Mike Mohamed received consideration, and his overall Cal career (7.0 sacks, 20 tackles for loss) was probably more impressive than Downs’. But Mohamed played in only one season during the decade (2010), and his best college season was 2009.
Chris Conte – Conte was a first-team all-Pac-10 pick in 2010 and started 93 NFL games.
Camryn Bynum – A second-team all-conference selection in 2019, Bynum has started 38 games with another season of eligibility remaining.
Ashtyn Davis – Davis was a second-team all-Pac-12 choice in 2019, and has seven career interceptions. He is expected to be the first Cal player taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jaylinn Hawkins – Hawkins was an honorable-mention selection in 2019 and had 10 career interceptions.
Rationale: Having three members of the 2019 defensive backfield on this list may seem excessive, but there is a reason Cal’s secondary this past season was considered among the best in the nation. Anyone who has watched Davis and Bynum play over the past three seasons should have no trouble with them being on the all-decade team. Hawkins gets a slight edge over cornerback Steve Williams, who had six career interceptions, including three in 2012, when he also had 70 tackles and 7.0 tackles for loss. But Hawkins’ four interceptions in postseason play (three last season, one this season) were the deciding factor.
Bryan Anger – A two-time first-team all-conference selection, Anger was taken in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft and is in his eighth season as a pro punter.
Rationale: None needed.
Matt Anderson – Cal’s alltime leading scorer.
Rationale: In probably the toughest choice of all the all-decade selections, Anderson edged out Vince D’Amato. This is the only case in which all-conference honors were overshadowed by production. D’Amato was a first-team all-Pac-12 pick in 2012 and a second-team choice in 2013, while Anderson was never more than an honorable-mention selection (2016). But Anderson’s career made-field-goal percentage of 81.2 percent was better than D’Amato’s 72.7 percent. Anderson had two seasons (22-of-26 in 2016 and 18-of-21 in 2015) that were comparable to D’Amato’s best season (17-of-20 in 2013). Anderson made 60 career field goals compared with 40 for D’Amato, and being the school’s alltime leading scorer has to count for something.